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Latin Resources to follow giant Sigma footsteps in Brazil lithium hunt

Updated: Apr 23

Latin Resources managing director Chris Gale, left, joins Sigma Lithium chief executive officer and co-chair Ana Cabral-Gardner, centre, for the launch of Lithium Valley Brazil. Credit: File

Latin Resources managing director Chris Gale is aiming to emulate the success of Sigma Lithium’s Grota do Cirilo project in Brazil in a bid to build the production potential of the company’s Salinas project.

Mr Gale stood alongside Sigma chief executive officer and co-chair Ana Cabral-Gardner this morning as she rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq market site in New York to celebrate the launch of the ground-breaking Lithium Valley Brazil initiative. It is a Brazilian Government-backed collaboration aimed at pursuing a more sustainable source of lithium.

The alliance features four major companies – Sigma, Latin, Atlas Resources and Lithium Ionic – which all have significant projects in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. The initiative is aimed at attracting capital markets and private investments in the lithium battery supply chain, while streamlining the development and construction of projects in the lithium mining and processing industries.

The collaboration also aims to create optimal business conditions to foster significant increases in the production of green lithium, while advancing social development goals, including reducing income inequality at Vale do Jequitinhonha in Minas Gerais.

Investors and capital markets are expected to fund lithium projects, ancillary projects, industry infrastructure and downstream industries. As a result of the capital market-friendly approach, taxpayer money will be directed to social development in similar fashion to models successfully used in Australia.

The WA Government this week delivered a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus, built on the back of mining royalties collected from the State’s wealth of mineral exports including lithium and iron ore.

Lithium Valley Brazil commences with significant relevance in the global lithium industry, anchored by Sigma Lithium, one of the world’s top producers, which is trucking to port the most environmentally and socially sustainable lithium in the world. Sigma Lithium materials are expected to enable the production of 610,000 electric vehicles in the first year and 1.6 million electric vehicles in its second year. Sigma Lithium chief executive officer and co-chair Ana Cabral-Gardner

Sigma is regarded as a regional success story in Brazil after building the resource at Grota de Cirilo from 13.5 million tonnes at 1.56 per cent lithium oxide in 2018, to a massive 106.8 million tonnes grading 1.43 per cent lithium oxide last year. The company began production this year after having its plant built and commissioned in the space of just 14 months.

Speaking to Red Cloud TV at the launch of Lithium Valley Brazil, Mr Gale said he aims to follow in the footsteps of Sigma’s success and expects to begin production at Salinas by 2026.

“To watch Sigma grow - start building their plant in February last year, complete it in February this year, commission it in three months and begin shipping this month, is incredible,” he said.

“There is no other miner on the planet – certainly a lithium miner – that has done it that quick. Latin Resources wants to emulate that. A lot of research reports out there are calling us ‘Sigma 2.0’, which I love and is an honour for us.

“Sigma and Ana have inspired us to get into production and we are very focused on bringing this project into production.”

Sigma Lithium launched the Lithium Valley Brazil initiative at the Nasdaq market site. Credit: File

Latin has punched through 36,130m in 126 diamond drill holes as part of its 65,000m drilling blitz at its Colina deposit that is set to boost the existing mineral resource estimate of 13.3 million tonnes at 1.2 per cent lithium oxide. The explorer currently has eight diamond drill rigs operating around the clock on a super-sized exploration offensive.

Six of the eight rigs are plumbing the depths of the pegmatite swarm at its Colina West prospect, with the company looking to close out the drilling database this month so results can be incorporated into an updated JORC mineral resource, which is pencilled in for June.

The Salinas project is just 50kms north-west of Grota do Cirilo, which started production this month.

Latin’s latest drill results continue to impress with 9m at 2.06 per cent lithium oxide from 221m, 18.2m grading 1.90 per cent from 213m and 15.9m going 1.64 per cent lithium oxide from 290m.

Mr Gale said Latin is also highly-focused on developing a local workforce for its Brazilian operations, including 60 people from the town of Salinas being trained to become geologists and field assistants.

“We want to start construction in 2025 and be in production 2026 – the same pathway as Sigma,” he said.

“Collectively, Sigma and Latin in 2026 will be both producing enormous amounts of spodumene concentrate. Under my estimation we will (collectively) go number three in the world for lithium production in a little over five years which will be a great result.”

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