Brazil's Unipar has pledged to invest over US$ 100 million in lithium and renewable energies over the next three years in Argentina, it was announced.
The company is the leading producer of caustic soda and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Argentina and Latin America, with 800.000 tons per year of these inputs which are used by other industries.
It now plans to set up a lithium supply plant and a renewable energy park, Unipar's CEO Mauricio Russomanno explained during his visit to Argentina. The total amount of disbursement is not defined. But it will be higher than US$ 100 million. The board is analyzing several final issues to determine the figure. The decision has already been made. Only the details remain to be worked out, he said.
The expansion of the local operation has to do with strengthening the Argentine hub, as part of the company's project to double its size in the next five years. In the last three years, we grew by more than 100% in turnover, Russomanno went on.
Since acquiring Solvay Indupa, Unipar has invested more than US$ 100 million in Argentina, and capacity utilization remains above 80% when, 10 years ago, it was below 70%, he also pointed out.
The construction of a lithium plant in the northwest of Argentina will start between the end of the year and the beginning of 2023 and will last between 24 and 36 months, it was announced. The first stage will be ready by the end of 2024. The second, in the middle of that year, and the third, at the end. It will generate 250 direct jobs.
We are conducting environmental impact studies to move forward with the construction of the plant. We analyzed increasing the installed capacity of the complex we have in Bahia Blanca. But it is more reasonable, for logistical reasons, that the new facility is located in the north, close to the extraction and processing of the resource, Russomanno argued.
Part of the investment will also be allocated to the development of a renewable energy park. It will be solar or wind. We haven't defined it yet. Several regions are attractive: the north, because of the sunlight; and the south, because of the winds. In that sense, Argentina is similar to Brazil, he also pointed out.
As the fifth largest consumer of electricity in the domestic market - and the first in Brazil - the company aims to generate its own energy to be used in its production processes. We plan to do so in the first instance. Later, we will examine other possibilities for growth, said Russomanno.
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