Go-ahead for $295m Argentina lithium expansion

he boards of joint venture partners Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) have approved a 25,000 t/y expansion of the Olaroz lithium facility, which will increase the Argentina-based operation’s output to 42,500 t/y.

Announcing the final investment decision this week, Orocobre said that the total capital expenditure for the expansion had increased from $285-million to $295-million, including $25-million contingency.

This excludes the crystalliser/evaporator project, which is currently the subject of a feasibility study. The project is expected to cost about $15-million.

The expansion is to be funded by a combination of project debt, operating cash flows and shareholders loans, with a Japanese bank expected to provide $180-million in project finance. Orocobre has about $308-million in cash available to fund its equity contributions, the ASX- and TSX-listed company stated.

Following the Stage 2 expansion, Olaroz will produce about 42,500 t/y of lithium carbonate, 17,500 t/y of which will be battery grade lithium carbonate and the balance will be technical grade.

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