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IndMin article – Orocobre lithium production down but average lithium carbonate prices up

by Martim Facada, IndMin. First published: Thursday, 05 April 2018 

Link here to read the original article on the IndMin.com website

Adverse weather and lower evaporation rates reduced Orocobre’s lithium compounds output in the first quarter, but it still achieved higher sales prices.

Argentina-based lithium producer Orocobre has announced a 29% fall in its production of lithium carbonate in January-March 2018, with output down to 2,802 tonnes against the 3,937 tonnes produced in the last quarter of 2017.

A 24% decline in brine evaporation rates year-on-year hampered the brine concentration process. This was a result of reduced hours of sunshine, cloudy conditions and rain, which were said to be the main factors behind the lower production.

But although production was reduced, Orocobre achieved higher prices. It sold 3,052 tonnes of lithium carbonate in the first quarter at an average price of $13,533 per tonne fob, up by 17% compared with the preceding quarter.

Total sales revenue achieved in January-March was $41.3 million.

The contract price of lithium carbonate, min 99% (Li2CO3), technical and industrial grades, was last assessed* by Industrial Minerals on March 28 at $16.00-18.50 per kg on a ddp Europe and US basis.

On the same day, the contract price for lithium carbonate, min 99% (Li2CO3), technical and industrial grades, cif China, Japan and South Korea, was assessed at $16-19 per kg on a ddp Europe and US basis.

Because of the first-quarter fall in production, Orocobre expects to produce 10% less lithium carbonate for the full 2018 financial year than was indicated by the previous guidance of 14,000 tonnes. Further details will be provided in the company’s March quarterly report.

Orocobre produced 11,392 tonnes of lithium carbonate from Olaroz throughout the 2017 calendar year, and 11,892 tonnes in the 2017 financial year from June 2016 to June 2017.

“While I recognize that this change in production guidance is very disappointing, the adverse weather conditions were outside our control,” chief executive officer and managing director Richard Seville said.

“However, recent weather events have confirmed the previously identified need to further improve the robustness of operations and reduce production variability from [the effects of] weather,” he added. “Plans for the Phase 2 expansion already include enhancements to the lithium carbonate processing plant and the potential use of evaporator/crystallizers during adverse weather events, to maintain consistent brine concentration prior to processing in both Phase 1 and Phase 2.”


FT – Toyota Orocobre investment underscores strategic significance of Cadence Minerals #KDNC San Luis development.

January 16th 2018

By Alice Woodhouse FT.com

Link on the FT logo to read the article on the FT website

Toyota Group’s trading arm will take a stake in Australian lithium miner Orocobre for almost A$300m as car manufacturers seek to secure supplies of the critical ingredient for batteries to meet growing electric vehicle demand.

Toyota Tsusho will take a 15 per cent stake in lithium miner Orocobre for A$282m ($224m) to more than double lithium carbonate production capacity at Orocobre’s Argentinian mine Olaroz to 42,500 tonnes per year from 17,500 previously.

Toyota Tsusho said the investment will provide a “long term, stable supply of lithium in response to growing global demand.”

The move by Toyota follows similar investments by Chinese electric carmaker BYD, which formed a joint venture with a Chinese pot ash producer to produce lithium carbonate and China’s Great Wall Motor, which last year took a 3.5 per cent stake in Australia’s Pilbara Minerals to secure a supply of the metal.

Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre are also finalising plans to develop a 10,000 tonne-pear year lithium hydroxide plant in Fukushima, Japan. A decision will be made on the plant in mid-2018, Orocobre said in its statement.

Orocobre shares climbed almost 60 per cent in 2017. Its shares were suspended on Tuesday.

Orocobre is one of several lithium producers stepping up investment in Argentina amid expectations that President Mauricio Macri’s business-friendly agenda will transform Argentina into South America’s top producer of the mineral, ousting neighbouring Chile in five years’ time. A recent Reuters article covers this in more detail here

Toyota’s Orocobre investment further serves to underscore the strategic significance of the recent move by Cadence Minerals #KDNC to acquire up to 100% of six prospective hard rock lithium assets at the San Luis Province, Central Argentina. Full San Luis announcement here


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