Stage 2 Expansion Approved for Olaroz Lithium Project

Orocobre Ltd., Toyota Tsusho Corp., and joint-venture company boards have approved investment in a Stage 2 Expansion of the brine-based Olaroz lithium facility in Jujuy province, northern Argentina. The expansion will increase Olaroz lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) production capacity by approximately 25,000 metric tons per year (mt/y), bringing total capacity to about 42,500 mt/y.

Olaroz Stage 2 will produce technical grade Li2CO3, part of which will be utilized as feedstock for a proposed lithium hydroxide (LiOH) plant to be built in Naraha, Japan. During Stage 2 development, Olaroz Stage 1 will progressively migrate 100% to production of battery-grade Li2CO3.

As of late November 2018, negotiations on the EPC contract for the proposed Naraha plant were advancing rapidly between Toyota Tsusho as operator and Veolia, the preferred EPC contractor. Upon achieving full Stage 2 production rates, Olaroz product distribution will be 17,500 mt/y of battery-grade Li2CO3, 9,500 mt/y of technical-grade Li2CO3 as feedstock for 10,000-mt/y of battery-grade LiOH production at Naraha, and an additional 15,500 mt/y of technical- grade Li2CO3 for marketing.

Construction of key items for the Stage 2 expansion is ongoing, including ponds, roads and camp upgrades. Commissionings of Stage 2 at Olaroz and of the Naraha LiOH plant are currently scheduled for the second half of 2020. Total capital expenditure for Olaroz Stage 2 is estimated at $295 million, including a $25 million contingency. This estimate excludes funding for a crystallizer/ evaporator project, which would operate for both Stage 1 and Stage 2, on which feasibility studies are currently being undertaken. The cost of this project is estimated at approximately $15 million.

As featured in Womp 2019 Vol 01 -