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Neo Lithium Corp. (TSXV:NLC, OTCQX:NTTHF) is an emerging lithium brine exploration company in the world’s leading lithium production hub, South America’s Lithium Triangle. The company is aggressively advancing on its wholly-owned 3Q Project located in Catamarca Province, Argentina’s largest lithium producer. The newly discovered 3Q Project’s unique geochemistry makes it one of the highest-grade and lowest-impurity salars in the world.
Low impurities allow for low-cost evaporation techniques in the production of lithium carbonate. The favorable results from recent process, pump and porosity studies at 3Q will be factored in to an upcoming Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) slated for completion in Q3 2017. Neo Lithium is fully permitted and well-financed through feasibility. The company recently completed a $25 million financing and is fully financed to feasibility in Q3 2018.
Neo Lithium announced its maiden resource estimate for 3Q in May 2017 and showed a measured and indicated resource of 714,242 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent at an average grade of 716 mg/L lithium. Dr. Waldo Perez, President and CEO commented, “This maiden resource estimate highlights the significant potential of the 3Q Project,” and added, “The size, grade and low impurities of the resource along with our preliminary process studies provide us with all of the building blocks as we quickly move to the Preliminary Economic Assessment phase.”
Neo Lithium’s management and technical teams are highly knowledge and experienced with lithium salars. President and CEO Dr. Waldo Perez was formerly the President and CEO of Lithium Americas as well as the technical leader from discovery through to full feasibility on the Cauchari lithium salar, the third largest lithium brine resource in the world. Neo Lithium Chairman Constantine Karayannopoulos is a professional chemical engineer and a former Director of Lithium Americas.
- Fully-permitted, 100-percent owned pure lithium brine play in Argentina
- Large salar footprint encompassing one of the highest grade, lowest impurity lithium brine projects in the world
- Robust potential from its maiden resource estimate for 3Q
- Measured and indicated resource of 714,242 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent at an average grade of 716 mg/L lithium
- Inferred resource of 1,339,546 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent at an average grade of 713 mg/L lithium
- Low impurities allow for low-cost solar evaporation process for lithium carbonate production
- US$8 million invested in advancing the project with infrastructure in place including lab and pilot evaporation pond
- Fast-tracking project with PEA expected in Q3 2017 followed by Feasibility Study in Q3 2018
- Exceptionally experienced management and technical teams
- Strongest institutional shareholder base with 40 percent; 20 percent insider-owned
Key Asset: Tres Quebradas (3Q) Lithium Project
The most recent high-grade lithium brine lake and salar complex discovery in the Lithium Triangle.
The 3Q Project covers 350 square kilometers and includes three brine reservoirs and three salars. The complex is located in the Puna Plateua which lies in the southwestern portion of Catamarca. The province is also home to FMC’s Fenix lithium mine and Galaxy’s Salde Vida project. 3Q is easily accessible year-round via an upgraded project road and a provincial highway. With a direct road to Pacific ports, the project is a mere 30 kilometers from the high-grade Maricunga Salar located along the Chilean border.
Infrastructure includes onsite fully-functional solar power, diesel generators, a diesel pump station, a state-of-the-art Vaisala weather station, a full geochemical laboratory and a completed pilot pond.
Resource Estimate for 3Q
Northern Target: Unique High-Grade/Low Impurity Chemistry
The right chemistry for low cost evaporation process: high lithium grades and low impurities.
Several lithium-rich geothermal springs have been identified (as indicated by the yellow stars on the map below) in the northern portion of the project—which has the highest concentration of lithium and potassium grades, including the lowest concentration of impurities, in the 3Q complex. Neo Lithium sampled 12 of these springs and the results include returns of over 1,000 mg/L lithium, impressive considering thermal springs typically contain less than 100 mg/L lithium.
Neo Lithium is targeting this highly prospective northern section of the 3Q Project. In 2016, the company commenced geochemical sampling in this area of the project, collecting a total of 300 geochemical samples from the reservoir and the salar.
