- The Corfo-Albemarle negotiation for production from the Atacama Salar does not have application to Lithium Power's Maricunga JV (MJV), as the Maricunga salar properties are 100% owned by the MJV
The context of Albemarle negotiations
CORFO, the Chilean government agency founded to promote economic development in Chile, administers the lithium properties in the Atacama salar and holds special production agreements with major global lithium producers Albemarle and SQM. The properties from which these companies produce lithium are either owned by CORFO or subjected to contractual arrangements for exploitation with the latter. Albemarle announced in January that they had reached agreement with CORFO to expand their production from the Atacama Salar.
As part of that agreement they accepted a new royalty agreement which had progress increases in the royalty related to the price of lithium carbonate sale prices. CORFO is seeking an upper royalty rate of 60% for prices above US$12,000/tonne of lithium carbonate.
Important differences with Lithium Power and the Maricunga Project
It should be noted that geographically the Maricunga and the Atacama Projects are located in two different salars in Chile. These projects are in two different regions and therefore have no interaction between them.
The most significant difference between the situation of Albemarle (and SQM) in the Atacama Salar and Lithium Power's Maricunga Joint Venture (MJV) is that the MJV owns the Litio, Cocina, San Francisco, Salamina, Despreciada and Litio properties outright and CORFO has no ownership rights (or other rights to levy "super royalties") in the Maricunga salar.
Hence, the "super royalty" or the price for the lease negotiated between Albemarle and CORFO does not apply to the properties in the Maricunga salar.
On that basis, production from the MJV properties would involve only the eventual payment of a standard "mining royalty" which is a mining tax applicable to the net operating income deriving from mining operations in Chile, which is vastly different to the situation between Albemarle and CORFO.
Maricunga JV Background
The Maricunga JV is 50%-owned by LPI. The project is widely regarded as one of the highest quality undeveloped pre-production lithium brine project globally, with a very high lithium grade and strong flow rates. The company completed a substantial JORC compliant resource estimate in July 2017, based on results of the drilling & pump testing program, with the project progressing to a PEA in 4Q17. The reader is referred to the announcement by LPI on 12th July 2017 for details of the project resource.
About Lithium Power International Ltd
Lithium Power International Limited (ASX:LPI) (FRA:24L) is a pure-play lithium explorer and developer, focusing on developing and fast-tracking to production the high-grade Maricunga lithium brine project in Chile.
LPI has a well known performing technical team with the experience to take the Maricunga project all the way through the development stages to production.
The regions that LPI is currently focussed on are:
1. Maricunga JV (Chile) – On 13th September 2016, Lithium Power announced the creation of a new JV to develop the world-class Maricunga lithium brine deposit in northern Chile.
2. Pilbara (Western Australia) – LPI has one granted exploration tenement and two pending exploration applications covering 203km2 in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia. The largest granted exploration tenement is at Pilgangoora-Houston Creek is 2-3km west of the Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Altura Mining (ASX:AJM) lithium deposits.
3. Greenbushes (Western Australia) – LPI has two granted exploration tenements covering 400km2 in the Greenbushes area of southern Western Australia. The tenements are adjacent to the world’s largest hard rock lithium mine owned & operated by Tianqi/Talison.
4. Centenario (Argentina) –Through its Argentinian subsidiary, Lithium Power holds a total of 6 granted tenements in the Centenario lithium brine salar within the Salta province of the Puna Plateau. In total, the 6 granted tenements cover an area of 61.52km2. In addition, there is 1 further tenement in the grant review stage.
With the exception of the Maricunga JV, all tenements are 100% owned by LPI or LPSA (including rights to the Centenario tenement which is the subject of review by the Argentinian mining authorities).
Lithium Power International Ltd