Lake Resources NL (ASX: LKE; OTC: LLKKF) announced that it would be accelerating the expansion of its Argentinian lithium projects in response to strong market demand, based on direct lithium extraction from its Cauchari, Olaroz, and Paso Brine Projects, and its flagship Kachi Project.
The company said that 50,000 litres of brines from Lake’s Cauchari Project would be shipped and tested by groups specialising in direct lithium extraction and conversion to lithium hydroxide. LKE said that pre-feasibility study planning for Cauchari is currently underway.
Increasing supply-demand deficit
The company said that the demand for lithium continues to outstrip supply, with projections of a significant supply deficit emerging from 2024.
LKE said that in response to strong market demand, the company would be accelerating the expansion of its Argentinian lithium projects, based on direct lithium extraction from its Cauchari, Olaroz, and Paso Brine Projects, in addition to its flagship Kachi Project.
The company’s flagship Kachi Project had recently seen a boost, with its NPV upgraded to US$1.6 billion based on 25,500 tpa of high purity lithium production suitable for battery and cathode makers.
Acceleration in expansion of Argentinian projects
The company announced that there would be an acceleration across its broader project portfolio. The company holds mining leases over 47,000 hectares over three projects in Jujuy Province in north-west Argentina, including the Cauchari, Olaroz, and Paso Projects, 100% owned by Lake.
LKE said that from its Cauchari project, 50,000 litres of lithium brine samples are to be sent for testing by groups specialising in direct lithium extraction and the conversion of concentrates to lithium hydroxide. The company said that this will be followed by a scoping study to expand future production.
Lake had previously confirmed multiple high-grade lithium brines zones over a 506m interval (102m to 608m depth) in drilling in 2019 at the Cauchari Project. This drilling had confirmed similar grades and lithium brines extending into Lake’s properties from the adjoining Ganfeng/Lithium Americas JV production development at Cauchari. The higher-grade results had averaged 493 mg/L lithium over 343m (from 117m to 460m), up to 540 mg/L, with a Li/Mg ratio of 2.9.
Lake said that it is planning to commence pre-feasibility study work at Cauchari, including environmental impact studies and drilling for a resource statement, later in 2021.
The company said that at Olaroz, which is north of Cauchari, Lake’s leases extend over 30 kilometres east and north of the adjoining Orocobre’s Olaroz lithium production leases. LKE said that drilling is anticipated when all planned holes are approved.
Lake said that it would test additional brines from Olaroz and Paso projects to meet objective of producing high purity, sustainable lithium from a number of its 100% owned projects.
Lake’s Managing Director, Steve Promnitz said: “The scale of market demand for a high purity, sustainably produced product is set to overwhelm current supply, as evidenced by the moves by automakers such as Volkswagen and others.
Lake continues to engage with a range of market participants, including large companies seeking to test Cauchari and other brines using their own extraction processes, including converting concentrates into lithium hydroxides and other products.
With a growing supply deficit projected from 2024, Lake sees the need for even greater lithium production and therefore will advance development plans on our other brine projects based on the same production method.
Significantly, should we reach our target, Lake would become a globally significant producer with relevant scale and high-quality products, at exactly the right time for the accelerating EV and battery storage revolution.”