Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) announced Monday it has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC; Vancouver, BC) to develop the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in Argentina after SQM contributed $25 million in exchange for a 50% ownership stake in LAC subsidiary Minera Exar.
LAC CEO Tom Hodgson says that “one of the principal objectives of the jv is to leverage the technical experience of SQM to materially de-risk the development of Caucharí and to successfully advance a project to bring new supply to the market on a timely basis.”
SQM and LAC plans to execute a work and engineering plan immediately, which contemplates completion of an updated definitive feasibility study based on an existing study for Caucharí that was completed by Minera Exar in 2012. The updated study will evaluate economic feasibility for a project with a nameplate production capacity of approximately 40,000 m.t./year of lithium carbonate equivalent.
Sales of lithium and lithium derivatives from SQM’s existing operation in Chile accounted for 13% of revenues in 2015 and the company expects global demand for lithium chemicals to increase 10% this year from the 2015 global lithium demand of approximately 150, 000 m.t.
By Jing Chen
Source: Chemical Week
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