Borax Argentina Click here to view Borax Argentina website

Orocobre acquired Borax Argentina S.A. (“Borax Argentina”), a long established Argentine boron (or borate) minerals and refined chemicals producer, in August 2012 from Rio Tinto PLC. Borax Argentina owns one of only a few important borate deposits globally that are in production.

Borax Argentina operates three open pit mines in Tincalayu, Sijes, and Porvenir, a borax decahydrate manufacturing plant in Tincalayu, concentration plants in Sijes and Porvenir (currently unused), and refinery facilities in Campo Quijano. Additionally, the considerable deposits at Diablillos and Ratones are essentially undeveloped. With the exception of the Porvenir mine which is located in Jujuy Province, all of Borax Argentina’s operations are located in Salta Province in northern Argentina.

Borax Argentina Location Map

Resource & Operations

The refinery operations at Campo Quijano, near Salta, are comprised of a boric acid plant and three glass furnaces. Currently, these operations produce a variety of boron chemical products including boric acid, borax pentahydrate, anhydrous borax and boroglas from concentrates and ulexite minerals carted from the mines and concentrators. Additionally, the mine and concentrator at Sijes produces mineral concentrates for direct sale.

As part of the initiatives being persued at Borax Argentina the Company is in the process of re-modelling the deposits and undertaking a review into the exploration potential. In 2014 Orocobre announced the upgrade of the Porvenir and Tincalayu resources to JORC compliance with resource estimates and exploration review reports currently being undertaken for the Dialblillos ulexite mineralisation and the Sijes hydroboracite mineralisation.

Borax Argentina has a high profile in Argentina and particularly in Salta province. It has strong history of excellent environmental and safety records, and healthy community relations.

Strategic Fit with Core Lithium Focus

Borax Argentina complements Orocobre’s salar-based industrial mineral strategy. Boric acid is a potentially valuable product to be extracted from brines such as the lithium-potash-boron brines at the Olaroz and Cauchari projects. Borax Argentina’s experience as a producer and marketer of boric acid will serve to augment operational and commercial insight related to potential future volumes of boric acid from the Company’s brine projects.

Borax Argentina also complements Orocobre’s regional project development plans by deepening personnel resources and “know how” in northwest Argentina. Valuable relationships with regional and national stakeholders have been developed by Borax Argentina, including the Governments of Salta and Jujuy, during more than fifty years operating in the region. Through the combination of Borax Argentina’s long experience in the Puna region and Orocobre’s salar asset potential, the Company has a well-established presence in Argentina.

Of note, Borax Argentina also owns the tenure on all or parts of the lithium projects being progressed by other lithium exploration companies, including Lithium Americas Corporation Ltd. (TSX:LAC) at Salar de Cauchari, Rodinia Lithium Ltd. (TSX-V:RM) at Diablillos, and Galaxy Resources Ltd (ASX:GXY) at Sal de Vida (formerly Lithium One’s project). As one of the conditions to extract brines, these companies are required to make payments to Borax Argentina either as fixed annual payments or a royalty related to production.

Processing Improvements & Production Upside

Orocobre aims to improve Borax Argentina’s near-term business performance through processing recovery improvements and increased asset utilisation. Longer-term, it is anticipated that there are potential resource expansion opportunities from historical estimates of significant quantity mineralisation that could potentially allow for either green or brownfield refining expansions. A validation program is underway on the historic estimates as part of the process to develop this potential.

Markets for Borates & Boron

Boron compounds, primarily borates, are widely used in hundreds of applications and productive processes, but an estimated 80% of all global demand is driven by the glass, ceramics and agricultural sectors in the form of refined borates or boric acid. Borate minerals and chemicals are all actively traded internationally, reflecting the global nature of demand.

The outlook for borates continues to be positive driven by population growth, urbanization, increasing demand for insulation, rising agricultural nutrient demands, modern high-tech glass products and coatings (used in computers, LEDs, plasma screens, circuit boards and solar panels) and many other industrial manufacturing applications. .

Demand for boron products remains strong, both regionally and globally. Currently, the primary geographic market for Borax Argentina is Brazil and to a lesser extent Argentina. Fully dependent on imports for its extensive borates needs, Brazil’s economy has been one of the faster growing in the world, a trend that is expected to continue. Borate demand is closely linked with the strength of Brazil’s glass, ceramics, construction and agricultural sectors. In addition to the favourable growth trends of the regional segments currently served by Borax Argentina, Orocobre believes that there are opportunities for Borax Argentina to expand into additional markets and supply additional products.

Borax Argentina has a solid reputation as a reliable supplier of high quality products and has strong, long-term relationships with many of its key customers based on a proven track record in successfully meeting their needs within both the industrial and agricultural sectors.

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