Pilbara Minerals (PLS) has received a A$250m ($164.95m) loan from The Australian Government to expand its mining and processing operations in the Pilbara region, Western Australia.

These operations are engaged in the production of lithium-containing spodumene and tantalite concentrates.

The ten-year debt Facility will be provided through the Export Finance Australia (EFA) and Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) agencies, with each of them contributing A$125m.

This funding will be used for the P680 Project expansion to the Pilgan Plant to deliver an additional spodumene concentrate production of 100,000 tonnes per annum (tpa), with estimated capital cost of $103m.

Pilbara Minerals will also use the financing to build the 5Mtpa crushing and ore sorting facility to replace the existing contracted crushing facility.

The new facility is also expected to enable production of 1Mtpa of spodumene concentrate capacity across Pilbara Minerals’ entire Pilgangoora Operation.

This debt facility is subject to the final negotiation of its terms, detailed financing documents’ completion, and fulfilment of conditions ‘precedent for financial close and drawdown’.

Pilbara Minerals said in a statement: “It is expected that key terms of the facility will reflect current market conditions for the type and size of the debt being provided and is expected to be finalised during this quarter.”

Claimed to be the world’s biggest rare earths producer outside of China, Australia has been looking to diversify critical minerals procurement amid mounting tensions between Western governments and China, reported Reuters.

Northern Australia Resources Minister Madeleine King said: “The global path to net zero runs through the Australian resources sector and producing battery materials is a vital contributor to a lower carbon economy.

“The NAIF has now made financing commitments of $3.87bn to projects across Northern Australia, with around $1.9bn of that in Western Australia (WA).

“In total, the projects across WA are forecast to support more than 6,380 jobs and deliver more than $17.4bn in economic impact, which will be transformational.”