Argentina lithium projects seek financing as production seen tripling – by Juliana Castilla (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2017)

BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s lithium carbonate production will triple by 2019, and could grow by even more if companies find financing for various projects they are prepared to launch, industry executives and a government official told Reuters.

Demand for lithium – a crucial material in electric car batteries and mobile phones – is soaring worldwide, prompting miners to lock up new sources of supply. Argentina is already the world’s third largest producer, and forms part of the so-called lithium triangle with Bolivia and Chile that accounts for half the world’s reserves.

Center-right President Mauricio Macri has implemented a number of pro-market reforms in Latin America’s third-largest economy since taking office in December 2015, making Argentina a natural choice for miners looking to boost output.

“Certainly, the world is focusing on Argentina,” said John Kanellistas, president of Canadian miner Lithium Americas, which last month partnered with China’s Ganfeng Lithium to build a 25,000 tonne-per-year processing plant to open by mid 2019 that would handle 85 percent of Argentina’s current output of 29,000 tonnes per year.

Argentina represents 15 percent of total world production of 200,000 tonnes. Global output is expected to reach 400,000-500,000 tonnes by 2025, spurred by the growth of electric cars.

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