Positive process studies
Neo Lithium’s 3Q Project has unique chemical properties ideally suited for lithium carbonate production using standard, low cost solar evaporation technology.
In October 2016, Neo Lithium released the positive results of a process study—equivalent to a metallurgical study in hard rock mining—conducted on the northern target. The bench-scale laboratory study was completed by a third-party using a 0.5 tonne brine sample to assess the process required to produce lithium from 3Q’s brine.
The results highlighted below indicate that the 3Q Project brine can be concentrated to a very high level through solar evaporation and without the high-cost additives commonly required by most lithium brine operations.
- A pond evaporation time of approximately 8 months can yield brine concentrations of up to 4.6 percent lithium with minimal reagent consumption.
- An additional 4 months of further evaporation would yield brine concentrations of 6 percent to 7 percent lithium.
- Recovery is about 25 tonnes of lithium carbonate per hectare of pond constructed; i.e. 800 hectares is needed to produce 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.
- The 3Q salar has well over 3,000 hectares of flat ground on which to construct ponds.
- The results also demonstrate that the brine could produce potash as a by-product during the evaporation process.
Neo Lithum plans to conduct a one-hectare pilot pond series to test the evaporation process onsite at the salar.
Drilling campaign confers high grades, low impurities
Drill results at 3Q indicate the unique high grade/low impurity chemistry identified at surface continues at depth.
At 3Q, Neo Lithium has completed 10 diamond drill holes and 11 rotary holes totaling approximately 2,500 meters with a goal of further testing the chemical composition of the brine at depth. Consistent with surface sampling, the results have identified high-grade lithium brine at depth. Additionally, the drill work has support the potential for a deep salar with the existence of porous layers down to 300 meters.
- Drill hole PP1-D-3 completed 2 kilometers south of the Northern Target yielded an average lithium grade of 528 mg/L across 192 meters, extending the Northern Target at depth to the south.
- Drill hole PP1-D-5 located in the center of the Northern Target yielded an average of 1,024 mg/L lithium over 63 meters including 1,400 mg/L of lithium over 20 meters.
- Drill hole PP1-D-6 located in the southern end of the Northern Target yielded an average of 683 mg/L lithium over 200 meters.
Newly Identified Southern Target
Neo Lithium’s 2017 drill program at 3Q led to the discovery of a new high-grade target area within the project, now known as the Southern Target. Those results include a drill hole located
in the southern end of the Southern Target, PP1-D-7 which yielded an average of 462 mg/L lithium and 4,304 mg/L potassium. Both the Northern and Southern Targets comprise a high-grade lithium-bearing footprint of approximately 6,897 hectares.
“Results continue to show the impressive nature of this unique salar—virtually the entire salar complex contains high grade lithium, not just the Northern Target where we had initially concentrated our efforts due to surface results,” said Neo Lithium Chairman Constantine Karayannopoulos.
Pump and Porosity Results
Recent pump and porosity testing at the 3Q Project, essential for completing a resource estimate and economic model, yielded impressive results including from Platform 3 which was able to produce 200 m3/h of brine at 800 mg/L lithium. This is equivalent to 3,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.
“These initial pump test results are extraordinary in terms of production capacity and drainable porosity, and we will do longer pump tests to verify these extremely positive results,” said Dr. Waldo Perez, President and CEO of Neo Lithium. “The combination of higher lithium grades and high porosity values at depth has further strengthened our belief that we have discovered an exceptional lithium deposit.”
Upcoming Preliminary Economic Assessment
The Preliminary Economic Assessment for the 3Q Project is on track to be completed in Q3 2017 by renowned engineering firm GHD Chile SA. Neo Lithium is well-financed through to a Definitive Feasibility Study expected for completion in Q3 2018.
