Lithium for Growth
This profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
Wealth Minerals (TSXV:WML; OTCQX:WMLLF; SSE:WMLCL; Frankfurt:EJZN) is a natural resources company focused on developing a premier lithium brine property package in Chile. Wealth Minerals has acquired four projects in Chile (Atacama, Laguna Verde, Trinity and Five Salars), which account for over 75,000 hectares. The company is now working on advancing these properties through the development stage.
With a plan to leverage a paradigm shift in the energy consumption space, Wealth sees a significant role emerging for lithium. With that in mind, the company’s business model includes using its established corporate platform to acquire assets at a reasonably-price which can be further developed by Wealth’s team and prioritize the development of properties that have the quickest route to revenue generation.
The Atacama Project is located in the Atacama Salar, the world’s highest grade and largest producing lithium brine deposit. Wealth Minerals is conducting an initial exploration program which includes geophysical work and extensive drilling. The company’s Laguna Verde project sits in Northern Chile, 15 kilometers west of the Argentine border. Past brine testing work on the property has indicated lithium from the brine can be recovered at almost 100% to a lithium sulphate solution of over 99.9% purity. In March 2018, Wealth entered into a joint venture partnership with ENAMI (National Mining Company of Chile) for the development of the Atacama and Laguna Verde projects. Under this agreement, ENAMI would own 10 percent of both projects and would give both parties the option to apply for permits to explore, develop, and produce and export lithium.
The Trinity Project is a consolidation of projects on two separate salars within close proximity to each in northern Chile: Aguas Calientes Norte and Quisquiro. The Five Salars property was acquired by Wealth’s Chilean subsidiary in March 2017 as part of the company’s initiative to play a major role in expected lithium asset consolidation in the Lithium Triangle. The five salars are in the Ascotan, Piedra Parada, Huasco, Lejia and Siglia projects.
Wealth Minerals is led by a highly experienced management team with a successful track-record of building companies and collaborating with industry leaders. Marcelo Awad, the Executive Director of Wealth Chile and ex-President and CEO of Antofagasta Minerals S.A, leads Wealth’s ongoing Chilean Lithium Salar acquisition drive. Awad’s deep knowledge of the mining industry and his top tier connections in Chile gives Wealth Minerals a competitive advantage.
The company recently closed a private placement raising gross proceeds of more than $6.9 million, which will be used to fund option payments on the company’s mineral options, the costs of reviewing potential mineral acquisitions in South America, and the funding of ongoing exploration work on the company’s existing projects.
- Strong, experienced management team with industry know-how and strategic connections.
- Competitive advantage in Chile – major lithium country.
- Wealth Minerals is the highest growth land owner and asset consolidator in the Chilean lithium industry.
- EV demand is expected to drive overall lithium demand by 10 percent per annum for at least the next decade.
- Atacama Project in the world’s highest grade and largest producing lithium brine deposit, contiguous with concessions owned by BHP Billiton, SQM, and CORFO.
- Recently raised proceeds of more than $6.9 million.
Chile has many of the world’s largest, highest grade resources of lithium, which makes the country well placed to be the price setter in both rising and falling markets—Henk van Alphen, Wealth Minerals CEO
While many investors are aware that Chile is a mining-friendly country with a proactive government, what is often misunderstood is the nature of the country’s regulatory environment when it comes to lithium. The South American nation is home to one third of the world’s lithium resources and accounts for one-third of the world’s lithium production.
Chilean brines are the most highly commercially viable in the world given their low magnesium content, large resource size and high grades. The country itself has a stable political and economic climate alongside the world’s largest pool of experienced lithium labor and mining services.
All production comes from a land block in the middle of the Atacama Salar which is held by the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) and licensed to two companies, Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) and Albemarle Corporation—the country’s only lithium producers. Considered a strategic metal under the current regulatory system, lithium export by private companies is currently prohibited. This policy has complicated the outlook that many in the investment community have for foreign lithium development companies trying to gain a foothold in the Chilean lithium market.
