Advanced lithium brine explorer Argosy Minerals (ASX: AGY) has gained official environmental approval from Argentina’s Salta Province authorities to develop and operate the proposed lithium processing plant at the flagship Rincon project.
The Salta Province Government has now approved Argosy’s environmental impact report for the proposed 2,000 tonne per annum modular lithium carbonate processing plant and ongoing operation at Rincon.
In addition to the plant, the approval encompasses construction of camp and accommodation facilities, settling ponds, access roads, industrial and chemical processing works, environmental and effluent management, local employment objectives, water consumption and contingency plans.
Argosy managing director Jerko Zuvela said it was an “exciting period” for the company and its joint venture subsidiary Puna as the project advances to become the first commercial lithium producer in Salta Province.
“This is a significant milestone and I thank the Puna team for such an achievement, whose lithium processing expertise is critical and provides us a distinct advantage to our lithium peers – having successfully proven our chemical processing capability in producing 99.5% lithium carbonate equivalent product and now working toward commercial scale production,” Mr Zuvela added.
Advancing Rincon lithium brine project
Argosy will now escalate financing discussions with potential funders, with capital expenditure for the plant estimated at US$14.3 million (A$20.8 million).
Plant construction is expected to take up to 15 months with a further four months for commissioning.
In parallel with the 2,000tpa plant, Argosy is preparing applications to boost plant output to 10,000tpa.
Additionally, Argosy plans to ship 5t of lithium carbonate produced from its pilot plant in the current quarter as part of an agreement with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation.
The trial 5t cargo has exceeded quality specifications under the Mitsubishi agreement with the lithium carbonate purity ranging up to 99.8% with minimal impurities.
Argosy has a 77.5% interest in the Rincon project and is earning up to 90% in the asset.