Chile-focused junior Cleantech Lithium (AIM: CTL) said on Thursday that a scoping study for its Laguna Verde lithium project in northern Chile has confirmed “outstanding” economics.
The exploration and development company said initial drilling results support the potential for the project to become a major supplier of battery grade lithium to European and US markets.
Cleantech based its analysis on a model that calls for a mine with annual production of 20,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium carbonate and an operational life of 30 years, according to measured and indicated resources.
The study estimated accumulated net cashflows — after tax and including royalties — of $6.3 billion to be generated over the Laguna Verde’s operational life, with an operating cost of $3,875 per tonne. It also estimates an after tax net present value of $1.83 billion.
Total capital expenditure is pegged at $383.6 million, with lithium production starting in 2026, though Cleantech’s management continues to target a start of operations in late 2025.
The company noted a pre-feasibility study will begin immediately and it is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.
“Chilean lithium sector experts at Ad-Infinitum have already commenced work on the Francisco Basin scoping study and our board is hopeful that the economics and ESG credentials prove to be as attractive as we’ve seen for Laguna Verde,” chief executive Aldo Boitano said in the statement.
The company plans to mine the battery metal by using direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology. This allows drawing lithium from the brine, without the need for evaporation ponds, which results in no depletion from the aquifer or harm to the local environment, the company says.
Laguna Verde and Francisco Basin are CleanTech Lithium’s flagship projects. In addition, the miner owns the Llamara greenfield project, located about 600km to the south of the two assets.
Lithium prices have soared 1,200% over the past several years as supply has failed to match growing demand. That has hurt battery makers, who have been forced to raise prices.
The average price for a lithium-ion battery pack went up by 7% in 2022, according to BloombergNEF, the first increase since the group began their survey in 2010.