Lithium Americas and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) are forming a joint venture to develop the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium brine project in Jujuy province, Argentina. The joint venture will go into effect following a capital contribution of $25 million by SQM in exchange for a 50% ownership stake in Minera Exar S.A., the Lithium Americas subsidiary that is developing the project.

SQM and Lithium Americas will initiate an updated definitive feasibility study for Cauchari-Olaroz based on an existing study completed by Minera Exar in 2012. The updated study will evaluate the economic feasibility of a project having production capacity of approximately 40,000 mt/y of lithium carbonate equivalent. Depending on the results of the study, the project may be executed in stages.

Since inception of the Cauchari-Olaroz project in 2009, Lithium Americas has invested more than $80 million in resource exploration and project development, including approximately 10,000 m of drilling, advanced modeling, and testing and pumping wells. The project is fully permitted for immediate construction and development.

SQM CEO Patricio de Solminihac said, “The Salar de Caucharí is a great complement to our existing lithium operations in Chile, and it is located just a few hundred kilometers from the Salar de Atacama. We expect to have similar production processes at both sites, and as a result we should benefit from operating synergies.”