ㅣCEO Jeong-Woo Choi inspects the ongoing construction of a demonstration plant that extracts lithium, POSCO Group’s core growth engine
ㅣSafety the company’s top priority, the CEO emphasizes
ㅣThe interim survey of the salt lake reveals: 25,000 tons of lithium can be produced annually for over 50 years
On October 19, POSCO CEO Jeong-Woo Choi visited the construction site of a lithium demonstration plant at Hombre Muerto Salt Lake in northwest Argentina, the core of POSCO Group’s new growth engine.
The CEO offered encouraging remarks for the field employees and called for safety at the construction site.
CEO Choi recognized the hard work that went into the exploration and noted the significance of the project as the company steps up in preparation for the next 50 years. In addressing safety as the company’s top priority, he said, “Here, 4,000 meters high in the Andes where the oxygen is sparse and sandstorm is strong, we are faced with major challenges. We must remember safety must come before anything — and we need to look out for each other.”
CEO Choi continued with a message on corporate citizenship by emphasizing the importance of partnership based on mutual trust. He encouraged consistent communication with all stakeholders, including local communities.
After a thorough investigation of the Argentine salt lakes, POSCO confirmed that the on-site production capacity and the lithium reserves far exceeded those initially expected. The original assessment of the per-year production capacity was 25,000 tonnes annually for 20 years. The recent inspection, however, revealed the company could produce the material for the next 50 years, 30 years up from the previous evaluation.
POSCO will continue the exploration until later 2020. Additional reserves are likely, and the company also expects a capacity boost in production at the commercialization stage.
In August last year, POSCO signed a $280-million contract with Galaxy Resources Limited, a global lithium company based in Australia, to acquire 17,500 ha of Argentine salt lakes. In February this year, POSCO finalized the takeover — with this new buyout, POSCO’s mining rights went up to 22,800 ha, which is about 67 times the size of New York Central Park.
In 2018, POSCO signed a long-term contract with an emerging lithium producer Pilbara Minerals in Australia to purchase lithium concentrate, the annual production capacity from which is projected at 40,000 tons. In addition to the salt lakes in Argentina, the new purchase finally secured POSCO’s much-needed lithium supply.