U.A.E. company to invest $550M into Rio Grande Sur project in Argentina

May. 17, 2024

4 years

U.A.E. engineering company United Mining Projects Corporation (“UMPC”) has announced plans to invest $550M into the development of the Rio Grande Sur brine project in the Catamarca province, Argentina.

The announcement follows two years of negotiations between the Catamarca government.

The investment will take place over 4 years to 2028, presumably when production is set to commence.

Adamas take:

The salars of Argentina rank among the world’s accessible known reserves that are “open for business” owing to the countries geopolitically neutrality. In this context, it is not unsurprising to see investment from industry outsiders.

UMPC’s rather obscure investment supports the notion that lithium is abundant and is simply capital constrained. This may be true for untapped high-grade brine or hard rock reserves amenable to conventional processing methods, but in the context of low-grade continental brines (like at Rio Grande), there are steep learning curves to navigate in the art of direct lithium extraction.

Resource delineation and process piloting can alone take several years and hundreds of millions of dollars in demonstration costs, as evidenced by Eramet/Tsingshan’s Centenario or Rio Tinto’s Rincon projects.

By our estimates, using regional average DLE capital intensities, the $550M investment represents in a best-case scenario a 14 kt LCE plant, processing ~350 mg/L Li grade brines.

[Extract from the May issue of the EV Battery Lithium Monthly service.]



Chris Williams, Analyst at Adamas Intelligence

Chris is an Analyst at Adamas Intelligence focused on the global lithium industry. He researches and analyzes the lithium value chain to uncover actionable opportunities for clients.

Chris has 11-years experience in mining and oil & gas operations optimization, delivering value from data intensive insight generation. He completed his Bachelor and Masters of Engineering at the University of Queensland, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration at the University of British Columbia.



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