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In a first, IFC to lend US$180 million to develop greenfield lithium operations

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced that it will give a loan of up to $180 million to Alkem Ltd., a leading producer of lithium, for the development of Sal de Vida, a greenfield lithium operation in Catamarca province, Argentina.

Marking IFC's first investment in lithium mining, the offer includes up to $100 million for IFC's own account and up to $30 million in mobilization. An additional US$50 million parallel loan arranged by IFC is expected to close subsequently to complete the total financing package.

"Our investment in Allkem is part of IFC's strategy to develop global supply chains that accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future while creating jobs," said Makhtar Diop, IFC's Managing Director.

"It will strengthen Argentina's position as one of the world's leading lithium producers and help set high sustainability standards for the lithium mining industry."

This marks the first loan by IFC (member of the World Bank) where a greenfield mining project financing has been structured as a green and sustainability-linked loan. The project's sustainability targets include increasing the percentage of women in Sal de Vida's workforce from 10% in 2022 to 26% by 2030 and expanding the use of renewable energy in the production cycle to 50% by 2030.

"We are proud to partner with IFC to ensure long-term safe and sustainable operations, responsible products, and thriving communities," said Allkem's Managing Director and CEO, Martin Perez de Solay.

"We agreed to set up the highest sustainability standards for Sal de Vida, so that it will contribute to the economy of Catamarca via local employment, the development of local supply chains, and community development programs."

The investment will support Allkem's construction and operation of a battery-grade brine lithium plant at Sal de Vida which is located at 4,100 meters above sea level in the Salar del Hombre Muerto, Catamarca. The project is expected to produce 15,000 tons per annum of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in its first stage.

Lithium is a critical battery metal required to power the transition to clean energy and electric mobility.

Sal de Vida is located within the Lithium Triangle, a region in the Andes spanning the borders of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, and has roughly 60% of the world's identified lithium metal resources in near‐surface brines. Argentina alone accounts for 35% of the global lithium resources and ranks third globally in proven reserves. 

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Chile releases National Strategy For Lithium; plans to nationalize the industry -  

Chile's President, Gabriel Boric recently announced the government's National Lithium Strategy asserting that the State will be present throughout the lithium production cycle and will seek to promote scientific and technological development within the industry.
Author : Shraddha Kakade
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