Orocobre 2018 lithium production unchanged vs last year on rainfall disruption

Lithium producer Orocobre Ltd blamed higher-than-normal rainfall in Jujuy Province, northwest Argentina, for keeping production at its Olaroz lithium facility for the 2018 financial year ending June 30, 2019, unchanged year on year.

Rainfall caused lower production due to the dilution of the brine feedstock, Orocobre said on Tuesday February 19. The company added there were no material production stoppages or disruption in the import of material supplies or export of finished product.

Orocobre produced 12,470 tonnes of lithium carbonate in the 2018 financial year, compared with 11,862 tonnes of lithium carbonate in the 2017 financial year and 6,903 tonnes in the financial year ended in June 2016.

Orocobre’s production is short of the 14,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate it had expected for the financial year of 2018, but the company has been ramping up production year on year since 2016.

Orocobre will start the second stage of expansion at Olaroz in the second half of 2020, aiming to ramp up production to 17,000 tonnes per year of battery-grade lithium carbonate and 15,500 tpy of technical-industrial grade lithium carbonate.

Adverse weather conditions are familiar to Orocobre who in early April 2018 reported a 24% decline in brine evaporation rates year on year.

Rainfall in northwest Argentina also affected production by Livent Corp, a lithium producer with production facilities in Salar del Hombre Muerto.