Atacama Region, Chile
PEA 4Q17, Definitive Feasibility Study 4Q18
2.15Mt LCE at 1,160 mg/l & 5.7 Mt KCI at 8,500 mg/l
The Maricunga project lies adjacent to the Chile-Argentina Highway 31, 170 km northeast of Copiapo and 250 km from the port of Caldera. A 23kV power line crosses the property and is connected to Chile’s 220kV power grid.
Maricunga is a high-quality brine resource with high brine grades, high flow rate characteristics and high drainable porosity and permeability. The 2017 JORC and NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate for the deposit totals 2.15 Mt LCE & 5.7 Mt KCl from surface to 200m depth. Significant potential for resource expansion lies in an exploration target of 1.0 – 2.5 Mt of LCE and 3.0 – 6.6 Mt of KCl between 200m and 400m depth. The exploration target has been drilled to 360m and remains lithium enriched and open at depth (complete details are provided in resource tables and technical reports).
LPI is fast-tracking the development of Maricunga and has submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report in September 2018. This will be followed by a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) scheduled for 4Q18. A lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and potassium chloride (KCl) process flow sheet has been defined.
The first lithium carbonate sample has been produced from Salar de Maricunga (Feb 19) at GEA facilities in Germany. The brine was concentrated at the pilot plant solar evaporation ponds at the Maricunga site for almost 12 months, and subsequently treated at the GEA lab in Duisburg, Germany, to purify it and precipitate lithium carbonate suitable for battery grade specification similar to those produced in Chile by Albemarle and SQM. The process route is based on conventional technology and comes with the know-how that enables the process to scale up to commercial production. The purity of the product is above 99.4%.
The project has the potential for a multi-decade mine life in its currently defined resource to 200m depth, with the possibility for substantial resource expansion in an exploration target at 200-400m depth.
Permitting and government approvals are expected by 3Q20, with the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission Export licence (CCHEN) awarded in March 2018. Project financing is targeted in 2019 and the start of construction in 2020.