Major advancements in lithium production made in Argentina

Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp outlines the importance of the Rincon and Antofalla salars in northwest Argentina for global lithium production.

For the expansion of global lithium production, two of the most important areas to watch are the Rincon and Antofalla salars in the Lithium Triangle in Argentina. Here, Rio Tinto is targeting production starting in 2024 and Albemarle continues to expand one of the largest lithium resources in Argentina.

The other companies also count. At the Rincon salar, Argosy Minerals is anticipated to become one of the next companies to start delivery of lithium carbonate to the electric vehicle (EV) market by June 2023.

Argentina Lithium & Energy holds large exploration positions at both salars and is operated by a qualified discovery-focused management and geological team. At the Rincon salar, the company is drilling to expand on its discovery at Rincon West. At the Antofalla salar, the company is anticipated to be permitted for geophysics and initial drilling in June and July this year.

With the demand for lithium continuing to climb globally, these three companies – Rio Tinto, Argosy Minerals, and Argentina Lithium & Energy – are finding success at the Rincon Salar in the Andes of northwest Argentina in the Lithium Triangle.

At the Antofalla salar, 120km south of Rincon, Albemarle and Argentina Lithium continue to make advances.

Rincon Salar: First production of lithium carbonate expected in 2023

Argosy Minerals, an Australian developer (AGY.ASE), announced on 1 March this year that it has produced five tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate from small-batch operations on site at the Rincon salar. The company is targeting steady-state operations and to be producing battery-grade lithium carbonate at the rate of 2,000 tonnes/year by the end of June this year.

The company also reported that commissioning-phase works are nearing completion with production throughput and scaling trials in progress. Preliminary ramp-up works for continuous lithium carbonate production operations are progressing.

By achieving production and sales of lithium carbonate at the rate of 2,000 tonnes/year, Argosy is targeting earning the capital to increase production to 12,000 tonnes/year.

Rio Tinto has big plans at the Rincon salar

Rio Tinto PLC (RIO.L, RIO.NYSE), the world’s second-largest mining company by market capitalisation, acquired most of the Rincon salar in March 2021 from Rincon Mining for $825m. The company has been very active at the salar since acquisition.

According to, Rio Tinto has constructed and is operating a pilot plant on site. It is aggressively drilling to expand the resource and has started construction of a 3,000-tonne/year starter plant to produce lithium carbonate commencing in 2024. Its plan is to have the starter plant serve as a pilot for a much larger, 50,000-tonne/year plant there.

Rio has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ford Motor Company for delivery of lithium carbonate from the Rincon salar.

Argentina Lithium’s discovery at Rincon West

Argentina Lithium (LIT.V, PNXLF.OTC) controls 3,742 hectares at the Rincon salar, or the equivalent of 6 x 6km, lying adjacent on the west side of Rio Tinto, including an additional parcel of approximately 850 hectares that is adjacent to the north of Rio, and which is also believed to be prospective.

Early in 2022, the company applied geophysical imaging at Rincon West, and confirmed the potential for lithium brines under two-thirds of the initial property area. A diamond drill was mobilised to site in May 2022, and has been operating continuously, currently completing the eighth hole of an initial nine-hole exploration programme.

All drilling at Rincon West has sampled enriched lithium brines. Drilling is focused in the central basin area where excellent brine grades, similar to those reported for the Rio Tinto resource (Montgomery & Associates, July 26, 2021, the last resource estimate before Rio’s acquisition), have been returned over broad intervals.

Please note that proximity to other mining projects does not provide any assurance with respect to making similar discoveries.

The company is beginning work on an initial resource calculation for this first area based on these positive results. Additionally, environmental permitting is underway for two more recently acquired parcels at Rincon West, including the area to the north of Rio Tinto, where geophysics and drilling will be employed to potentially expand the resource over the next year.

Antofalla Salar

Argentina Lithium’s discovery at Rincon West is exciting, and the strategy of drilling out prospects adjacent to major resources appears to be paying off.

Now the company intends to apply the same strategy at its much larger Antofalla North project, located adjacent to Albemarle’s project in the Antofalla Salar.

The central area of the Antofalla salar is controlled by Albemarle Corp., the world’s second-largest lithium producer. Albemarle stated in its news release dated 12 September, 2016: “Albemarle believes that this lithium resource (the company’s concession at the Antofalla salar) will be certified as the largest lithium resource in Argentina.” The company continues to drill the project area.

Here, Argentina Lithium controls Antofalla North, covering the basin adjoining Albemarle on the north side. It measures 10,050 hectares, equivalent to 10 x 10km – a very substantial area.

Antofalla North is anticipated to be permitted for exploration programmes in the second quarter of 2023, and LIT is targeting first drilling for late in the second quarter — as the company simultaneously works toward a maiden resource at Rincon West.

Management at Argentina Lithium is focused on discovery

Argentina Lithium has a distinct advantage over other explorers in Argentina. The company is a member of the Grosso Group, which has been actively exploring in Argentina for 30 years, since mineral exploration started there in 1993.

Companies managed by the Grosso Group share operational resources, providing outsized ability to acquire and manage projects by deploying an expert team.

The Grosso Group has been involved in four major mineral discoveries in Argentina thus far. CEO Niko Cacos and VP-Exploration Miles Rideout are unrelenting in the pursuit of additional discoveries.

Sizeable lithium production is expected in the future

These two salars in Argentina in the Lithium Triangle, the Rincon salar and the Antofalla salar, are key areas to watch for potentially sizeable lithium production, expected to start this year and to expand for many years to come.

Please note, this article will also appear in the fourteenth edition of our quarterly publication.

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