SYDNEY, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Western Australian company Pilbara Minerals is firmly on track to become one of the world's major global lithium raw material producers, managing director and CEO Ken Brinsden said on Thursday after securing 75 million U.S. dollars from two Chinese backers to expand its Pilgangoora mining operation.
The Great Wall Motor Company has invested 50 million U.S. dollars in the site, while Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. has put forward 25 million U.S. dollars they announced to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Set to increase production from two tons per year to around five, the facility located 120 km from Port Hedland, is positioning itself as a key supplier for China's growing and highly lucrative electric automotive industry.
"The quality of the products we are producing, the sheer scale of the resource and the speed at which production is ramping up means that Pilgangoora is rapidly being recognised as one of the most important new lithium raw materials projects globally," Brinsden said.
"Our key customers have recently visited the site and they clearly like what they have seen," he added.
Extracting lithium from spodumene concentrate since October, the mine site is also expected to garner further capital from existing cash and Nordic Bonds in order to complete the 160 million U.S. dollar expansion plan.
As a result of the announcement, the company's stock price shot up 16.8 percent, trading at 0.73 Australian cents (0.51 U.S. cents) per share at 12:30 (AEDT).
While at 14:55 Beijing time, Great Wall Motor's stock was down 0.71 percent at 5.57 yuan (0.81 U.S. cents) per share and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. rose 0.14 percent buying 21.98 yuan (03.20 U.S. dollars) per share.
Pilbara Minerals expects the project to be completed by March 2020.