Canadian mining company Sigma Lithium Resources has received the necessary water permits from Brazil’s federal government water agency for the construction of its lithium concentration production plant.

The Agência Nacional de Águas has officially approved the Sigma’s water usage licence, which the company plans to use to pump up to 150 cubic metres per hour of water from the Jequitinhonha River to the lithium concentration plant.

The licence is valid for a period of ten years.

Sigma Lithium Resources CEO Calvyn Gardner said: “The water licence is a significant step for Sigma, as it is one of the final governmental authorisations necessary for Sigma to become fully licensed environmentally for the construction phase of the project.”

Initially, the plant is expected to process 1.5 million tonnes of spodumene annually, based on the initial design being considered under the ongoing feasibility study, which is set to be finalised by the beginning of April this year.

Approximately 90% of the water consumed in the production process will be recirculated by the plant for lithium spodumene concentrate.

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By GlobalData

As a result, the licence received is enough for Sigma to double the capacity of the lithium plant to process three million metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate every year to an expected 440,000t.

Additionally, Sigma has significantly advanced the environmental permitting process for the construction and installation of its lithium concentration plant.

“The water licence is a significant step for Sigma.”

Construction works on the plant are expected to start by the end of June.

Sigma Lithium Resources Brazilian subsidiary president Itamar Resende said: “The company’s operations are powered by hydro-electricity, a renewable energy source.”

In November 2018, Sigma signed a term sheet for an offtake agreement, pursuant to which Mitsui will provide a $30m pre-payment facility for a portion of the funding required to advance the construction of the former’s commercial production plant.