Argentina Lithium Extraction Demo Plant

Extracting White Gold from Brine, Lithium Extraction Demo Plant

POSCO Holdings has been focusing keenly on ‘lithium’, the future energy resource, since 2010. In 2018, the company invested approximately 300 billion KRW to procure the Hombre Muerto lithium salt lake in Argentina.

The acquired salt lake, under the stewardship of POSCO Holdings, is about a third the size of Seoul, encompassing about 17,500 hectares. Notably, the estimated reserves have seen a six-fold increase from the initial acquisition forecasts, amounting to approximately 13.5 million tons - sufficient to power the production of around 370 million electric vehicles.

The Hombre Muerto salt lake, distinguished by its high lithium concentration and relatively lower impurity levels compared to other Argentine salt lakes, is ideally positioned for producing premium-grade lithium at a global scale. Further enhancing this potential is POSCO Group's proprietary lithium extraction technology, promising to optimize yield and reduce production time significantly.

[Overview of Argentina Hombre Muerto Salt Lake, Photo source = POSCO Holdings]

To ensure a consistent supply of lithium, a critical factor tied directly to the competitiveness of the materials industry, POSCO E&C made significant strides by constructing a Demo Plant in August 2020, which marked the first instance of a domestic company mining and refining lithium.

The Demo Plant, constructed by POSCO E&C, boasts an annual production capacity of 2,500 tons of lithium phosphate. The lithium phosphate thus produced is further processed into lithium hydroxide, a vital component for manufacturing cathode materials - the final element for secondary batteries - at lower process factories under construction near Salta City in Argentina, and in Gwangyang, Korea.

Serving as a scaled-down, trial-run facility preceding the construction of a full-scale commercial production factory, the Demo Plant constructed by POSCO E&C constitutes a critical step in POSCO Group's overarching strategy to commercialize lithium production.

[Overview of Argentina Lithium Extraction Demo Plant, Photo source = POSCO Holdings]
  • Period
    2019.09 - 2020.08
  • Place of order
    Place of order
    POSCO Argentina Corporation
  • Construction details
    Construction details
    - Capacity: Production of 2,500 tons of Lithium Phosphate annually
    - Role: EPC
    - Facilities: Filter Press, Reactor, Raw Material Conveyance Facilities, etc.
  • Location
    Hombre Muerto Salt Flat, Salta, Argentina

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