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Argentina’s Lithium Market Flourishes: 4 Pioneering Companies to Watch Amid Chile’s State Control Shift

Chile’s recent decision to take state control of significant lithium projects has raised concerns among mining executives and analysts. The move, aimed at developing the country’s vast lithium resources, is expected to make Chile less attractive as an investment destination, benefiting other lithium-rich countries like Australia, Argentina, and several African nations. As the world’s second-largest lithium producer faces uncertainty, investors are looking for alternative opportunities in lithium stocks with promising projects in Argentina.

“If it was my money, I would go and explore Argentina, Brazil and Africa. You’ll get ripped off in Chile.”

Daniel Jiménez 

Argentina has emerged as a popular investment destination for lithium production due to its devolved model, under which project approval is granted by mining-friendly provincial governments. In addition, the swift issuance of permits in the country has caught the attention of investors, including those from China.

In the following sections, we will present a selection of the very few stocks with advanced lithium projects in Argentina, which are poised to benefit from the changing landscape in the lithium industry. All the projects presented have at least published a JORC/NI 43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). 

Market Cap: US$483 million
Flagship Project: Rincon Lithium Project (75%)
Completed Technical Study: PEA (2018)

Argosy Minerals Limited (ASX: AGY), an Australian company, focuses on the development of its production ready Rincon Lithium Project in Salta Province, Argentina, and the Tonopah Lithium Project in Nevada, USA. Argosy aims to become a sustainable lithium production company by leveraging the growth of the lithium-ion battery sector, with its fast-track development strategy targeting commercial lithium carbonate production.

On May 1, 2023, Argosy reported that the commissioning and ramp-up works for the Rincon Lithium Project were progressing, with the 2,000tpa operation nearing continuous production works. During this phase, the project has produced approximately 13.5 tonnes of battery-quality lithium carbonate with an average product quality of 99.79%. The company has validated its chemical process technology, confirming its ability to produce battery-quality lithium carbonate at a commercial scale. Argosy is targeting continuous production operations by the end of Q2-CY2023, and aims to capitalize on the lucrative lithium carbonate market, leading to significant near-term growth for the company.

Click here to see the latest news release from Argosy?

Market Cap: US$618 million
Flagship Project: Kachi (80%)
Completed Technical Study: PFS (2020)

Lake Resources NL (ASX: LKE, OTC: LLKKF) is a clean lithium developer that utilizes state-of-the-art ion exchange extraction technology to produce sustainable, high-purity lithium from its flagship Kachi Project in Catamarca Province, Argentina. This technology addresses the growing demand for high-purity battery materials with minimal environmental impact and significant ESG benefits. The company owns three other projects spanning 220,000 hectares within Argentina’s Lithium Triangle.

On April 17, 2023, Lake Resources and its technology partner, Lilac Solutions, announced the production of 2,500 kg of lithium carbonate equivalents (LCE) at Project Kachi, marking a major milestone for the lithium pilot plant. As a result, Lilac increased its ownership of the Kachi Project from 10% to 20%. The project is set to transition from its pilot phase to commercial-scale development, becoming the first lithium brine project in South America to produce lithium at commercial scale without using evaporation ponds. The success of the Kachi Project demonstrates the potential of ion exchange technology for lithium production, offering faster commissioning, higher lithium recoveries, improved water efficiency, and product purity.

Market Cap: US$245 million
Flagship Projects: HMW (100%) Candelas (100%)
Completed Technical Study: PEA (2021)

Galan Lithium Limited (ASX: GLN) is an ASX-listed lithium exploration and development company with two flagship lithium brine projects, HMW and Candelas, located in the Hombre Muerto salar in Argentina, within South America’s “lithium triangle.” The Hombre Muerto salar is known for its high-grade and low-impurity lithium brine resources. In addition to the projects in Argentina, Galan is also exploring the Greenbushes South Lithium Project in Western Australia, near the Tier 1 Greenbushes Lithium Mine. The company is committed to advancing these projects to meet the growing demand for lithium in the battery sector.

On May 1, 2023, Galan announced an increase in the JORC-reported Mineral Resource estimate for the Hombre Muerto West (HMW) Project, taking the total resource to 6.6Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at an average grade of 880mg/l Li. This marks the third significant resource upgrade since March 2020, and together with the Candelas project, Galan now has a combined resource of 7.3Mt LCE @ 852 mg/l Li, making it one of the highest-grade lithium resources in Argentina. The company aims to utilize these resources to achieve its four-stage long-term production target of up to 60,000 tonne per annum LCE, positioning itself to capitalize on the growing lithium market.

Market Cap: US$48 million
Flagship Project: Hombre Muerto North (100%)
Completed Technical Study: PEA (2019)

Lithium South Development Corporation (TSX.V: LIS) is primarily focused on advancing the Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project in Salta Province, Argentina. The HMN Li Project lies in close proximity to Livent Corporation’s long-standing operation, as well as other major lithium developments, such as the $4 billion project by POSCO and the Sal de Vida Project by Allkem. Back in 2018, Lithium South delineated a NI 43-101 Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE) resource on the Tramo claim block, one of the five non-contiguous blocks that constitute the HMN Li Project. In addition to the existing LCE resource, the company has identified new lithium zones through recent drilling efforts on the Alba Sabrina and Natalia Maria claim blocks. These discoveries could potentially lead to defining a larger LCE resource.

On April 6, 2023, the company announced promising results from the Natalia Maria claim block at the HMN Li Project. The exploration core hole NM01 showcased high-grade lithium results, with an average lithium grade of 1176 mg/L Li and a low magnesium to lithium ratio of 2.66. Lithium South also completed an additional shallow monitoring well at Natalia Maria, which will be utilized for hydraulic testing to provide preliminary insight into the area’s permeability and to help estimate future well flow rates.

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