Argosy Minerals (ASX: AGY) is on the cusp of becoming a lithium carbonate producer for battery markets after it reported plans to begin processing its lithium brine concentrate through its pilot plant before the week is out.
Preparations for kicking-off processing at the company’s flagship Rincon project in Argentina have almost been finalised except for some last checks.
Lithium brine concentrate will then be transported from the Rincon project’s stage one evaporation ponds to the pilot plant which is situated at Argosy’s industrial warehouse site.
Once the brine has been delivered and finals plant preparations have been completed, Argosy expects to produce its first lithium carbonate equivalent from its Rincon lithium brine.
“Argosy continues its fast-tracked development strategy and we are excited about the upcoming lithium processing test works and becoming a lithium carbonate equivalent producer,” Argosy managing director Jerko Zuvela said.
“Our early-mover proof-of-concept and fast-track production strategy is serialising enormous interest and potential long-term benefits for the company given the insatiable demand in the international market place, as we move towards building a sustainable battery grade lithium production company,” Mr Zuvela added.
The stage one pilot plant will have the capacity to produce up to 500tpa of lithium carbonate equivalent. However, plant commissioning and fine-tuning are expected to continue throughout April before the plant can achieve full capacity.
Lithium carbonate equivalent samples will be sent to international cathode and battery industry stakeholders across Japan, Korea and China for quality confirmation and testing. First samples are anticipated to be shipped off next month and May.
According to Argosy, this will enable the company to execute medium and long-term offtake arrangements.
Argosy is also negotiating the sale of its excess lithium carbonate production and it anticipates announcing formal arrangements by the end of May.
Stage two evaporation pond work begins
While commissioning its stage one plant, Argosy is busy advancing its stage two evaporation pond works after receiving formal approval earlier this month.
In mid-March, the company received its final regulatory approvals to construct eight more evaporation ponds that were planned under the stage two development.
Once these extra ponds have been constructed, Argosy will have 34 hectares of lithium brine evaporation ponds in operation.
Site works have begun and Argosy has confirmed budget and time-frames for the ponds’ completion with its construction contractor.
The ponds are scheduled to be ready for the next summer.
“The approval and commencement of the stage two evaporation ponds signifies the company’s confidence in the long-term sustainability of our Rincon project, which is further magnified by the work going on in support of the PEA and the growing understanding of how to maximise Rincon’s economic potential,” Mr Zuvela said.
Shares in Argosy had slipped almost 1.5% in early morning trade to A$0.335.