- Major milestone achieved with the submission of the Maricunga Project's Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") to the Chilean Environmental Authority, Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental ("SEA"), after more than 2 years of preparation.
- During the EIA evaluation process, priorities will shift to secure finance for the Project and off-take agreements for the high-purity lithium carbonate output.
- The Project will provide significant economic and social benefits for Chile and the Atacama Region. The Company expects to continue working closely with the Chilean authorities and contribute to strengthen the country's position on the global lithium industry.
- The EIA submission follows completion of a Resource Report and Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") in 2017 and granting of a Nuclear Commission ("CCHEN") permit in 2018.
- The Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS") is expected to be finalised and released by the end of 2018 which will continue to demonstrate the outstanding value of the Maricunga Project.
The EIA is the culmination of more than two years of exhaustive work. The process involved in-depth data gathering, a variety of environmental and engineering studies and monitoring campaigns carried out by experienced company management and consulting experts, including MWH-Stantec, WorleyParsons and Flo Solutions.
The result is a comprehensive 11,400-page document, which includes complete environmental baseline studies, hydrological and hydrogeological modelling, human, archaeological and fauna and flora characterisation, and impact evaluation.
The EIA also included a lengthy process of social engagement with the Colla indigenous communities in the area. In addition, significant consultation took place with regional authorities and local organisations, which are all interested parties in the EIA process.
The EIA under Chilean law, requires the SEA to provide within 40 days of submission a notification of any major deficiencies. These include, but are not limited to, observations, comments, requests for clarification and/or modification, before advancing to the formal assessment process. Final approval of the EIA is expected to be obtained by the end of 2019 once the SEA has comprehensively reviewed each section of the EIA. The Company would expect to receive a construction sanction decision as early as the first quarter of 2020.
The EIA submission follows the JORC Resource Report, NI 43-101 and Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA"), which were completed in 2017, as well as the Nuclear Commission ("CCHEN") permit obtained in 2018. These documents demonstrated robust economics for the Project.
The Maricunga Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS") is being prepared by WorleyParsons and is expected to be finalised and released by the end of December 2018. Remaining activities on reserve modelling, as well as engineering for the production plants being executed by GEA Messo in Germany, are also near completion. This confirms the Maricunga Project as one of the most advanced pre-production lithium brine projects in Chile and in South America.
In addition, discussions have commenced with major Chilean and international institutions to finalise a letter of intent during the second half of 2019 for financing the Project. International companies have also approached both LPI and MSB regarding off-take agreements and future participations. Discussions will continue in parallel with the finalisation of the development activities of the Project.
MSB's CEO & newly appointed LPI Non-Executive Director, Mr Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro, said:
The EIA assessment is an extremely involved and time-consuming process. We took a position to commit to extra studies and comprehensive reviews to ensure that the EIA submitted was of the highest standard possible. The critically important and extremely technically complicated hydrological and hydrogeological modelling has provided us with very positive outcomes, which are documented in the EIA and will also be included in the DFS to be released by the end of the year. Social engagement with the local communities has enabled the Project development to be welcomed in the Maricunga area, and we anticipate positive outcomes from the EIA review process.
LPI's Chairman, David Hannon, said:
As the majority shareholder in Minera Salar Blanco, LPI is delighted with the quality of the Report produced by MSB's team. LPI's independent discussions with the Company's legal advisors commended the quality of the Report. Completion of a 11,400-page EIA Report of this standard is no small feat and we acknowledge and thank Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro and his team for their diligent work. The submission of the EIA further demonstrates the advanced development and the outstanding value of the Project and constitutes a key step for the Company on its way to become one of the global suppliers for the lithium industry. The submission of the EIA will further attract interested parties to engage in an off-take and funding relationship as we move further ahead in the development of the Project.
Contributing Specialist Consultants
There are many rigorous technical studies which serve as references to the EIA. These have been conducted by carefully selected and well-known international experts. Lithium Power International Ltd and Minera Salar Blanco S.A are appreciative of the efforts of its internal management team and the following independent consultants who prepared and contributed to the EIA.
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 (PLS.ASX) and Altura Mining (AJM.ASX) 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).
ContactDavid R Hannon
or Andrew Phillips
CFO / Company Secretary
Lithium Power International
P: +612 9276 1245