Argosy Minerals (ASX: AGY) is another step closer to its first lithium carbonate concentrate with its initial stage two lithium brine evaporation ponds now fully operational at the Rincon lithium project in Argentina.
More than 10 hectares of ponds have been filled with lithium brine in readiness for solar evaporation during the region’s summer season.
This latest advancement follows Argosy’s news in late December it had finalised the first of its two production wells and began pumping brine, with the second production well also now complete.
Argosy plans to undertake pumping tests to measure flow rates, but current observations reveal the production wells will be ample for all pumping operations under stage two.
About 23 hectares of evaporation ponds remain to be developed under stage two and will commence once Argosy receives regulatory approvals.
To process the brine, Argosy is constructing a stage one 500 tonne per annum pilot plant which it had originally pegged to begin producing a lithium carbonate equivalent by the end of the March quarter.
However, the company now anticipates it will begin lithium concentrate test work during the March quarter and start producing the lithium carbonate equivalent soon after.
With stage two development beginning prior to completing stage one, Argosy has accelerated the project’s timeline. As a result, it has reached an agreement with the its joint venture partner Puna Mining to secure its 77.5% interest earlier than anticipated.
“Argosy continues its rapid progress and aggressive development strategy towards becoming and lithium carbonate equivalent producer in the near-term,” Argosy managing director Jerko Zuvela said.
“The company’s joint venture partner and processing expert, Mr Pablo Alurralde has made significant progress and the company is confident of achieving its first major milestone target,” Mr Zuvela claimed.
Meanwhile, second phase drilling is due to resume at Rincon this week with two diamond drill holes remaining in an eight-hole program.
Argosy anticipates announcing a resource estimate for the project by the end of the quarter.
The company is also in the process of acquiring the Mina Tincal tenements adjacent to Rincon, which, once complete, will boost its landholding in the Salta Province to 2,561.9 hectares of lithium prospective land and infrastructure.
Full scale production for Rincon is planned under stage three and this will increase Argosy’s ownership in the project to 90%.
Argosy’s shares slumped more than 5.3% in late afternoon trade to close the day at A$0.44.