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Lithium producer Sigma Lithium said on Wednesday that a new estimate of its mineral resource site in Brazil had shown lithium deposits were 27% higher than in a previous assessment from a year ago.
Sigma Lithium now says that its Audited NI 43-101 Mineral Resource at its 100%-owned Grota do Cirilo operation at Vale do Jequitinhonha was raised to 109 million tons of measured, indicated, and inferred mineral resource.
Grota do Cirilo now becomes the world’s fourth-largest operating industrial pre-chemical lithium beneficiation complex, fully integrated with 100% wholly-owned spodumene mining operations, Sigma Lithium said in a statement.
The increased resource estimate turns Sigma Lithium “into one of the largest operating integrated producers in the global lithium industry,” said Ana Cabral-Gardner, co-chairperson and chief executive at the Sao Paulo-based lithium miner, which is listed in Brazil and on the NASDAQ.
“The sheer scale of the mineral resource revisions increases Sigma’s strategic flexibility to consider a fourth Greentech industrial pre-chemical beneficiation line, while also contemplating additional industrial integration further downstream into the production of low-cost lithium sulphate chemicals,” Cabral-Gardner added.
Sigma Lithium’s announcement comes at a time when lithium miners globally are reviewing expansion plans for the near future after lithium prices crashed by 80% between January 2023 and January 2024.
Over the past months, slowing growth in electric vehicle sales, including in the top EV market, China, and a market oversupply in battery metals sent lithium prices crashing, prompting lithium miners to pause and scale back expansion projects.
China’s EV sales continued to grow last year but fell short of expectations.
On the other hand, raw material providers, which had rushed to mine lithium in the past two years to meet growing demand, have outproduced the current demand. As a result, lithium prices crashed in one year by over 80% to the lowest level since 2020.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com