Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) share price rockets 10% to all-time high. Here's why

The lithium miners shoots into record territory again today.

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An excited man stretches his arms out above his head as he reaches a mountain peak representing two ASX 200 shares reaching multi-year high prices today

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Shares in Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) have rocketed out of the starting blocks on Wednesday and set a new all-time high.

At the time of writing, the Pilbara Minerals share price is up 10.18% trading at $2.49, after hitting a record high of $2.53.

That means it's gained around 185% this year to date, well ahead of the S&P/ASX 200 index (ASX: XJO)'s return of 12% since January 1.

Let's investigate what's been driving this outsized return over the last few months.

What's been fuelling the Pilbara Minerals share price lately?

The Pilbara Minerals share price has marched northwards since January 1 this year, along with many of its ASX resources peers.

Interestingly, investors continue to reward the lithium miner, despite it posting a net loss of $51 million in FY21, alongside a 37% year on year decrease in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in its FY21 results last month.

However, a number of external drivers appear to have fuelled momentum for Pilbara's share price over the last few months.

Most recently, on 6 September, Pilbara announced a "further substantial increase" in the mineral resource at its flagship 100% owned Pilganogoora Lithium-Talium project in the Pilbara region, Western Australia.

The company advised that the 39% mineral resource boost brought the updated tonnage to 308.9 million tonnes, reinforcing the project's position "as the world's premier hard rock lithium operation".

Pilbara shares have climbed a further 16% since this announcement.

Cool – but how can Foolish investors interpret this?

Because Pilbara Minerals is an ASX resource share that produces commodities, it is considered a price taker. That means its share price is sensitive to fluctuations in prices in the broader commodity markets – lithium in particular for this case.

The price of lithium has soared to 24-month highs this year, having jumped off the springboard in a 90% gain from January to April.

Since then, the spot price of lithium has only edged higher and maintained a level of above CNY90,000/Tonne (T) (AU19,100/T) to date.

With lithium continuing to fetch these high prices in the market, and with the company's newfound payload, it begins to make sense why the Pilbara Minerals share price reached an all-time high today. Investors want in on the potential good fortunes of the company.

Over the last week alone, the Pilbara Minerals share price has climbed a further 16% into the green, as lithium prices crawl higher also.

What else could be behind Pilbara Mineral's share price?

Recall that Pilbara completed the inaugural auction on its Battery Metals Exchange (BMX) platform in July. The BMX outlay is a platform in which Pilbara can sell its unallocated spodumene inventory, to drive additional sales volumes.

The results of its second BMX auction were released on Tuesday, and the company advised that there was "strong interest in both BMX platform participation and bidding within the auction".

And Pilbara's not done there, with the company already eyeing in on its next moves with its latest innovation to generate sales. "Given the strong margins yielded through the BMX trading platform to date, Pilbara Minerals expects to channel more concentrate through the platform," the company said today.

The author Zach Bristow has no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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