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Lake Resources announces results of definitive feasibility study for Kachi lithium brine project in Argentina

Australia-based Lake Resources announced the results of its Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for Phase One of the Kachi lithium brine project in Argentina. Kachi uses ion exchange Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE); the process design was developed in partnership with Lilac Solutions.

Project and resource highlights include:

  • Total resource is estimated at 10.6 Mt LCE, a globally significant resource.

  • 25-year mine life supported by maiden Ore Reserve statement.

  • Phase One targets a production of 25 thousand tonnes per annum (ktpa) over the life of mine (LoM) to meet the growing demand and specifications of the battery market.

  • DLE process tailored to mitigate impact on the local community with minimal disruption to land, freshwater table, and water usage.

  • The Project targets production of consistent battery grade lithium carbonate (>99.5% purity) at site without the need for further refining or processing.

Kachi is targeting first lithium in 2027 with ramp-up to full capacity by the end of 2028, which is forecast to coincide with the start of a prolonged period of structural deficit for battery grade lithium chemicals.

The Project features a post-tax NPV of US$2.3 billion and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 21%. Kachi targets battery-grade lithium carbonate revenue of US$21 billion and US$16 billion EBITDA for the 25-year life of mine. Annual average EBITDA is expected to be US$635 million with EBITDA margin of 76%.

Kachi is looking at a US$1.38 billion estimated initial Capex for Phase One.

The project operated two campaigns at the demonstration plant at site from October 2022 to November 2023, processing 5.2 million liters of brine and producing more than 200,000 liters of lithium chloride eluate while also allowing for increased operational experience and optimization of Lilac’s DLE technology.

Additionally, the project has produced in excess of 1,300 kilograms of >99.5% purity lithium carbonate at the Saltworks demonstration facility to ensure that the commercial flowsheet will meet expectations and to have in place product samples for potential offtake parties.

Lilac produces ion exchange beads and delivers these beads to brine projects. The beads are loaded into tanks, brine is flowed through the tanks, and as the brine percolates through the beads, the beads absorb lithium out of the brine. Once the beads are saturated with lithium, hydrochloric acid is used to flush out the lithium, yielding lithium chloride.

Lithium chloride is the standard intermediary in every lithium brine project today. The lithium chloride is then processed on-site with conventional process equipment to yield a finished product. The product—lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide—is sold to battery makers.

Utilizing Lilac’s proprietary ion-exchange DLE technology eliminates the need for upstream or downstream evaporation ponds for lithium concentration, reducing the footprint of a traditional brine evaporation operation by >90%. The demonstration plant vessels, which hold the ion-exchange material, are approximately one-third the size of commercial-scale vessels. This significantly reduces scale-up risk and increases process uptime.

The extraction plant is conservatively designed for 80% lithium recovery within the DLE process and an overall plant recovery of lithium >75%. This is significantly higher than traditional evaporation pond recoveries (40%-60%).

The project is designed to inject the de-lithiated (spent) brine directly back into the salar, minimizing the risk of subsidence and impact to the reservoir in this semi-desert ecology. This would be the first application of brine reinjection in an Argentinian lithium brine project; the extensive project field work in 2023 has demonstrated that this plan can be deployed.

Final Investment Decision (FID) is targeted for Q1 2025.


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