Chile’s central environmental committee has approved the project’s environmental impact assessment, allowing the project to move ahead.
Shares of Vancouver-based Bearing Lithium (TSXV:BRZ,OTCQB:BLILF) surged 20 percent after news that its joint venture company Minera Salar Blanco has received environmental approval for the US$563 million Maricunga lithium project in Chile.
Chile’s central environmental committee has approved the asset’s environmental impact assessment, allowing the project to move ahead with its financial structuring and to then start construction.
“Receiving this regulatory approval is the final milestone in advancing our Maricunga project and reinforces our continued strong relationships with the Chilean Government,” CEO of Minera Salar Blanco Cristóbal García-Huidobro said.
“We are confident that the subsequent commencement of the construction will generate a positive impact both for the local communities and the country.”
Looking ahead, the company is now in discussions with a number of international financial institutions and potential offtakers to fund construction, which is expected to begin at the end of Q3 2020.
Maricunga is described as Chile’s highest-grade and most advanced lithium project outside the Salar de Atacama. It is expected to produce 20,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) per year over the course of 20 years.
According to a 2019 definitive feasibility study, the project has an after-tax net present value at an 8 percent discount of US$908 million, an internal rate of return of 21 percent and a 4.2 year payback, including a two year ramp up. Operating costs are estimated at US$3,772 per metric ton of LCE.
Last year, Chile’s state-owned Codelco signed a non-binding agreement with Minera Salar Blanco to explore a joint venture in the Maricunga salt flat, where both companies hold tenements. In January, the state miner filed with regulators a plan to begin exploration for lithium in its holdings, hoping to explore for as many as 10 months if approved.
Bearing Lithium has an 18 percent interest in Maricunga, with Australia’s Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI) holding 51 percent and private Chilean company Minera Salar Blanco having 31 percent.
On Wednesday (February 5), shares of Bearing Lithium closed up 14.29 percent in Toronto at C$0.16. The company’s share price is up 23.08 percent year-to-date. Shares of Lithium Power International also jumped more than 30 percent after the news, closing at AU$0.35 on the ASX.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.