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Lithium Power to expedite 50% earn-in for Maricunga lithium brine project

Lithium Power International Ltd. intends to complete its 50% earn-in on the Maricunga lithium brine project in northern Chile by up to six months ahead of the agreed joint venture schedule, following a successful preliminary economic assessment in December 2017.

The company will pay about US$7.5 million to the Maricunga joint venture company, Minera Salar Blanco SpA, before March 1 to complete the final 13.8% earn-in payment, it said Feb. 20.

Following the earn-in, Minera Salar Blanco will own a 32.33% stake in the project, with Bearing Lithium Corp. holding the remaining 17.67%.

Under the original agreement, Lithium Power was required to pay US$2 million before March 1, US$2 million before May 1, and about US$3.5 million before Sept. 1.

The preliminary economic assessment for the Maricunga project pegged a posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$731 million, a 20.4% internal rate of return, and a 3.25-year payback period.

The study estimated annual production of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and 74,000 tonnes of potassium chloride for 20 years.

Additionally, the company has produced the first batch of battery-grade lithium carbonate from the pilot plant.

The company plans to fast track development of the Maricunga project to a definitive feasibility study in the fourth quarter, it noted.