Maricunga Lithium Resource Expansion and Finance Activities Update
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bearing Lithium Corp. (“Bearing” or the “Company”) (TSX Venture:BRZ) (OTCQB:BLILF) is pleased to provide a Maricunga lithium resource expansion and finance activities update as announced by Minera Salar Blanco (“MSB”).
- The latest drilling program on the Stage One mining concessions has been completed, with five exploration core holes (S-25, S-26, S-27, S-28 and S-29) each reaching target depth of 400m.
- Positive average lithium concentrations of 989 mg/l and a maximum of 3,375 mg/l, which confirm Maricunga as one of the richest deposits in Chile.
- Significant resource expansion expected for Stage One after the new drilling program tested the 200-400m mineralised zone.
- DFS update continues by Worley, GEA Messo and Atacama Waters.
- Preliminary indications of interest received from international financial institutions and private funds for debt financing and future equity financing of the project.
- Finance process will continue in coming months, with the Mitsui agreement announced on May 15 for Off-Take and Funding of the Stage One serving as a solid base.
- Review and certification processes initiated for ESG protocols. Proposals from specialised advisors are expected during Q3 to review all project information along with carbon footprint metrics.
As announced on 27 January 2021, the Company commenced additional exploration at the Maricunga Salar as part of the updated DFS for its Stage One Project with the aim of expanding the current Measured + Indicated (M+I) resource. This currently is measured from near surface to 200m depth, but recent drilling will also include the interval between 200m and 400m.
MSB has completed additional five diamond core holes to the target depth of 400m as scheduled. As a result, the resource update for the Stage One mining concessions will be based on:
- 5,257m drilled within 41 wells.
- 3 production wells and 4 long term pumping tests (more than 60 days in total).
- 1,194 brine samples analysed by Andes Analytical Assay, the University of Antofagasta in Chile and Norlab in Argentina.
- 501 undisturbed core samples taken for drainable porosity tests which were sent to Geosystems Analysis (GSA), Daniel B. Stephens and Associates, Corelabs and the British Geological Survey.
Positive results with average lithium concentrations of 989 mg/l and maximum values of 3,375 mg/l are shown in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Average Lithium and Potassium concentrations
Positive lithium/calcium/magnesium ratios have confirmed the world class nature of the Maricunga deposit (Table 2).
Table 2: Average lithium/calcium/magnesium ratios
Location of the different exploration and production wells, as well as of the geological traces are shown on Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Location of Geological Traces is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/77afb36a-4261-41d1-81d1-77eabd4c4c5f
A new Resource (M+I) estimate is in process, including the additional information to 400m depth, using SGeMS software as a base for the new Reserve estimate update which will be part of the updated DFS for Stage One. A significant resource expansion is expected to be between the range of 1.5x to 1.8x the 2019 values1.
1 Maricunga Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS), January 22nd, 2019
Figure 2: Exploration Diamond Core Holes – Major Drilling is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/1b5670be-6c99-4769-bc91-8025b44a628c
The DFS update continues to advance as planned by Worley (Engineering) and GEA Messo (Production Process). Several opportunities for optimisation have been identified in the engineering, with potential reduction also in the CAPEX of the project.
The Company has advanced further on its production process with significant efficiency increases. As part of the finance and commercial activities, new samples of high-quality battery grade Lithium Carbonate will be produced at GEA Labs in France for review by off-takers after the Basic Engineering is completed by the end of September. Purity is expected to be significantly higher compared with the original samples produced in 2018. They showed a 99.5% purity. Such an outcome would allow the Company to reach a wider spectrum of customers with different quality requirements in the future.
Financing activities have continued, with the Mitsui agreement for off-take and funding serving as a solid base.
A recovery in lithium prices, especially for battery grade lithium carbonate, along with the off-take agreed with Mitsui have had a positive impact on the expected level of leverage the project could support. The Company is now targeting a 50 per cent leverage for the project with a lower cost debt structure.
Lithium carbonate battery grade is now trading at $US14,000 per tonne in China, Japan and Korea, as shown below in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea, $/kg (midpoint) is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/0f122894-2987-41f4-bdb5-aa6c5077ccf0
As EV roll-out intensifies and electrification becomes a significant focus for governments, the scrutiny of lithium producers’ initiatives to minimise environmental impacts have been growing.
Sustainability has always been the centre of the Maricunga project. The company has made important efforts to become one of the first Zero Emission lithium brine producers. That includes minimising the water consumption of the production process design (self-producing more than 30 per cent of water used); using electricity only produced by solar generators through long term power purchase agreements; and having strict protocols to ensure any negative impact on the area have provided an opportunity to set a high standard in the industry. Additionally, the social aspect has been important
to the Maricunga project, having received open and ongoing support from both indigenous and civilian communities. All of these aspects have been widely recognised by the Chilean authorities.
The Company has initiated the process to review and certify its Environmental Social and Governance protocols. Proposals from specialised advisors are expected to be received during Q3 for the review of all the project information, as well as its carbon footprint metrics.
MSB’s Chief Executive Officer, Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro, commented:
“We are pleased with the positive results to date. We look forward to continuing advancement on all fronts as we progress the Maricunga Stage One project towards a successful outcome.”
About Bearing Lithium Corp.
Bearing Lithium Corp. is a lithium-focused mineral exploration and development company. Its primary asset is a 17.35% interest in the Maricunga Lithium Brine Project in Chile. The Maricunga Project represents one of the highest-grade lithium brine salars globally and the only pre-production project in Chile. Over $US 60 million has been invested in the Maricunga Project to date.
ON BEHALF OF THE BEARING LITHIUM BOARD
Signed “Gil Playford”
Gil Playford, Chairman
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Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward Looking Information
This press release includes certain “forward-looking information” and “forward-looking statements” (collectively “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable Canadian and United States securities legislation including the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, without limitation, statements relating the future operating or financial performance of the Company, are forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements are frequently, but not always, identified by words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “intends”, “estimates”, “potential”, “possible”, and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions, or results “will”, “may”, “could”, or “should” occur or be achieved.. Actual future results may differ materially. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Forward-looking statements reflect the beliefs, opinions and projections on the date the statements are made and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that, while considered reasonable by the Company, are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties and contingencies. Many factors, both known and unknown, could cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from the results, performance or achievements that are or may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and the parties have made assumptions and estimates based on or related to many of these factors. Readers should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements and information contained in this news release concerning these times. Except as required by law, the Company does not assume any obligation to update the forward-looking statements of beliefs, opinions, projections, or other factors, should they change, except as required by law.