Chile regulator says SQM compliance plan adequate, appeals lower court decision

Chile's environmental regulator on Wednesday defended in court its approval of a plan by top lithium miner SQM to remediate damage to the Atacama salt flat, appealing a lower court decision to scrap the agreement and setting the stage for a new and prolonged legal battle. Chile's Environmental Superintendent (SMA) blessed SQM's $25-million compliance plan in 2019 after a multi-year investigation that found SQM had over-drawn lithium-rich brine from the salt flat. But a local environmental court in Antofagasta in December invalidated the plan, calling it "insufficient".

EcoGraf creeps towards EPC contract

ASX-listed EcoGraf has inked a letter of intent with services provider GR Engineering Services for an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the development of a 20 000 t/y battery graphite facility, in Western Australia. EcoGraf, previously known as Kibaran Resources, will spend an initial $22.8-million to develop a 5 000 t/y operation, followed by a further $49.2-million to expand production to 20 000 t/y of battery graphite.

Sayona welcomes US investor

Lithium hopeful Sayona Mining has secured A$2.75-million in funding from US investor Obsidian Global GP. The funding will include an initial A$1-million tranche of convertible notes, with the notes priced at $1 each, and having a face value of $1.10 each. The notes will not accrue any interest, and will have a 12-month maturity date.

ESG stamp may help slash funding costs, lithium producer says

Complying with environmental, social and governance standards could mean significant savings when it comes to financing projects related to lithium, a key component of electric car batteries. That’s because companies adhering to those measures can attract commercial banks looking to provide funding for ESG-aligned projects instead of relying on private lenders or specialty credit mining funds, said Ana Cabral-Gardner, chief strategy officer at Sigma Lithium Resources, a Canada-listed mineral exploration firm that has operations in Brazil.

Argosy gets environmental approval for Argentina lithium project

ASX-listed Argosy Minerals has been granted approval for the development of the next stage of work at its Rincon lithium project, in Argentina. The government of Salta Province, and its regulatory bodies, have approved Argosy’s environmental impact report (EIR) for the development of a 2 000 t/y lithium process plant and subsequent lithium production operations at Rincon, along with all associated work.

Galaxy reaches production targets

Lithium miner Galaxy Resources on Thursday flagged the production of 43 222 t of lithium concentrate at its Mt Cattlin operation, in Western Australia, during the three months to December. The production achieved was at the higher end of the guidance of between 35 000 t and 45 000 t, the miner said.

Ioneer says green deal will have ‘no impact’

Lithium hopeful Ioneer on Wednesday told shareholders that its agreement with US greens group the Center for Biological Diversity would have "no impact" on the ongoing activities at its Rhyolite Ridge lithium/boron project, in Nevada. Mining Weekly Online earlier this week reported that the ASX-listed company had struck a deal with the Center, agreeing to notify the conservationist group of any additional mining or exploration plans at the site, or any plans to build the mine.

Ioneer strikes deal with US greens group

ASX-listed lithium developer Ioneer has reportedly struck an agreement with US-based conservationist group the Center for Biological Diversity that would see the miner cease new activities at its planned lithium mine, in Nevada. The agreement would see the Center for Biological Diversity drop a lawsuit against the US government to challenge exploration permits awarded to Ioneer, in a bid to protect the world’s only population of the wildflower Tiehm’s buckwheat.

Portugal delays lithium tender for third time, aims for early 2020

Portugal has delayed an international licensing tender for lithium exploration for the third time, with the government aiming to launch it in early 2020, despite strong objections from environmental groups. Initially expected to take place by the end of 2018, the tender was delayed until June and then until the end of this year and is now likely to happen in the first three months of 2020, the Environment Minister said on Saturday.

Chilean lithium miner SQM dealt blow by environmental court ruling

Chilean environmental court has upheld a complaint by indigenous communities in the country´s northern Atacama Desert about the use of water by SQM, the world´s No. 2 producer of lithium. The decision by the First Environmental Court in the nearby city of Antofagasta calls into jeopardy SQM´s $400-million plan to expand its lithium carbonate production plant to feed appetite for the ultralight battery metal.