Lithium Americas to restart Argentina project

The project is located in the Salar de Olaroz and Salar de Caucharí, adjacent to Orocobre’s Olaroz facility, which has been in production since 2015. (Image courtesy of Lithium Americas)

Lithium Americas Corp., Vancouver, Canada, (TSX, NYSE: LAC) is gearing up to resume construction activities at its Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in Jujuy, Argentina, after halting it in March to comply with the country’s measures against the coronavirus pandemic, reports.

The company, which is developing the asset with the help of China’s Ganfeng Lithium, had to suspend construction at Caucharí-Olaroz again in early July after two workers tested positive for covid-19.

“We remain focused on protecting our workers and communities, while coordinating closely with the province of Jujuy to ensure we operate responsibly and safely as we begin to restart construction activities over the next few weeks,” president and chief executive Jon Evans said while delivering second-quarter results.

Shares in the company climbed to a one-year high on Friday in Toronto on the news. They touched a C$10.57 intraday-high, before closing up 7.7% to $10.44.  The upward trend continued on Monday, with Lithium Americas’ stock rising a further 7.95% to C$11.27 in Toronto by 9:57 a.m. EDT.

The Vancouver-based miner said Caucharí-Olaroz was 47% complete as of June 30, with 75% or $427 million of the planned capital committed and 54%, or $304 million spent.

It also said that joint venture partner Ganfeng Lithium was increasing its stake in Caucharí-Olaroz from 50% to 51%. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter, Lithium Americas said.

Based on an updated feasibility study, released last year, the proposed lithium mine is expected to produce 40,000 tonnes of the battery metal a year.

Caucharí-Olaroz was slated to begin operations in early 2021, with production ramping up to 15,250 tonnes and 36,000 tonnes next year and in 2022, respectively.

The mine would achieve full production before the end of 2022, continuing to generate 40,000 tonnes per year from 2023 to 2060.

The projections were made before covid-19 hit the world economy. The company is now reviewing the impacts of the project’s suspensions on the timeline and budget. It said it would provide an update once those assessments had been completed.

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