Australia's Pilbara Minerals to begin paying dividends on lithium boost

Pilbara Minerals will start paying dividends to shareholders for the first time in its 15-year existence as a publicly listed company, it said on Wednesday, as the lithium-focused miner benefits from market conditions for the battery metal.

The company said it is targeting a dividend payout ratio of 20%-30% of free cash flow, with the inaugural dividend payment to be applied to the current 2023 financial year.

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The miner attributed the new stance to its robust cash balance of A$1.375-billion ($929.23-million) as of September 30.

“The strong dynamics we are experiencing for the lithium materials market and healthy production profile have quickly transformed the financial position of the business,” MD and CEO Dale Henderson said.

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Spodumene, which is mostly utilized in the manufacturing of high-purity lithium for lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars, is seeing continued strong demand globally amid a push for greener, environment-friendly alternatives.

Pilbara produced 377 902 t of spodumene concentrate in fiscal 2022, 34% higher than 2021. It forecast production between 540 000 t to 580 000 t in 2023.

Major miners of the white metal in the West are looking to accelerate plans to reduce their dependency on China over acquiring raw materials used to develop electric vehicle batteries.

Shares of Pilbara are trading higher by 0.5% at A$4.86 as of 2326 GMT compared with a 0.3% drop in the broader benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index.

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