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Orocobre to expand capacity at Olaroz lithium facility to 35,000 tpa

Orocobre Ltd. plans to increase lithium carbonate equivalent production capacity at its Olaroz lithium facility in Argentina to 35,000 tonnes per annum, from 17,500 tpa currently, as part of a phase-two expansion.

Commissioning of the additional capacity, which is expected to cost US$190 million including a US$25 million contingency, is targeted for late 2018 or early 2019, the company said on Dec. 14.

The capital expenditure will be financed through a combination of project finance and cash flows from the first stage of operations.

The company is considering constructing a 10,000-tpa, battery-grade lithium hydroxide plant, with Japan as the preferred location, which is expected to cost an additional US$30 million before any government incentives.

The second-stage operating costs for battery-grade lithium carbonate production are expected to decrease to US$2,500 per tonne in fiscal 2018, compared to about US$3,500 per tonne currently.

Orocobre and its joint venture partners, Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Jujuy Energia y Mineria Sociedad del Estado, expect to reach a final investment decision by mid-2017.