Australia's Pilbara Minerals spodumene output hits record as demand soars

April 21 (Reuters) - Australia’s Pilbara Minerals on Wednesday reported record spodumene concentrate production in its third quarter and forecast higher shipments for the current quarter, as demand for the raw material used in electric-vehicle batteries soars.

The country’s lithium miners are bullish on the sector’s prospects as they prepare to expand operations in the wake of soaring prices and rebounding demand after a three-year downturn.

Prices for lithium carbonate AM-99C-LTCB have more than doubled over the past six months while those of spodumene AM-LI2O5CCN-SPO, also called hard rock lithium, have surged 50% since March.

Pilbara reported production of 77,820 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of spodumene concentrate for quarter ended March, up from 63,712 dmt in the December quarter.

It said it shipped 71,229 dmt of the mineral during the quarter, slightly ahead of the sequentially prior period despite some delays at Australia’s Port Hedland.

The company said it expects to ship about 75,000-90,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate in the June quarter.

On an analyst call, Pilbara’s chief executive officer said lithium concentrate spodumene was in “relatively short supply” as enquiries for the material rise. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)