Borax
Argentina

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 has operated in the Salta-Jujuy region for over 50 years and its operations include two open pit mines, concentrators, refining capacity and significant land holdings. The mining operations are located in Tincalayu and Sijes.

The company 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.

With a high profile in Argentina and particularly in Salta province, Borax Argentina has a history of excellent environmental and safety records, and strong links to the community.

Borax Argentina Tincalayu Mine

Operations

During FY19 Borax has continued on a path of restructuring and transformation to become a sustainable operational and financial business unit. The focus has been on key areas which include production cost efficiency and optimisation and sales. Financial performance has improved through an emphasis on business with higher value, more profitable products and the development of products with sound value propositions for customers that have attractive and sustainable financial metrics.

Production rates across the operations have been in line with expectations and increased sales has reduced inventory levels from their peak to planned long-term levels. Some inventory build was necessary in order to drive plant efficiencies, lower unit costs, improve responsiveness to customer requirements and to support sales and market growth initiatives.

The strategy of shifting to a product mix that will drive higher average pricing, improved margins and reducing unit costs at full production rates has demonstrated traction with steadily improving sales results and a return to profitability in FY19. For more information click to view Orocobre’s 2019 Annual Report.

BORAX ARGENTINA Combined Product Sales Volumes Year on Year - 2019

During FY19 Borax undertook a comprehensive borates market study which has reinforced their ongoing strategy to focus predominantly on Southern Cone1 markets. This strategy is driven by the location of Borax, the value proposition to customers and the projected market growth profile of South American markets. The return of Borax to operational profitability in FY19 is a significant achievement in the journey of improvement and growth demonstrating that the business can deliver locally generated improvements in a very challenging market and economic environment at the bottom of the price cycle.

Products

Borax products can be divided into three groups; minerals, refined products and boric acid. The minerals historically produced are ulexite, colemanite and hydroboracite. Ulexite has traditionally been used as a feedstock to produce boric acid, however hydroboracite is now the primary feedstock allowing for a lower cost of production and a product with a lower chloride content. Hydroboracite and colemanite are supplied into the ceramic market with hydroboracite also supplied into agricultural and oil and gas markets.

The refined products are comprised of borax decahydrate, borax pentahydrate and borax anhydrous. These refined products have applications in a wide range of markets from agriculture, ceramics, glass, insulation fibreglass, textile fibreglass, smelting fluxes and a number of other specialty applications.

Refined Borates Expansion Study

An expansion study continues to evaluate a potential expansion of the Tincalayu refined borates operation from its current production capacity of 30,000 tpa to 100-120,000 tpa borax decahydrate equivalent and a 40,000 tpa boric acid plant. It is anticipated that the potential expansion will significantly increase efficiencies in the production of refined borates at Tincalayu and contribute to providing a step change improvement in unit costs.

Customers

Borax is the only South American based boron producer with a wide range of refined products and relatively unique mineral products.

The value proposition to customers is that it is a local high-quality manufacturer and supplier of boron products well positioned to provide value particularly in the form of security of supply to businesses predominantly in South America and to the operations of these companies and other key customers offshore. For more information click to view Orocobre’s 2019 Annual Report.

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