Bacanora Minerals Ltd (LON:BCN) reckons it's on track to begin production from its Sonora lithium mine in Mexico in the first quarter of 2020 and expects construction to begin in the first half this year.
Design of both the roaster/kiln FEED (front end engineering design) and the crystalliser/evaporation/IX FEED has begun, the firm said in a broad update.
These two equipment packages are expected to make up around 75% of the total capital cost of the processing plant.
Bacanora is in detailed contract discussions with EPC/EPCM engineering groups for all other parts of the plant to finalise the project cost and to complete budget and timetables.
The recent feasibility study estimated the capital cost for the Stage 1 production of 17,500tpa (tonnes per annum) of lithium carbonate at Sonora at US$420mln.
Bacanora said it continued to finalise its debt and equity financing strategy for the project with Canaccord and other advisors.
As reported last month, Chinese firm NextView was in default of a £31.2mln placing, which would have filled the final part of the US$180mln cost of the first phase of construction at Sonora.
NextView has continued to fail to complete the placing, said Bacanora today, adding that the placing letter had now been terminated and that it reserved its rights to pursue any available legal remedies.
Next world class lithium producer
"The feasibility study in December 2017 confirmed Sonora's credentials to become a world class, low cost producer of battery grade lithium carbonate, and we are focused on realising this potential at the earliest opportunity," said Peter Secker, chief executive at Bacanora.
"With this in mind, work streams covering FEED, infrastructure, permitting and financing are all progressing concurrently and on schedule so that we remain on course to embark on the construction phase at Sonora in H1 2018.
"Allowing for an 18 month build out period, this is expected to enable the production of high value lithium products to commence in Q1 2020, which we believe positions Sonora as the next world class lithium mine supplying fast growing markets, such as electric vehicles and energy storage."