Amid strong demand, clean lithium developer Lake Resources (ASX: LKE) will expand a drilling and testing program beyond what is required for definitive feasibility study (DFS) work at its flagship Kachi lithium brine project in Argentina.
The new program aims to upgrade Kachi’s total resource of 4.4 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent and accelerate the conversion of inferred resources to measured and indicated categories.
It will also allow for an expansion beyond the current 25,500t per annum lithium carbonate production outlined in pre-feasibility studies.
Managing director Steve Promnitz said the change in strategy comes amid strong demand for Lake’s high purity, sustainably-produced concentrate.
“This drill program will support current production and allow for further expansion of Kachi’s resource, making it a globally-significant project in terms of high purity lithium carbonate production,” he said.
“If we can scale up production to double the pre-feasibility volume of 25,500tpa or more, we will rapidly become of the largest producers of high-purity, battery-quality lithium carbonate at a time when the supply-demand gap is widening rapidly.”
Electric vehicle manufacturers worldwide are leading the way in lithium consumption, with Volkswagen’s new battery gigafactories expected to consume 66% of current production by 2030.
“There is no question that the billions of dollars being invested in the world’s clean energy drive requires an increased supply of sustainably-sourced battery materials,” Mr Promnitz said.
“That is exactly what [we] intend to deliver and importantly our projects are highly scalable.”
Drilling and sampling
The expanded work program at Kachi will comprise diamond drilling of four wells from four platforms for 1,600m, together with brine and sediment sampling and pump testing to refine its resource estimations.
Infill drilling will assist the conversion of resources to a higher category after the new data has been collated and the drilling of four additional production wells has also been planned.
The work has been scheduled to start before month end.
Salt lake location
The Kachi lithium brine project covers 740 square kilometres of leases over a salt lake just south of the large Salar del Hombre Muerto lithium mine owned by US-based Livent Corporation.
In March, Lake upgraded the project’s estimated net present value to US$1.6 billion based on 25,000tpa production and revised lithium price estimates in a refreshed pre-feasibility study.
The new price forecast of US$15,500/t for high-purity, battery-grade lithium carbonate demonstrated a more robust financial outcome for the project than the original conservative assumption of US$11,000/t.
Lake is seeking to further boost its reserve base across a portfolio of projects in Argentina’s famed Lithium Triangle in response to projections of a growing supply deficit from 2024.