Canadian miner Sigma Lithium has more than doubled its target production rate at its Brazilian lithium mine, set to begin production in December, valuing the mine at $5.1-billion, co-chief executive Ana Cabral told Reuters on Thursday.
Cabral said the mine will begin operations with a target of 37 000 t of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), but which should rise to 72 000 t of LCE once the mine is fully built.
The company's previous target, Cabral said, was only 34 000 t of LCE.
Cabral said in a telephone interview the rise in production target was due to a new feasibility study that will allow the expansion of its Grota do Cirilo mine, and due to higher anticipated recovery rates.
"I've doubled (production targets), but also I have increased efficiency, which is the mandate of every current producer now," Cabral said.
Lithium prices have skyrocketed this year as automakers and governments scramble to find supplies of the ultralight battery metal. While South America is known for its so-called lithium triangle - Chile, Argentina and Bolivia - Sigma's operations will add Brazil as a significant producer of the metal.
Worldwide supply of lithium is expected to hit 600 000 t of LCE this year, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.