Orocobre Limited is pleased to announce the commissioning of the first production wells and the commencement of the filling of the first evaporation pond at the Olaoroz lithium project.
The first pumping and filling of evaporation pond 4B occurred at the beginning of August to coincide with the local customary celebration of Pachamama (Mother Earth). This was four weeks earlier than scheduled. Additional bores have been commissioned and pumping has been increased to 30% of design rate and is scheduled to achieve the full rate by November.
The filling of evaporation pond 4B is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, the commencement of the brine filling is ahead of schedule. Secondly, this effectively signals the beginning of the first step in the process of manufacture of lithium carbonate. Finally, it signals the end of a period where there were a high number of concurrent activities in progress and also where we reached the peak headcount on site.
The project continues to proceed on time and within budget. A total of US$121m has been spent or committed via executed contracts in the construction project to date.
A summary of the recent and current activities on site is listed below with some images capturing the recent journey.
The following tasks are currently in progress and at varying stages of completion:
- Foundations and metal structure fabrication for process plant buildings, soda ash warehouse, finished product warehouse and maintenance facilities
- Construction of warehouse and maintenance workshop building
- Groundwork and concrete foundations of water treatment plant
- Waste water treatment plant 2nd stage
- Drilling of the remaining 6 brine wells
- Installation of deep well pumps
- Civil works in the brine collection area
- Evaporation pond construction (conclusion of pond P1, P2, P3)
- Erection of liming plant structure and equipment
- Water plant tank construction
- Gas pipeline construction
- Erection of final modules for the camp
- Camp infrastructure construction (erection and connection of bulk gas tanks)
- Overflow channel construction
- Construction of process buildings (main building, soda ash and end product storage)
- Liner installation of second evaporation pond
- Construction of reinforced earth gabions for transfer pumps foundation
- Construction of overhead power lines
The Company continues to follow the “Jujuy First” strategy to successfully work with suppliers and the employment bureau to focus on the hiring of local people from the communities of Olaroz, Huancar, Puesto Sey, Pastos Chicos, Catua, Susques, Jama, El Toro, Coranzulí, San Juan and Abrapampa. The Company recently sponsored the Olaroz Chico student graduation trip to Salta and Jujuy cities.
The project implementation is through EPCM (Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management) with a high proportion of local involvement through construction and supply contracts and local employment. The unique community and shared value policy continue to be a key success factor, training local people under the supervision of high quality experienced professionals.
The Olaroz lithium project is being developed by Orocobre (66.5%) with partners Toyota Tsusho Corporation (“TTC”) (25%) and the Jujuy Province mining and energy company, JEMSE (8.5%) with a construction budget of US$229m including contingency. First production is scheduled for the end of the second quarter, 2014.