Galaxy moves Sal de Vida lithium project to design phase

Galaxy Resources is targeting a 40-year operation at Sal de Vida with production of 25,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate for batteries and 95,000 tonnes of potassium chloride a year. (Image courtesy of Galaxy Resources.)

Australia’s Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) confirmed on Tuesday that it is on track to begin production at its Sal de Vida lithium brine project in Argentina by 2022, despite the covid-19 pandemic impacting the development schedule.

The Perth-based lithium producer and developer put the brakes on its flagship project in April, following a nation-wide lockdown ordered by the Argentinean government to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Galaxy is still targeting first production for 2022, but it now expects it to happen in the fourth quarter of the year

Work resumed in May under strict provincial protocols, which Galaxy said has hindered ground transportation and the movement of employees during the current design phase.

Impact on the overall schedule had been minimized through the adoption of an early works phase, Galaxy said. The company noted that while it is still targeting first production in 2022, it expects it now to be in the fourth quarter of the year.

Early works, such as pond construction and the procurement of long-lead items, are slated to begin in early 2021.

Galaxy Resources has de-risked the Sal de Vida Project by developing a simplified flowsheet, using mature technology and staging development.

Low-cost brine mine

The company aims to have a highly-competitive, low-cost lithium brine mine on the Salar del Hombre Muerto salt pan in north-west Argentina.

The project lies over 4,000 metres above sea level, part of the “lithium triangle” that includes neighbouring Chile and Bolivia, and which is home to more than 60% of the world’s annual lithium production.

Galaxy estimates Sal de Vida would take $474 million to develop and generate $354 million in annual revenue.

The company estimates it will spend about $12 million in the second half of 2020 on piloting, engineering, well drilling and owner costs.

Over a mine life of 40 years, Sal de Vida is expected to yield up to 25,000 tonnes a year of lithium carbonate for batteries and 95,000 tonnes of potassium chloride, a key fertilizer ingredient.