POSCO chairman Choi Jeong-woo visited the construction site of a lithium extraction demonstration plant at Hombre Muerto Salt Lake in northwest Argentina on Oct. 19.
The Argentine salt lake where extraction work is being carried out now has been found to have more lithium reserves and brine than estimated at the time of POSCO’s acquisition. The salt lake can produce 25,000 tons of lithium hydroxide annually for more than 50 years, 30 years more than the initial estimate of 20 years.
POSCO signed a contract to acquire 17,500 ha of the Argentine salt lake from Australia's Galaxy Resources for US$280 million (approximately 330 billion won) in August last year, and completed the acquisition of its mining right in February. Later, by acquiring additional mines in its vicinity, POSCO's mining area expanded to 22,800 ha, about 27 times the size of the Yeouido area of Seoul.
In 2018, POSCO decided to purchase lithium concentrates that can be processed into 40,000 tons of lithium per year from Australia's Palbara Minerals and additionally secured lithium raw materials through the Argentine salt lake this year. Therefore, POSCO has completely solved its lithium supply problem.
POSCO plans to complete the Argentine lithium extraction demonstration plant in the first half of 2020 and expand its production capacity to 25,000 tons per year. It is determined to foster its lithium business as a future growth engine.