Patricio is a Principal Process Engineer with over 30 years of experience in lithium processing, refining and purification. He joined Ausenco in late 2018 and is responsible for developing Ausenco’s lithium project portfolio in South America. Patricio brings his experience working on lithium processing plants from initial conception through to commissioning and production, specializing in processing lithium Li2CO3-LiOH, potash, iodine and nitrate salts with further experience in base metals such as copper and iron.
Over his career, Patricio has worked on numerous lithium brine (salt flats), base metals and non-metallic salts projects, as well as the design and commissioning of hydrometallurgical plants in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. His key project experience includes the commissioning and start-up of the 2nd stage for the La Negra Lithium plant (Albemarle) in Antofagasta, Chile, later working through all engineering phases of the project’s 3rd expansion. For this project, Patricio was involved in an innovative approach to processing that incorporates an evaporator to recover water purged from the solution, a necessary condition for the viability of the project as water is scarce in the desert climate of Chile. Subsequently, Patricio worked on the Oloroz Lithium project for SKM, incorporating a novel use of carbon dioxide in the refining process; an innovation at the time that provided a viable alternative to obtaining refined battery grade lithium carbonate.
Other significant projects include the Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project (Ioneer Ltd.), a conceptual-basic engineering project where Patricio and the team developed a process to incorporate vat leaching of the ore, followed by the use of evaporators, then the traditional method of production that results in the production of battery grade lithium carbonate. He also participated in the conceptual engineering of the Salar de Maricunga lithium project in Chile (Codelco). More recently, he has worked at the Stage 2 of Expansion lithium carbonate project (Orocobre) production capacity by approximately 25,000 tpy of Lithium Carbonate technical grade (>99,0% Li2CO3) bringing total Olaroz production capacity to approximately 42,500 tpy, part of which will be utilized as feedstock for the proposed Naraha Lithium Hydroxide Plant to be built in Japan. Patricio is currently participating in independent reviews for other Lithium Carbonate projects in Chile.
Throughout his career, Patricio has held various leadership positions with major Lithium providers and clients including Albemarle (ex. Rockwood), Orocobre, Codelco, Ioneer Ltd. (ex-Global Geoscience Ltd.), AMSA, BHP, and Barrick.