Lithium Americas has started development planning for phase II expansion at the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in Argentina.

Located in Salar de Olaroz and Salar de Cauchari in the Jujuy province, the project is being developed in joint venture with Ganfeng Lithium.

The project’s phase II aims to add at least 20,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) production capacity.

Construction is currently in progress for the 40,000tpa stage 1 at the Caucharí-Olaroz project.

Lithium Americas plans to achieve first production from the project in mid-2022, with currently more than 1,000 workers on site.

Construction on the second stage of the project is due to begin in the second half of next year with plans to commence production in 2025.

Lithium Americas chairman George Ireland said: “Caucharí-Olaroz is on track to become the largest new lithium brine operation in over 20 years.

“With construction for Stage 1 expected to be complete within the next year, together with Ganfeng Lithium, we are beginning to plan our next phase of growth in Argentina.”

The partners are also planning to add infrastructure at the site to support long-term expansion beyond the second stage.

As per estimates, the Cauchari-Olaroz mine contains brine reserves of 1.1 billion cubic metres, grading 607mg/l lithium.

The project is expected to have 682,920t of lithium metal and 3.6 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent in proven and probable reserves.

Lithium Americas holds a 49% stake in the lithium project, while its Chinese partner has the remaining 51% holding.