Laws that could help clear the way for Plateau Energy Metals’proposed $800 million Falchani lithium and uranium deposit may be passed in Peru within six months, according to Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra.
Plateau said last July that it had found 2.5 Mt (3 million st) of high-grade lithium resources and 124 million lbs of uranium resources at its Falchani deposit in southern Peru, and was looking for a partner in what it said could become the world’s biggest lithium mine. However, Peru lacked a legal framework for mining radioactive materials, Reuters reported.
The lithium at Falchani, a hard-rock deposit, can only be mined by also extracting uranium.
Vizcarra said his energy and mines minister was already working on a legal framework for mining uranium and lithium.
“It has to be soon. I calculate within the next six months,” Vizcarra said in an interview on Thursday in the Amazonian town of Pucallpa where he also discussed his proposed referendum on anti-graft measures.
Vizcarra said that with the right mechanisms, the project could be a key driver of development in the highland region of Puno, where the project is located at an altitude of more than 4,480 m (14,700 ft). “If we manage to do this, that wealth will mainly benefit Puno,” he said.
Lithium is largely concentrated in the lithium triangle between Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. But if Plateau can confirm the size of its discovery in reserves, it might attract companies such as China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp or U.S.-based Albemarle Corp, to Peru.
Vizcarra said he did not think that Newmont Mining Corp’s Conga gold project or Southern Copper Corp’s proposed Tia Maria copper mine - both stalled by farmers’ protests - were socially viable yet. “They need to be analyzed,” he said.
Vizcarra called a proposed railway for transporting mineral concentrates from Peru’s southern mining belt, where MMG Ltd operates the Las Bambas copper operation and Strike Resources wants to build an iron-ore mine, a “good project.”
Vizcarra said he would study the project, which was proposed under Kuczynski, next year but believed it would work using a mix of private and public financing.