Next wave of lithium projects advance development and grow resource bases

Next wave of lithium projects advance development and grow resource bases

Sigma Lithium and Lithium Chile have updated reserve and resource estimates in Brazil and Chile respectively.

Blue View

On the 4th of December, Sigma Lithium announced a 67% increase to identified mineral reserves at the Grota do Cirilo project in Brazil, able to support expected production for a 20-year life of mine. As one of the more advanced lithium projects in development, with first production scheduled for Q2 2023, the extended life of mine would prolong the targeted final production of 104.2kt LCE contained within spodumene concentrates to 2043. New production will be welcomed by downstream lithium processors, which have experienced tight supply and rapidly increasing feedstock prices in 2022. With existing offtake agreements in place with LG Chemical and Mitsui accounting for almost all of first-year output and ~30% of post-2023 production, however, the impact of new production on easing spot market availability issues will likely be delayed beyond 2023.   

At Lithium Chile’s Salar de Arizaro lithium brine operation in Chile, resource estimates were also increased by 81% in December, bringing contained lithium carbonate in indicated and inferred resources to 2.59Mt LCE at the project. The project remains at an early stage of development, however, and permitting issues remain regarding the development of new lithium extraction in Chile.  

Global lithium reserves were reported by the USGS to total 117.1Mt LCE in 2022, predominantly within Chile, Australia and Argentina. While overall lithium resources and reserves identified are not expected to restrict supply in the coming decade, increasing the resource and reserve base at projects under development provides greater certainty to investors of long-term cashflow and greater overall value of deposits.  

  • 07 Dec 2022
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Lithium

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