Eramine Sudamerica is gearing up to inaugurate its first lithium carbonate plant in the northern Argentine province of Salta by July 2024.

This strategic move is set to establish the company as Argentina’s fourth producer of lithium, a critical component in battery technology, according to a Reuters report posted on the Economic Times.

The facility is located on the Centenario Ratones salt flat approximately 1,400km north-west of Buenos Aires at an altitude of 4,000m.

Eramine Sudamerica’s sustainability director Constanza Cintioni told the news agency that the plant is expected to produce around 3,000t of lithium carbonate this year, with plans to increase production to approximately 24,000t by 2025.

Cintioni explained that the output from the plant will be exported and have an expected useful lifespan of four decades.

She also disclosed an estimated total investment of $800m (704.57bn pesos) for the project, with intentions to establish a second similar facility in the same basin at a future date.

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The Eramine Sudamerica plant will employ a direct extraction method for lithium, differing from other projects that typically use brine evaporation from pools.

This innovative approach comes at a time when lithium, essential for mobile phone and EV batteries, has experienced a price surge following a plunge in 2023, largely due to a slowdown in EV sales in China, according to the news agency.

The establishment of the lithium carbonate plant in Salta is a key development under the administration of President Javier Milei, who is focused on enhancing foreign reserves through exports in mining, energy and grains to combat the nation’s severe economic crisis and high inflation rates.

This new plant is the first lithium carbonate facility in Salta and adds to the three existing lithium production facilities in Argentina.

Industry sources have estimated that the country’s lithium exports saw a 20% increase last year.