Millennial Lithium Corp (CVE:ML) (OTCQB:MLNLF) is making good progress at the Pastos Grandes project in Argentina and expects to start treating brine at its pilot plant in December this year to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.
In a wide-ranging update on Thursday, the company revealed current work at the site in Salta province, included ongoing liming and feeding of brine to pilot ponds, the building of the pilot plant and an additional long-term pumping well test.
It is aimed that the pilot operation will produce around 3 tonnes per month of battery grade lithium carbonate and includes a final purification stage to ensure consistent production.
"We are very pleased with the progress to date at our Pastos Grandes project, noted Farhad Abasov, Millennial's president and CEO, in a statement.
"The commissioning of the pilot plant facility will be an important milestone for the Company as we will produce battery grade lithium carbonate by basically duplication of the commercial design for the company's 24,000 tonne per year lithium carbonate plant outlined in the feasibility study."
Abasov added that he was also encouraged by progress in the group's application for fiscal stability protection, meaning it was confident in government support for the project for the next three decades.
Notably, he said the firm was also "actively advancing financing, offtake and other strategic talks with large industry players".
The liming plant is now fully operational and treating up to 100 square metres of brine per day, which then goes to a large holding pond for concentration of the lithium.
To support the previous feasibility study, a long-term, constant rate pumping test of 15 days was completed at one well at the project and the results, along with 2017 testwork, support the previous assumptions that large flow rates are possible in this part of Pastos Grandes.
Millennial also confirmed in today's statement that it was covered under the benefits of fiscal stability under national law, which fixes the maximum overall tax rates and brings additional benefits for Millennial for 30 years.
"Millennial originally applied for fiscal stability in Q4 2018; meetings this week with the mining secretary and his deputies indicate final approval has been granted, with the delivery of the final signed resolution in early Q4 2019," the company said in the statement.
A feasibility study for the project has envisaged production of 24,000 tonnes per year (TPY) of battery-grade lithium carbonate - over 99.5% lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) - and puts the total initial capital expenditure required at US$448.2 million, including direct and indirect costs.
The study is based on an operation using proven solar evaporation technology and conventional lithium brine processing and it puts the projected mine life at 40 years.
The net present value (NPV) was put at US$1,030 million after-tax at an 8% discount rate and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 24.2%.
Shares nudged up 0.66% in Toronto in early deals to stand at C$1.52 each.
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