Lithium producer Altura Mining has called an end to discussions with one of China’s biggest battery manufacturers for a controlling stake in the miner, saying that any change of ownership would likely not deliver fair value for shareholders.
Earlier this year Altura announced to the ASX that it had been approached by its biggest shareholder, Chinese battery manufacturer Shaanxi J&R Optimum Energy Co, to sound out the possibility of the sale of a controlling stake.
Shenzhen-listed Shaanxi currently holds a 19.3 per cent stake in Altura, while the battery manufacturer’s subsidiary, Optimum Nano, is also one of the company’s foundation offtake partners, accounting for around half of the forecast production from Altura’s Pilgangoora operation, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Altura said this week that it had evaluated the potential transaction but said shareholders would be better served by the company focusing on the commissioning and development of its lithium mine.
“The board of Altura has determined that on account of prevailing market sentiment towards listed lithium companies and the fact Altura is commissioning Pilgangoora and transitioning from a development to production company, any change of control transaction would be unlikely to deliver an appropriate valuation outcome for our shareholders,” the company told the ASX.
Altura hit a significant milestone at Pilgangoora this week, with the first shipments of spodumene concentrate being trucked from the mine to an export terminal in Port Hedland, in WA’s north.
The spodumene concentrate is being hauled by Australian transport firm Qube Logistics.
Altura managing director James Brown said the start of haulage was an important step for the company.
“We will continue to focus on working towards this first shipment and subsequent shipments for the remainder of 2018,” Mr Brown said.
“We remain fully focused on the ramp-up, so we can get the project operating at its optimum level as soon as possible.”