Emerging lithium producer, Argosy Minerals (ASX: ARGY) has begun pumping lithium brine from its first production well into its stage two ponds, which are part of the company’s Argentinian project in the Salta Province region.
Natural solar evaporation will be used to concentrate the brine in readiness for further processing into a lithium carbonate equivalent via the stage one pilot plant, which is due to start by the end of the first quarter of next year.
Argosy’s evaporation ponds encompass more than 11 hectares, with stage one and stage two ponds to be used for concentrating the lithium brine during the region’s 2017-2018 peak solar evaporation season.
According to Argosy, the during the summer, evaporation averages at 10mm a day.
“Argosy continues to accomplish significant development milestones as we continue our aggressive development strategy and progress towards becoming a lithium carbonate equivalent producer in the near-term,” Argosy managing director Jerko Zuvela said.
The stage one pilot plant is under construction, and once complete, will be able to produce up to 500 tonnes per annum of the battery-grade lithium carbonate equivalent.
Meanwhile, drilling of a second production well is underway, with a third well scheduled for completion next month.
In readiness for its final product, Argosy has held discussions with Chinese-based companies in the lithium-ion battery sector. The discussions have involved potential propositions and development strategies for Rincon including investment funding, offtake and other value-adding agreements for advancing the project into its third stage.
Additionally, resource upgrade drilling is ongoing at the project with six diamond holes drilled to date and a further two to be finalised next month and a JORC-compliant resource to be released soon after.
Testwork on the initial drill samples has indicated positive drainable porosity and specific yield results.
Rincon is subject to a farm-in agreement where, once Argosy has completed stage two works, its project interest will increase to 77.5%.
Full scale production is planned under stage three and will increase Argosy’s stake to 90%.
“I am excited about our future prospects and the interest generated from lithium end-users, which will see Argosy as the second ASX-listed lithium producer,” Mr Zuvela added.
By early afternoon trade, Argosy’s shares were steady at A$0.24 after a rapid 8% surge in early morning trade before falling back.