Argentina to Receive $4.2 Billion Lithium Investment Over the Next Five Years

Argentina expects to receive $4.2 billion investments in its lithium industry over the next five years, which would help it double the production in 2023 and reach 175,000 tonnes of output in 2025.

Argentina, with its large lithium reserves, has attracted some major companies in the mining industry over the past year, including the world’s second biggest miner Rio Tinto and South Korean steelmaker Posco.

Argentina sits atop the “lithium triangle”, a region it shares with neighbors Bolivia and Chile. The region is thought to contain nearly 56% of the world’s lithium resources.

The investment means, according to Argentinian minister of productive development Kulfas, the South American nation could become the world’s third or fourth biggest lithium producer.

Kulfas said the investment would be crucial to build the necessary infrastructure and improve efficiency. He also underlined the need for sound policies that help attract more investment without neglecting the environment.

Argentina produced 33,000 tonnes of lithium in 2020 and estimates that it will reach 50,000 tonnes of the battery metal this year.

Argentina’s northern provinces are emerging as a hub for greenfield lithium projects, attracting both large and small companies.

The nations’ lithium portfolio includes 23 projects in different stages of development, including the under construction Cauchari-Olaroz mine owned by China’s Ganfeng Lithium and Lithium Americas. The project is expected to become Argentina’s top producer with 40,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) a year, starting in second half of 2022.

There are currently two lithium mines in the country that are in production, operated by Australia’s Orocobre and US mining company Livent Corp, which have supply ties with Toyota and BMW respectively.

Rio Tinto also prepares to start operations in Argentina as it completed in March the acquisition of the Rincon project in Salta, which holds reserves of almost 2 million tonnes of contained LCE, sufficient for a 40 year mine life.

Posco also pledged to invest $4 billion in a project at a salt flat called Salar del Hombre Muerto, located on the border between the Salta and Catamarca provinces.

Australia’s Lake Resources is another company present in the area, with the Kachi lithium project. It is expected to initially produce 50,000 tonnes per annum from 2024. Ford has recently made a bet on the project to buy 25,000 tonnes of the battery metal annually.

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