Emerging lithium producer Argosy Minerals (ASX: AGY) now has 38 hectares of lithium brine evaporation ponds at its flagship Rincon project in Argentina, heralding the completion of stage one and two works and freeing the company to eye commercial production.
This is up from the 19ha of lithium brine evaporation ponds that were operational in August this year.
“Argosy continues to accomplish significant development milestones as we continue our aggressive development strategy and progress toward becoming a commercial scale lithium carbonate equivalent producer in the near-term,” Argosy managing director Jerko Zuvela said.
Lithium brine pumping is underway into the new evaporation ponds with one larger pond now filled and two large ones to be filled later this month.
Meanwhile, the smaller ponds will be used to store concentrated lithium brine and will be lined in January.
According to Argosy, the next phase of evaporation pond construction will begin once a decision to pursue a commercial-scale processing plant has been made either immediately or via a staged production strategy, with both subject to securing of funding.
As part of this process, Argosy is finalising a preliminary off-take arrangement for lithium carbonate produced under stage one.
Potential off-take and investment parties are also reviewing results from a preliminary technical and economic study (PEA) into the commercial viability of Rincon.
Rincon lithium brine project
Equivalent to a JORC scoping study, the PEA revealed a base case scenario for Rincon of a 10,000 tonne per annum lithium carbonate equivalent operation.
The study estimates a 16.5 year life of mine and annual pre-tax free cash flow of US$74 million.
“Together with the PEA outcomes recently announced and the completion of this scale of evaporation ponds, the company is targeting developing the commercial stage of operations as quickly as possible,” Mr Zuvela added.
To get commercial production off the ground, the PEA envisages Argosy would require a minimum of US$140.9 million in capital expenditure, with a payback period of just over two years.
A 15,000tpa scenario would require capital expenditure of US$274.5 million.