Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI) has increased its JORC resource estimate by 3.7x after modelling the latest drill results from the Maricunga Lithium Brine Project in northern Chile.
The JORC resource estimate stands at 2.15 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and 5.7 million tonnes of potassium chloride to a depth of 200 metres.
The brine resource is also one of the highest average resource concentrations globally measuring 1,160 milligrams per litre lithium and 8,500 milligrams per litre potassium.
Maricunga is regarded as one of the highest quality pre-production lithium brine projects globally.
Martin Holland, CEO, commented: “Not only is the resource much larger than defined in 2012 but there is a very significant exploration target beneath the resource with reasonable expectation that deeper drilling would add further resources to the project.”
The Maricunga Lithium Project is held in a joint venture with a Chilean family office and is located in the world-renowned lithium triangle of northern Chile.
The lithium triangle is home to the largest and highest-grade lithium brine mines in the world and consequently is the source of the world’s lowest cost lithium production.
Maricunga consisted originally of the Litio 1 - 6 mining properties and covered 1,438 hectares from which an initial NI 43-101 lithium resource estimate was calculated in 2012.
Between 2013 and 2015 the property holding was expanded to 2,563 hectares with the purchase of the adjacent Cocina, San Francisco, Salamina and Despreciada mining properties.
Drilling in the 2016-17 campaign was designed to explore the newly acquired mining properties as well as deeper in the salt flat.
Target drilling depths ranged from 200-400 metres, compared to 150 metres on which the 2012 resource was based.
The 2016-17 drilling program has expanded the lithium resource 3.7 fold at the Maricunga Project.
The higher confidence Measured and Indicated categories comprise 80% of the updated resource, with the Inferred category the remaining 20% of the total 2.15 million tonnes LCE resource defined to 200 metres.
An exploration target of 1.0 to 2.5 million tonnes of LCE and 2.9 to 6.6 million tonnes of potassium chloride is defined below the base of the resource at 200 metres to a depth up to 400 metres.
Working to complete a pre-feasibility study
A pre-feasibility study is currently underway on the Maricunga project by top-tier engineering consultancy firm WorleyParsons (ASX:WOR).
This study is to be completed in the coming December quarter and includes initial project engineering, site infrastructure investigations and environmental baseline monitoring for the project environmental impact assessment.
WorleyParons have a strong track record of experience in design and construction of lithium and potash projects, together with responding to operational issues.
The resource upgrade is a significant achievement for LPI as it has transitioned the project’s resource size to a level of strategic significance.
Importantly, the resource’s lithium grade has maintained its high level through the resource expansion.
In addition to the favourable resource base, LPI’s technical team has also confirmed the positive porosity and permeability characteristics of sediments hosting the brine for future extraction.
These characteristics alongside the high brine grades position LPI to be a low-cost future lithium producer.
Furthermore, the project’s future is supported by roads and infrastructure in a supportive mining jurisdiction and alongside a highly respected Chilean family office with government relationships.
Now that the project has the scale to sustain a long mine life, the door opens to strategic investors and off-takers.
Moving forward, LPI will continue to de-risk the project using its top tier resources at hand.
The company is currently fully funded to progress through to the completion of the pre-feasibility study.
LPI shares are trading up 20% over the past month, currently priced at $0.33.
Proactive's CEO Sessions
Martin Holland, CEO, will be presenting at the Proactive's CEO Sessions in July.
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