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Argentina Lithium Project Pipeline

Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia make up the lithium triangle which are thought to contain roughly half the world’s known lithium. According to the US Geological Survey, Argentina has an estimated 19.3Mt of the world’s 89Mt lithium resources. Bolivia (21Mt), Chile (9.8Mt), and Australia (7.3Mt) round out the top four countries in terms of estimated resources.

It is Argentina though that is set to see major growth in terms of lithium production over the next few years. Argentina, the world’s fourth largest lithium producer, is expected to leapfrog Chile in the short term. It has been able to take advantage of less favorable government policies in Chile and Bolivia to attract a considerable amount of investment over the last few years that is now set to pay off with new projects coming online. 



Operating Projects


  • The project is owned by Arcadium Lithium and started production in 1997.
  • Arcadium Lithium is a recent merger between the Australian Allkem and the American Livent, will have four projects in Argentina, including the expansion of Fénix.
  • The company expanded then initial production to the current 20,000t/y of lithium carbonate. A further expansion will bring production to a total of 60,000t/y by the end of 2025.
  • As of 2023, Livent has 18,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate capacity on site, and 9,000 product metric tons of lithium chloride capacity at Güemes, an offsite plant located a short distance away in Salta Province.
  • The first expansion is expected to be complete in 2024, taking lithium carbonate capacity to roughly 40,000 metric tons. 

Salar de Olaroz

  • Olaroz salt flat in Jujuy province produces after its second expansion 42,500 tonne per annum.
  • Operated by Sales de Jujuy, comprising Orocobre (72.68%) and Toyota Tsusho (27.32%), and state-run Jemse.
  • The company says its cash operating cost of approximately US$3,500 – $4,000/t positions the Company as being one of the lowest cost lithium producers globally.


  • The USD$979m Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project is expected to produce 40,000t of battery-grade lithium carbonate over an estimated operational life of 40 years.
  • The project is 100% owned by Minera Exar, a joint venture between Lithium Americas Corp (44.8%), China-based Ganfeng Lithium (46.7%) and 8.5% by Jujuy province.
  • The JV is also continuing with planning for a Stage 2 expansion of at least 20 000 t/y of lithium carbonate that will come online in 2025.  The company believes that full output will be achieved in early 2024 with production slowly ramping up from now until the end of the year.



Projects in Construction 

Centenario-Ratones Project

  • Eramet will control the project, with a 50.1% interest, and will retain operational management responsibility; its partner Tsingshan will finance the plant construction in exchange of a 49.9% interest in the project.
  • A pilot plant was installed in early 2020, providing a real-world demonstration of the quality of the lithium carbonate product, with a very high level of direct extraction efficiency (90%).
  • The project will use Eramet’s direct lithium extraction technology minimising water,
  • Construction of the lithium plant began in June 2022 with an initial capacity of 24,000t/y of lithium carbonate starting in 2024.
  • A second stage already has an investment approval and is waiting construction permits. It will bring production to 75,000t/y and is expected to be online by 2027.

Sal de Oro

  • Posco started construction of a US$830 million lithium hydroxide plant this year.
  • The plant will produce 23,000t/y of lithium hydroxide – enough to make batteries for 600,000 electric vehicles – starting in 2024.
  • Environmental impact studies that are being carried out to increase the production capacity to 100,000t/y.

Sal de Vida


  • Arcadium Lithium, a company that emerged from the merger between the Australian Allkem and the American Livent, will have four projects in Argentina, including Sal de Vida.
  • The first phase of the project is under construction and will produce 15,000t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent (CLE) from 2025
  • Stage 2 already has completed feasibility studies which will increase output by another 30,000 t/y. The cost is expected to be US$657mn.

What Next for Argentina’s Lithium Industry?

There are over 30 projects at various stages advancing in Argentina. From advanced exploration phase to feasibility phase. Argentina’s current 40,000 mt of lithium carbonate production could triple in the next year based on the current project pipeline. Some analysts believe that Argentina could produce 152,000 tons of lithium carbonate in the next 12 ro 24 months as projects and expansions hit their production targets.

For Argentina, this could mean a new significant income from exports. Desperately needed in a country that is trying to dig itself out of an economic hole. Currently, it is projected that external sales of lithium amounted to US$835 million in 2023, a figure that could multiply to US$8.73 billion in 2030, according to projections from the National Mining Directorate.  In 2022, the main destination for Argentinian lithium exports was China — 41.5% of total sales abroad — followed by Japan at 30.7%, South Korea 12.8% and the US 9%.

Prices have come down from 2022, when they were US$80,000/t to below US$15,000 in February 2023. This is very concerning for the industry as producers are eliminating dividends, idling production, and delaying expansions. Although, Argentina sits in a great position as a low-cost producer due to accessing lithium from brines compared to hard rock.

Analysts have stated that feasibility studies of many Argentinean projects consider a price of US$13,000 per tonne, so at current prices the projects would not be as profitable as originally expected and the recovery of capital would be slower.

Despite short-term volatility, the long-term forecast for lithium remains positive. Lithium is crucial for decarbonization efforts, especially in the EV sector. While low prices have led to supply cuts and delays for some companies, analysts are predicting that prices could bottom out in 2025 and start increasing again after that as the market balances itself out.


Argentina has taken a different approach to developing its lithium industry compared to its neighbours. This has positioned the country as a leading investment destination, potentially putting Chile’s position as the number 2 producer at risk.

There are still challenges for Argentina to overcome.  Capital controls, lack of local suppliers, and lithium prices are the most immediate challenges. In addition, many of the projects are located in Northern Argentina where infrastructure and poor roads are increasing logistical costs.

As more projects come online, there will be more focus on the environmental impact, particularly water consumption. DLE technology is certainly important, but it has not been deployed yet on an industrial scale in Argentina. The reinjection of water is still complex and needs to be better studied.

Pilot plants at some projects demonstrate that DLE can achieve a yield of over 90%, with a processing period of about 24 hours, while the traditional process (natural evaporation in pools) offers less than 50% yield in 18 months. Promising technology if it can be scaled.

While Argentina is looking quite favorably in the short term as new projects already operating or under construction come online, current lithium prices will delay investment decisions for other projects, meaning that further growth could be slower than expected.

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