Lithium Americas (TSX: LAC) (NYSE: LAC) announced on Friday that the company and its joint venture partner Ganfeng Lithium have approved a second stage expansion at the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in Jujuy province, Argentina.
Caucharí-Olaroz, named after the two salars in northwest Argentina where the project is located, has an annual production capacity of 40,000 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) over a projected mine life of 40 years.
Development planning is now underway for the Stage 2 expansion, which is expected to add at least 20,000 tpa of production capacity to the Caucharí-Olaroz operation, beginning in 2025.
Construction of the Stage 2 expansion is expected to begin in H2 2022, following the commissioning and start-up of the Stage 1 operation.
Infrastructure additions to support long-term expansions beyond Stage 2 are also targeted by the JV partners.
Meanwhile, construction of the initial 40,000 tpa Stage 1 operation is progressing and remains on track for completion within the next year. First production is expected in mid-2022.
In Q2 2021, senior members of Ganfeng Lithium’s commissioning and construction team arrived in Argentina to assist the project through to start-up.
“Caucharí-Olaroz is on track to become the largest new lithium brine operation in over 20 years,” Lithium Americas chairman George Ireland said in a news release.
The Caucharí-Olaroz partners plan to provide further details of the Stage 2 expansion plan by Q4 2021, followed by an updated feasibility study in 2022.
Shares of Lithium Americas rose 1.9% by 12:30 ET on the TSX, giving the company a market capitalization of C$2.2 billion.