Lithium Americas Corp. provided an update for the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project («Cauchari-Olaroz») in Jujuy province.
Minera Exar S.A., a 50/50 joint venture company between Lithium Americas and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. («SQM»), continues to advance the Cauchari-Olaroz project as planned. As previously announced, Minera Exar is pursuing a development plan at Cauchari-Olaroz that targets 50,000 tonnes per annum («tpa») of lithium carbonate production capacity in two stages, with each stage consisting of 25,000 tpa of lithium carbonate. A feasibility study («Stage 1 DFS») on the first stage of 25,000 tpa of lithium carbonate production capacity («Stage 1») is nearing completion.
The qualified persons («QPs») responsible for preparing the Stage 1 DFS have completed substantially all capital cost development analysis for Stage 1, with remaining work related primarily to confirming SQM’s operating cost estimates to a NI 43-101 compliant feasibility study standard. The Company and the QPs can confirm at this time the following:
The project capital cost estimate for the construction of Stage 1 is expected to be US$420 – US$430 million before value-added and other applicable taxes and working capital;
The operating cost estimate will be at the low end of the cost curve compared to producing lithium operations;
The parties expect to be in a position to commence construction in the first half of 2017;
The current construction schedule is estimated at two years with production forecast to start in 2019;
During the construction period, Minera Exar’s direct employment in the province of Jujuy is estimated to be at least 800 people; once in operation, Minera Exar is expected to employ approximately 300 people in permanent positions.
Lithium Americas will be responsible for contributing 50% of capital expenditures for the construction of Stage 1, amounting to approximately US$210 – US$215 million before Taxes and working capital.