Company Focus: Orocobre Lithium

Jul 18, 2021 | MINING

OROCOBRE LIMITED: Lithium Exploration, Production, and Development for Global Markets

Orocobre Limited is an Australian company based in Brisbane, Australia, that develops and explores lithium, potash, and salar mineral properties primarily in Argentina. Orocobre produces high-grade lithium chemicals for global battery markets and technical applications from its operating plant in Olavarria, Buenos Aires Province.

Orocobre Lithium

A Short History of Orocobre

Orocobre has been in operation for over 30 years and provides Lithium, Potash, and Boron products to global markets. It produces high-grade, high-value lithium chemicals for global battery & technical markets which are produced from their large salt flats basin located near the town of Hombre Muerto in Jujuy Province. Orocobre is building a substantial Argentine-based industrial chemicals company through its portfolio of lithium assets. These products can be used to manufacture rechargeable batteries or as an additive to increase strength or improve performance. The company’s present focus is on lithium and borax mining operations within Argentina

The company was founded on November 27th, 2013 by Simon Anthony Mountstephen-Davis who serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Orocobre Limited.

STRENGTHS

  • Since 2007 Orocobre Ltd. is registered at the Australian Securities Exchange ASX and defines itself as the only listed ASX company with high-value lithium resources.
  • The Company is still conducting exploration on its properties and also has a strong focus on partnerships with other companies to increase the company’s overall value proposition for shareholders.
  • Operations take place in two geographies: Argentina, where it exploits lithium resources from the salars of Atacama, and Chile.
  • The company has demonstrated its technical capability with the launch of two new pilot plants which are now producing lithium chemicals and are named “Soda Plant” and “Lithium Chloride Plant”.
  • There is also a subsidiary named Lithium Americas which was set to commence production in 2020 at the site of its Salar de Olaroz lithium deposit near Salta in Argentina. The project includes both mining and a pilot plant for extracting lithium.
  • Orocobre also produced potash from exploration properties it owns and has interests in during 2017 and 2018.
  • The company is building a substantial Argentine-based industrial chemicals company through its portfolio of lithium, potash, and boron assets.
  • With an in-depth understanding of Argentina’s mining industry and extensive experience managing complex engineering projects within tough operating environments, it is well-positioned to become a major player and a competitor in the place holding up to valuable yields and attractive investment.
  • Orocobre engages with numerous corporate social responsibility ventures with the local communities, business partners, and employees across its operations in Argentina.

CHALLENGES

  • The company has been exploring lithium in Argentina since 1992 with limited success to date but continues to explore vigorously.
  • The company faces stiff competition from Chinese companies which are lowering lithium prices and threatening to dominate the market.
  • Orocobre Limited has seen a decline in profits for several years, with its 2017 annual report showing losses of $21 million. 
  • The Company’s share price reflects this trend as well, having fallen from over US shares that bring statistics showing that the company has a market capitalization of US billion.
  • The company is also struggling to maintain its cash flows and liquidity, which has led it to use debt facilities in order to finance the exploration for lithium-ion reserves.
  • Orocobre Limited’s share price reflects this trend as well, having fallen from over $US0.50 per annum.

STRATEGIC PROJECTS

Olaroz Lithium Project

It is also known as ‘Salar de Olaroz’ because as it was set on the salt lake that has the same name, in the Province of Jujuy in northwestern Argentina, close to the Chilean border. The company formed a joint venture on this project with  Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC).

Borax Argentina

Orocobre acquired Borax Argentina, a long-established project in the boron focus, to add it as a complement to its lithium results. Borax Argentina owns one of only a few potentially important borate deposits globally that are in production, with the involvement of Rio Tinto PLC.

Currently, Borax Argentina’s operations produce a variety of boron chemical products, including boric acid, borax decahydrate, borax pentahydrate, anhydrous borax, and boron glass from concentrates and ulexite minerals carted from the mines and concentrators. In addition, the mine and concentrator at Sijes produce mineral concentrates for direct sale.

Cauchari project

It is also known as the ‘lithium-potash project’ owned by South American Salar Minerals Pty Ltd. Cauchari project has similar geochemical characteristics which refer to the lithium-borate association. It provides a brine source for future expansions of the planned Olaroz production facility at relatively low incremental capital cost, as it is located immediately to the south of the Olaroz Project.

Puna de Atacama Lithium Project (PALP)

Orocobre Limited has established an extensive portfolio of high-grade deposits in Argentina with significant potential to create long-term value. These include the Puna de Atacama Lithium Project (PALP), the high-grade lithium carbonate of which was found in a large, contiguous block with significant exploration potential; and the Cauchari Project, located in Northern Argentina.

Salinas Grandes

This project was based on the discovery of highly concentrated levels of lithium and potassium over an area of the nucleus covering approximately 60 square kilometers at Salinas Grandes by South American Salars. An independent hydrogeological assessment for Salinas Grandes was announced by Orocobre in 2012.

Guayatoyoc

It is a project based on the discovery of a high-grade Potassium discovery in the Puna Region of Northwest Argentina. It was combined in close proximity to the Olaroz operation to account for potential factors in Orocobre’s economic interest in the Guayatoyoc Project.

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