However, “this regulatory environment is changing because the Chilean government recognizes it is unsustainable, especially with a lot of lithium investment now flowing into Argentina,” stated Tim McCutcheon, Wealth’s President. A January 2015 signumBOX report commissioned by Chile’s President at the time, Michelle Bachelet, included recommendations to the government to reform the Chilean mining industry in regards to lithium as well as specific steps to advance that reform. The legislative branch is now deliberating potential changes to the regulatory environment which would open up Chile’s lithium sector to foreign investors. Wealth Minerals anticipates that these new regulations could be put in place by the end of 2018.
Flagship Property: Atacama Project
Chile’s Atacama Salar, the world’s highest grade and largest producing lithium brine deposit
The Atacama Lithium Project covers approximately 46,200 hectares contiguous with concessions owned by BHP Billiton, SQM and CORFO in northern Chile’s Atacama Salar. Both SQM and Albemarle have large-scale production facilities on CORFO-held ground in Atacama that together represent all of Chile’s and one-third of the world’s lithium output.
Wealth Minerals owns a 100 percent royalty-free interest in the 144 exploration concessions that make up the Atacama Project.
The Atacama Salar possesses favorable characteristics that reduce both the time and costs associated with brine-based lithium production:
- very high grades of 1,840mg/l lithium and as 22,630mg/l potassium
- highest evaporation rate in the industry at 3,200 mm per year
- extremely low annual rainfall of 15mm average per year
The region of the salar that contains Wealth Minerals’ Atacama Project concessions has had very limited exploration. With the Atacama salar as the company’s primary focus, Wealth will spend 2018 conducting exploration work on the property. This will include geophysical work and analysis, as well as the drilling of multiple holes aimed at testing the brine in the southwest corner of the Atacama license. In the later half of the year, the company will also conduct further data analysis and will work on obtaining regulatory approvals as well as an Environmental Impact Assessment survey.
This company will all act as inputs for a maiden resource estimate and a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project.
The Laguna Verde project is made up of 8,700 hectares and sits in Northern Chile, 15 kilometers from the Argentine border. Uniquely, Laguna Verde hosts its brines in the lake itself and the brines contain high values of lithium and potassium.
In 2010, a previous owner conducted a sampling program in which 78 samples were collected. Results from this program showed average grades of 213 mg/l lithium and 4,881 mg/l potassium. Using Tenova LiP™ and LiSX™ processing technology, 88 percent of the calcium and 97 percent of the magnesium were removed from the brine solution in a two-pass system, yielding purity values of 99.90 percent lithium sulphate. Lithium recovery was approximately 100 percent.
Geophysical information collected in 2017 showed surface brine water presence, which also indicates the potential for subsurface brines. The company is has embarked on a comprehensive exploration program, that when completed will include more geophysical surveys and drilling on the property to better understand the resource potential.
The Trinity Project is a consolidation of projects on two separate salars within close proximity to each other totaling 10,100 hectares in northern Chile, near the Argentine border: the Aguas Calientes Norte and Quisquiro.
Aguas Calientes Norte
Wealth Minerals has signed an LOI to earn a 100-percent royalty free interest in 2,000 hectares of concessions located in the Salar de Aguas Calientes. The concessions were the subject of surface sampling of brines and springs in 1993 and the results suggested a lithium concentration of up to 169mg/l.
Wealth Minerals has signed two formal agreements for the options to acquire a 100-percent royalty-free interest in 8,100 hectares of concessions in and adjacent to the Salar de Quisquiro. The northern portion of the salar is held by one of Chile’s two lithium producers, SQM.
Quisquiro is considered a Tier 1 salar together with the salars of Atacama, Maricunga, Pedernales, and La Isla. Exploration work on this salar is limited; however, salars in this category have an expected lithium concentration ranging from 423 mg/l to 1,080 mg/l.
Moving forward, Wealth plans to conduct geophysical surveys and drilling on the properties, followed closely by brine sampling and lithium recovery technology testing. This will lead towards the development of a maiden resource on the property and an economic assessment report.
