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The Altura lithium mine showing processing plant and product stockpiles. Image: Altura Mining

Altura Mining has folded under the pressure of the struggling lithium market, with the company set to start a sale process as its Pilgangoora operation in Western Australia is placed on care and maintenance.

Hit by lithium oversupply and other unfavourable market factors, Altura has handed over company control to Richard Tucker and John Bumbak of KordaMentha Restructuring.

The decision follows unsuccessful attempts by Altura to refinance more than $250 million of debt owed to creditors.

Tucker said prices for the lithium spodumene had fallen by about 50 per cent in the past two years.

“… Altura has been losing money for some time. It was not sustainable and the company was simply too highly leveraged,” he said.

Altura has capacity to produce 220,000 tonnes of lithium spodumene concentrate a year at the Pilgangoora mine.

Its lithium is further refined overseas for the manufacture of batteries for electric cars, solar batteries and other products.

Tucker expects “excellent” medium and long-term prospects for lithium prices as demand for electric cars and solar batteries soars under the pressure of Chinese Government policies and other large markets.

“There has already been strong interest to buy the company and we expect a vigorous sale process,” he said.

Perth-based Altura employs around 100 people in the Pilbara, most of which are fly-in, fly-out workers. The company declared commercial production at the Pilgangoora mine in March last year.