Sigma Lithium secures $100 million for Brazil mine expansion

Sigma Lithium started production this month at its Grota do Cirilo project in Brazil. Credit: Sigma Lithium

Sigma Lithium (TSX-V; NASDAQ: SGML) has secured up to $100 million from shareholder Synergy Capital to build the initial phase of a $155-million expansion at its Grota do Cirilo lithium project in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The Canadian miner said the debt-financing deal extends until August 2023, which gives it enough time to ramp up production at Grota do Cirilo, the largest hard rock lithium deposit in the Americas.

Commissioning of the lithium mine is expected this month, with first shipments beginning in the second quarter of 2023, the company said.

During this first production phase, Grota do Cirilo is expected to generate up to 270,000 tonnes per year of high purity battery grade lithium concentrate, equal to about 36,700 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).

Based on the results of a study to triple battery-grade lithium concentrate production, Sigma said the project has the potential to churn out 768,000 tonnes (104,200 tpa LCE) from the second to the eighth year of operations. 

Such capacity would make Grota do Cirilo fall just outside the world’s top five lithium producers in terms of output capacity after Albemarle, SQM, Ganfeng, Pilbara Minerals and Galaxy. 

Total output will then drop to 491,000 tonnes in years nine to 13, Sigma Lithium said.

The Vancouver-based miner noted that the planned expansion could be achieved by the addition to the Greentech lithium plant of a single larger additional dense media separation module paired with a proportional crushing module. 

Construction of the expansion could potentially be initiated with earthworks and ordering of long lead items in the first quarter of 2023, once a final decision is made.

The increase in mining feedstock for the integrated production boost would be achieved through the construction of second and third-phase mines.

The company’s co-CEO, Ana Cabral-Gardner, believes that Brazil has the potential to become a “green lithium powerhouse”.

Brazil is already a global case study in low carbon mobility powering cars with ethanol, biofuels and natural gas. With Sigma Lithium in the mix, the country now has one of the few companies globally that has proven its ability to produce lithium in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Sigma has been producing environmentally sustainable battery-grade lithium concentrate on a pilot scale since 2018.

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