Sigma Lithium’s project in Brazil to benefit from new rules

Construction at the Grota do Cirilo lithium project in Brazil. (Image courtesy of Sigma Lithium.)

Canadian minerals explorer Sigma Lithium (TSX-V; NASDAQ: SGML) said on Tuesday its 25%-ready Grota do Cirilo lithium project in Brazil will benefit from a presidential decree issued last week allowing unrestricted trade of any products containing the battery metal.

The Brazilian government has simplified foreign trade procedures on export of lithium and its derivatives by eliminating the requirement to solicit quotas and export authorizations from the nuclear authority.

The measure is expected to boost lithium investments, with the Vale do Jequitinhonha region in Minas Gerais state, which hosts most of Brazil’s lithium reserves, forecast to attract 15 billion reais (about $2.8 bn) through 2030. 

Sigma Lithium’s $5.1 billion Grota do Cirilo, the largest hard rock lithium deposit in the Americas, is expected to produce 531,000 tonnes of lithium per year from two deposits, it said.

The Vancouver-based company, which has a market value of C$1.88 billion ($1.4 billion), is building the project in phases, with the initial mine on track to be commissioned in December this year.

“The continuous advance of final construction drawings towards 65% completion also allows us to plan for the total amount of bulk construction material to be utilized, potentially extending our management of our supply chains,” Calvyn Gardner, co-CEO of Sigma Lithium said.

An April feasibility study anticipated an eight-year operating life for the first phase, which it valued at $1.6 billion. Overall, the project has potential to deliver battery-grade lithium for 13 years once its built.

Sigma noted that it has obtained a requested extension of its current environmental licenses to allow for the simultaneous mining of the north pit and the south pit in phase 1.

It said the permit allows it to plan a “significant” expansion of the production capacity in phase 2 by increasing the area where the dry stacking of the tailings of the production plant is allowed.

“The expansion also makes the municipality of Araçuaí (where the south pit is located) eligible to receive royalties from Sigma Lithium’s production, sharing them with Itinga where the north pit and the production plant are located,” the company said in Tuesday’s update.

Atlantic supplier

Grota do Cirilo will be powered by a hydroelectric project located 50km (31 miles) away from the site and serve what Sigma dubs the emerging Atlantic supply chain for batteries and electric vehicles manufactured in North America and Europe.  

Sigma expects a bifurcation in the market as growth outside of China accelerates with environmental factors including water, energy use and tailings becoming increasingly important to how producers are assessed.

The company’s co-CEO, Ana Cabral-Gardner, believes that Brazil has the potential to become a “green lithium powerhouse”.

Brazil is already a global case study in low carbon mobility powering cars with ethanol, biofuels and natural gas.

Sigma Lithium mine in Brazil to benefit from new rules
Aerial of Grota do Cirilo construction progress. (Image courtesy of Sigma Lithium.)