What's dragging the Pilbara Minerals share price 5% lower today?

The lithium miner has revealed how its Pilgangoora project performed last quarter.

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Key points

  • Pilbara Minerals shares are sinking more than 5% today
  • The company advised it has met production guidance at its Pilgangoora project for the March quarter
  • Despite COVID-19 temporarily affecting operations, Pilbara Minerals is forecasting to achieve FY22 guidance of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate

The Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) share price is heading south on Tuesday after the company provided an operational update.

At the time of writing, the lithium miner's shares are travelling 5.19% lower at $2.92 apiece.

Pilgangoora achieves March quarter production guidance

In a statement to the ASX, Pilbara Minerals announced progress at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia.

Operations at Pilgangoora led the company to achieve production of 81,431 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of spodumene concentrate in the March quarter. Notably, this is in line with management's previous guidance of 75,000 to 90,000 dmt.

Pilbara Minerals stated that production had been impacted by the rising instance of community transmission of COVID-19 in WA. In turn, this has led to a reduction in availability of staff and contractors.

While COVID-19 is expected to continue affecting operations through the June quarter, the company remains uncertain regarding production forecasts. This is because if the outbreak gets out of hand, it can cause operational delays, including staff shortages.

Despite the short-term impacts, Pilbara Minerals maintains an annualised FY22 guidance of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt. However, this could be at the lower end of the target range if COVID-19 persists.

Shipments for the March quarter totalled 58,383 dmt compared to the December quarter of 78,679 dmt. The reason for the shortfall was due to a port delay whereby 20,000 dmt had been scheduled for late March. Subsequently, the shipment sailed on 7 April and is on route to its destination.

In addition, the company achieved an average realised sales price of roughly US$2,650/dmt. This is within the previous guidance of US$2,600-3000/dmt, inclusive of a December quarter sale that was shipped in the March quarter.

Pilbara Minerals is targeting its next BMX auction at the end of the month, with 5,000 dmt planned for delivery during June 2022.

Pilbara Minerals share price summary

Over the past 12 months, the Pilbara Minerals share price has surged 153% higher.

However, when glancing at the year to date, its shares are down by 8.5%.

The company's share price reached an all-time high of $3.89 on 18 January before treading lower.

Pilbara Minerals presides a market capitalisation of roughly $8.78 billion, and has approximately 2.98 billion shares on its books.

Motley Fool contributor Aaron Teboneras has no position 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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