In April 2017, Wealth announced that it had signed an LOI for an option agreement for a 100 percent royalty-free interest in a group of five properties in northern Chile. The concessions make up 10,500 hectares spread out across the Huasco, Ascotan, Leija, Siglia and Piedra Parada properties. Some of these are contiguous to properties held by Freeport McMoRan, BHP Billiton and Codelco.
The company plans to conduct geophysical surveys in partnership with neighbouring companies in the region. The company is currently considering joint venture opportunities for the properties with majors such as Codelco, BHP Billiton, Talison and SQM.
Henk Van Alphen – CEO/Director
Henk Van Alphen has over 30 years of experience in the mining industry. He has been a key player in such companies as Corriente Resources, Cardero Resources, Trevali Mining, Balmoral Resources, and International Tower Hill. During his career Van Alphen has raised and helped raise over $1bn in financing for various companies. He founded Wealth Minerals in 2005 and has led the company since.
Marcelo Awad – Executive Director Wealth Chile
Marcelo Awad has a long and distinguished career in the mining industry, including 18 years with Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (“Codelco”), most recently as Executive Vice President, and 16 years with Antofagasta Minerals S.A. (“Antofagasta”), the Mining Division of Antofagasta Plc, including 8 years as CEO from 2004 to 2012, a period of very significant growth for Antofagasta. In the 2011 Harvard Business Review, Awad was ranked as the number one CEO in Chile, 18th in Latin America and 87th in the world.
Tim McCutcheon – President
Tim McCutcheon is a capital markets professional and corporate manager with over 20 years’ business experience. In 2006 he was a founder of DBM Capital Partners, a boutique mining resource merchant bank with AUM of $130M and $100M completed M&A. McCutcheon has been a director/CEO of several public Emerging Market natural resource companies with assets in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Slovakia and Ghana.
Gordon Neal – Director
Gordon Neal has more than 35 years of experience in governance, corporate finance and investor relations. He founded Neal McInerney Investor Relations in 1991. Through marketing more than $4 billion in debt and equity financings, the company grew to be the second largest full service investor relations firm in Canada with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Los Angeles. Clients included; BCE, Nortel, Bell Canada International, Bell Mobility, Clearnet, Intrawest, Canaccord Capital, BMO Nesbitt Burns, and Blackberry (RIM). He was VP Corporate Development at MAG Silver Corp. where he provided capital market strategies and solutions to the board.
He is currently President of New Pacific Metals Corp. He has served on the board of Falco Resources, Balmoral Resources, Americas Petrogas, Rockgate Capital, and Xiana Mining. He has raised more than $500mn for resources companies since 2004. He graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry. 1977. He has also served as a member of the Dalhousie University Senate and Board of Governors.
Xiaohuan (Juan) Tang – Director
Juan Tang is an environmental engineer who most recently served as General Manager of Jinzhao Mining Peru, responsible for the successful permitting of the 2 billion tonnes Pampa de Pongo iron deposit, Arequipa, Peru. Tang has a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Environmental Engineering from Imperial College London and a Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Environmental Politics from the University of Oxford.
Leonard Harris – Director
Leonard Harris is a professional engineer with a metallurgy diploma and 52 years’ experience. He served as President and General Manager of Newmont Peru Limited and Vice-President and General Manager of Newmont Latin America. Harris was General Manager of the Minera Yanacocha gold mine in Peru.
Stefan Schauss – Director
Stefan Schauss has over 20 years of sales and business development experience, with a particular focus in recent years on the integration of EV infrastructure in both residential and industrial areas. He has also served in product management and business development roles for several companies regarding semiconductors, integrated circuits, and other electronic goods.
He is currently an independent consultant, and prior to that he was head of sales for Gildemeister Energy Storage GmbH, Austria, which was a world-leader in development of vanadium redox flow batteries. He has a MSc. Physics from The University Mainz, Germany.
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