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  • Lithium carbonate producer, Orocobre (TSX:ORL) has recommenced its expansion of the Olaroz Lithium Facility in Northern Argentina
  • Expansion halted earlier this year, when Argentina ceased all non-essential operations to stem the spread of COVID-19
  • The expansion has recommenced at a slower-than-expected pace, due to reduced staff at the site
  • The company expects the expansion will be delayed and is currently assessing options to speed up progress and conserve capital
  • Orocobre Limited (ORL) is holding steady, with shares trading for C$1.92 and a market cap of $521.4 million

Lithium carbonate producer, Orocobre (TSX:ORL) has recommenced its expansion of the Olaroz Lithium Facility in Northern Argentina.

Expansion halted earlier this year, when Argentina ceased all non-essential operations in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The company received approval from the Argentine Government, as well as local communities and unions to recommence the project.

Stage Two of the expansion will improve the site’s operating margins and increase its lithium carbonate production capacity by 25,000 tonnes annually. The expansion initially gained approval in 2018, and was partially financed through Orocobre’s $250.66 million credit facility.

Orocobre stressed that safety remains its main aim during the ramp up. Toward this end, the company is recommencing with reduced staff, to meet provincial social distancing protocols.

However, the reduced headcount has slowed  the expansion’s progress. As a result, the company believes that it will need to amend the schedule which it announced previously. Orocobre has not yet produced a new timeline for the project, but is assessing the extent of the delay. The company is also exploring options to speed up progress or conserve capital.

Argentina recently surpassed 4,000 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus. To further restrict the virus from entering the country, the government banned all commercial flights to and from the country until September.

Earlier this month, the company recommenced lithium production at its borax facility. Despite the government extending the nationwide quarantine, the company was able to resume operations after it qualified as essential. At the time, Orocobre was preparing the Orlaroz facility to restart, but was still awaiting final approval.

Orocobre Limited (ORL) is holding steady, with shares trading for $1.92 at 12:56am EST.

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