BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – South Korean steelmaker Posco said on Monday it will invest $4 billion in a new lithium mining project in Argentina, as the company seeks to tap into soaring demand for the key rechargeable battery metal.
The announcement came right after the company met with local government officials.
The funds will be invested in a project at a salt flat called Salar de Hombre Muerto, located in the border between the northern Salta and Catamarca provinces.
Posco expects to initially produce 25,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, an especially high-demand lithium product for battery makers, there per year, reaching 100,000 tonnes once the venture is completed.
Export value from the project is seen totaling $260 million per year over the next 30 years, according to a statement from President Alberto Fernandez’s office.
A spokesman for Posco confirmed the figures in a statement to Reuters.
Argentina is part of the so-called “lithium triangle,” which also includes neighbors Bolivia and Chile, home to one of the world’s largest lithium reserves.
Posco was initially expected to invest $830 million in the venture, but changes in the original project led it to increase the amount, according to Salta’s mining department.
(Reporting by Agustin Geist; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)