Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho (TTC) have approved the final investment decision (FID) for a second stage expansion of the Olaroz Lithium Facility in Argentina with an investment of $295m.
The stage 2 expansion of the Olaroz Lithium Facility will boost the current production of lithium carbonate by nearly 25,000 tonnes per annum (tpa).
After its commissioning, the stage 2 expansion will take the production capacity of the Argentine lithium plant, located in the Jujuy Province, to nearly 42,500 tpa. The commissioning is expected to take place in the second half of 2020.
Orocobre said that stage 2 will see the production of technical grade lithium carbonate. A part of the production will be used as feedstock for the proposed Naraha Lithium Hydroxide Plant to be constructed in Japan.
According to the Australian mineral resource company, the stage 1 Olaroz Lithium Facility will migrate progressively to 100% battery grade lithium carbonate production during the development of stage 2.
After achieving full production rates, the product distribution post completion of stage 2, is expected to be 17,500 tpa of battery grade lithium carbonate, 9,500 tpa of technical grade lithium carbonate as feedstock for the Naraha Lithium Hydroxide Plant, and 15,500 tpa of technical grade lithium carbonate.
Orocobre managing director Richard Seville and incoming CEO Martin Perez de Solay said: “This commitment to Stage 2 at Olaroz will cement Orocobre’s position as a global lithium producer operating at the bottom quartile of the lithium cost curve.
“The very strong relationship with TTC continues to be mutually beneficial and will support the ongoing development and further expansion of the world class Olaroz lithium asset.”
The stage 2 expansion of the Olaroz Lithium Facility will be funded by a mix of project debt, operating cashflows and shareholders loans. Orocobre revealed that a Japanese Bank is expected to provide $180 million of project finance for the stage 2 expansion on similar terms to the project finance facility of the Stage 1 plant.
TTC resource development department general manager and Orocobre director Masaharu Katayama said: “TTC is delighted to proceed with the further development of Olaroz. We expect the economic return on this incremental investment to be very attractive and it will be further enhanced with the proposed construction of a lithium hydroxide plant at Naraha in Japan that will utilise feedstock from Stage 2 at Olaroz.
“TTC is committed to quickly finalising an EPC contract with Veolia and commencing construction at Naraha.”