The Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) share price has gone from strength to strength, rallying 460% in the past 12 months and 80% year-to-date.
It wasn’t long ago that tumbling lithium prices pushed the broader ASX lithium sector to the brink of collapse, with smaller players such as Alita Resources Ltd (ASX: A40) and Altura Mining Ltd (ASX: AJM) spiralling into administration.
Fast forward to today, a resurgence in lithium demand has helped rally the Pilbara Mineral share price well beyond its 2018 peak and into record territory.
From zero to hero
A year ago, the Pilbara Minerals share price was trading around 23 cents, backtracking the company’s valuation to when it was still undergoing drilling programs to identify its potential lithium resource.
Things were getting pretty ugly for Pilbara Minerals with its FY20 results flagging a net loss after tax of $99.2 million. This compares to its net loss after tax of $28.9 million in FY19.
By November 2020, however, lithium prices had finally begun to tick upwards and the Pilbara Minerals share price followed suit.
Between October and December 2020, the company’s shares rallied 178% to a 2-year high of 87 cents.
With the lithium market showing signs of promise, Pilbara Minerals made a bold move to acquire embattled lithium miner Altura on 28 October 2020.
This acquisition would see Pilbara Minerals acquire a “well-timed and cost-effective strategic acquisition” which neighbours its main Pilgan plant.
A bumper 2021 for the Pilbara Minerals share price
It’s been onwards and upwards for Pilbara Minerals, with the company’s shares joining the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) on 12 March.
The company’s March quarter results highlighted record production of 77,820 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of spodumene concentrate at an annualised production capacity of approximately 330,000 tonnes per annum (tpa).
The quarterly announcement also advised that site works were underway to improve the project’s spodumene concentrate production to ~380,000 tpa.
Additional growth options are currently being explored, including a Pilgan Plant stage 2 expansion which could increase production capacity by another ~100,000 tpa.
On 25 June, Pilbara Minerals was pleased to announce that it plans to restart the production of Altura Mining operations.
This would see the company dust off the Ngungaju plant, with restart costs of approximately $39 million.
The Ngungaju plant is expected to be another growth driver, with an anticipated 180,000 to 200,000 dmt of production by mid calendar year 2022.