March 6, 2020 / 8:50 AM / in 3 months

Australian lithium miner Altura clinches $202 mln finance package

March 6 (Reuters) - Australia’s Altura Mining said on Friday it has secured a new financing package totalling A$305 million ($202 million) which it expects to bolster its operations in a weak lithium market.

As part of the package, it’s current lenders have extended an existing loan facility of $161 million for an additional three years to August 2023, it said in a statement.

The loan was a subject of concern last year with the company flagging risks for the group to continue as a going concern if it failed to refinance the loan and meet sales and production forecasts.

“The combined sum of the financing package gives us considerable balance sheet strength and working capital headroom so we can continue to push through this period of market weakness,” Altura Managing Director, James Brown, said.

The company had been struggling with funding amid weaker lithium prices owing to overproduction of the metal. Earlier, this week, the world’s no. 2 lithium producer SQM warned that the lower prices could linger into 2020.

The lithium miner said it had raised A$11.2 million through a placement with institutional investors with members of the Altura board also participating and had also secured A$50 million standby equity funding.

Meanwhile, the delay in resumption of operations of the company’s Chinese offtake partners, owing to restrictions following the coronavirus outbreak, is expected to push Altura’s planned February 2020 shipment to March.

$1 = 1.5115 Australian dollars Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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