Waldo A. Perez, Ph.D., P.Geo — President and CEO
Dr. Waldo Perez has 28 years of academic and industry experience in mineral exploration in South America. He was the founder and technical leader of the Cauchari project acquired through Lithium Americas Corp., and its President and CEO from inception until the end of the technical work resulting in a definitive feasibility study with strong economics. Previously he served as interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Latin American Minerals Corp and Senior Geologist for Barrick Gold, IAMGOLD, Opawica Explorations and APEX Geosciences.
Constantine Karayannopoulos — Chairman
Constantine Karayannopoulos is Chairman of the Molycorp Board of Directors, Director of the Canada China Business Council and is a member of the Advisory Board at the University of Toronto’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. A professional engineer, he holds Bachelor and Master of Applied Science degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Previously he served as interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Molycorp and President and Chief Executive Officer of Neo Material Technologies. He was Director of Lithium Americas Corp. from 2011 to 2015.
Carlos Vicens, MBA — Chief Financial Officer
Carlos Vicens has over 15 years of experience in financial analysis, corporate development, strategy and investment banking including mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. Vicens previously worked as Vice President in Scotiabank’s Investment Banking Mining team and participated in over $10B of M&A transactions and well over $5B in equity and debt issuances.
Thomas Pladsen — Director
Thomas Pladsen has over 20 years’ experience in the exploration and mining industry. Pladsen is a director of Northfield Capital Corporation, Crystal Peak Minerals Inc. and KWG Resources Inc.
Gabriel Pindar — Director
Gabriel Pindar has over 22 years’ experience as a Project Executive in the development of mining, gas and large scale infrastructure (rail and port) projects in Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Australia, Canada, West Africa and United Kingdom. Pindar joined the ArcelorMittal Group in 2013 as Project Controls Manager for the ArcelorMittal Mining corporate office in London and was appointed GM and Head of Projects in January 2015. His particular expertise in the area of Fast Tracking projects developed through the Iron Ore boom in Australia.
Paul Fornazzari, L.L.B., LLM — Director
Paul Fornazzari is currently a partner at the law firm Fasken Martineau LLP and has a broad range of corporate, commercial and securities law experience. He was formerly the Chairman of Lithium Americas Corp., Director and Corporate Secretary. He has broad experience advising boards, executive teams and investment dealers and acts for domestic and foreign clients in various industries including: mining, petroleum, technology, life sciences and financial services.
Martin Erroz — Project Manager
Martin Erroz is a Senior Geologist with over 15 years of experience in Mineral Exploration. He
Has previously worked with Lithium Americas Corp, Latin American Minerals, Vale de Rio Doce , Gold Fields , Cardero Resources and Minera Piuquenes, on lithium, potash, gold, copper and zinc exploration and development projects.Erroz worked with Dr. Peralta and was instrumental in the discovery of Cauchari Salar, Lithium Americas Corp.
Mark King, B.Sc., PhD., P. Geo. — Independent Qualified Person
Dr. Mark King is a hydrogeologist specializing in groundwater flow and migration of constituents dissolved in groundwater. He has worked in this field, as both a researcher and consultant, for 25 years – first as a Research Associate at the Centre for Water Resources Studies (Technical University of Nova Scotia), and subsequently as a senior Project Manager in the largest environmental consulting firm in Atlantic Canada. Dr. King produced the first 43-101 compliant report filed in SEDI for a Lithium Brine deposit in Cauchari Salar and had consulted with most of the Lithium Brine salars in the Puna Plateau.
Claudio Suarez-Authievre, Ph.D Chem., B.Sc. Chem. — Process Engineer Manager
Dr. Claudio Suarez-Authievre is an expert in electrolysis, photo-electrochemistry and electro-catalysis research with 17 years of experience in academy and Industry. He worked for SQM as Process Researcher for 3 years and developed the process for Lithium Americas Corp. in the Cauchari Salar, and was the co-inventor with Waldo Perez of the proprietary lithium extraction process in Cauchari.