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4 projects to strengthen Argentina’s lithium industry

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2019
4 projects to strengthen Argentina’s lithium industry

Argentina's energy and mines ministry expects investments in the lithium industry to grow to US$1.8bn next year and exports could reach US$2bn by 2022. 

Foreign companies focus mainly on Salta, Jujuy and Catamarca provinces, which are set to see 2022 lithium carbonate capacity of 100,000t/y, 105,000t/y and 126,000t/y, respectively. 

In Catamarca and Jujuy four key projects have been advancing during the last three months. 

TRES QUEBRADAS

Controlled by Canada's Neolithium, Tres Quebradas has moved from discovery to full development within two years. Recently, Fiambalá municipality, Catamarca province, has granted 610ha for an industrial park where Neolithium wants to build a lithium carbonate plant. 

Tres Quebradas encompasses 28,900ha with a mine life of 35 years, contains 1.2Mt of lithium carbonate and projected capex is US$319mn. The nearest paved road is connected to the Chilean port of Caldera.

Last September, Neolithium announced its first batch of lithium carbonate production achieving 99.1% purity. 

CAUCHARÍ-OLAROZ

Owned by Lithium Americas and Ganfeng Lithium in a 50:50 joint venture, Caucharí-Olaroz, Jujuy province, has potential for 40,000t/y of lithium carbonate if updated development permits submitted in August get approved. 

Mine life is set to be 40 years with updated capital costs of US$565mn. The project is already fully funded to production and its first lithium carbonate concentrate is targeted by early 2021. 

It hosts 1.3Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent in the probable reserves category plus 187,000t of proven reserves.

SAL DE VIDA

Hosting 1.1Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent and 4.2Mt of potash equivalent reserves, Sal de Vida is becoming more important. Australian owner Galaxy Resources is studying how to install fewer ponds and shorten the evaporation cycle. This is to update tha capex and opex numbers from the 2018 feasibility study, which indicates a 40-year mine life with production of 25,000t/y lithium carbonate and 95,000t of potash.

Located in Catamarca province, Sal de Vida has the potential to generate US$354mn in annual revenues.

PASTOS GRANDES

Located in the Altiplano-Puna region, Pastos Grandes is controlled by Millennial Lithium, which forecast 25,000t of lithium carbonate per year. 

Last month, Argentina's ministry of work and production granted Millennial Lithium a fiscal stability certificate through which it reduced the corporate tax rate from 30% to 25% from January for the next 30 years.

The project has 4.12Mt of lithium carbonate in resources and its plant grade brine must be treated at the end of the year. The pilot plant is planned to produce around 3t of lithium carbonate per month and will be powered by the company' solar hybrid generating system. Pastos Grandes has the potential to produce within three years.

Millennial hopes to receive the environmental impact assessment approval by the end of the year.

Photo credit: Millennial Lithium

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