Argosy Minerals (ASX: AGY) is another step closer to producing its first battery grade lithium carbonate equivalent from its Rincon project in Argentina after announcing it has completed its stage two evaporation ponds and first production well.
The production well is currently undergoing final testing before commissioning, with pumping of lithium brine into the evaporation ponds due to begin “imminently”.
With the completion of the stage two ponds, Argosy now has more than 11 hectares of ponds to concentrate the lithium brine during Argentina’s summer and peak solar evaporation season.
Once concentrated, the lithium will be fed through Argosy’s 500 tonne per annum pilot plant to produce its first lithium carbonate equivalent for the battery market by the end of March 2018.
“Argosy continues to accomplish significant development milestones to continue our aggressive development strategy to fast-track towards production of lithium carbonate equivalent product,” Argosy managing director Jerko Zuvela said.
Meanwhile, exploration at the project is ongoing with four diamond drill holes completed out of an eight-hole program.
In late November, Argosy revealed the first two diamond drill holes had returned lithium average between 400 milligrams per litre and close to 500mg/l, which “exceeded” the company’s expectations.
Assays from the other two holes are pending and a maiden JORC-compliant resource is due in early 2018.
Argosy is currently farming in to Rincon, and once stage two works at the project have been completed, Argosy’s stake will increase to 77.5%. Full scale production is planned under stage three and will boost Argosy’s ownership in Rincon to 90%.
In addition to its active exploration program at Rincon, Argosy expanded its landholding in Argentina’s Salta Province after securing a binding option agreement to acquire the Mina Tincal tenement for a total of US$800,000.
Adjacent to Rincon’s north, Mina Tincal encompasses 196 hectares and 20 hectares at a nearby industrial site, which Argosy plans will be used to host the stage two pilot plant. The Olacapto industrial site includes access to natural gas, electricity, rail and water for the proposed second pilot plant.
Argosy’s stock was up 3% in early morning trade to A$0.24.