Dr. Waldo Perez reports
NEO LITHIUM DISCOVERS HIGH GRADE AND LOW IMPURITY SALAR AND BRINE RESERVOIR COMPLEX IN ARGENTINA AND COMMENCES TRADING ON THE TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE WITH TICKER NLC
Neo Lithium Corp., a company with 100-per-cent ownership of the Tres Quebradas lithium project (3Q project), a newly discovered and unique lithium salar and brine reservoir complex in Catamarca province, Argentina, has commenced trading, effective July 20, 2016, under the ticker symbol NLC on the TSX Venture Exchange.
"I am extremely pleased with the strong support and confidence of our investors as they clearly see and believe in the strength and quality of the 3Q project," said Dr. Waldo Perez, president and chief executive officer of Neo Lithium. "Our team is confident that this new discovery has the potential to be a large high-grade discovery -- the brine found in an open reservoir has the right chemistry for a low-cost evaporation process, contains potash as a valuable byproduct, and lithium grades are equal or superior to most other known undeveloped projects and many producing mines."
A high-grade, low-impurity discovery
The 3Q project consists of a salar and brine reservoir complex. Brine reservoirs are open lakes filled with hypersaline high-density brine (instead of water). Brine sampling results at surface in the salar and at surface and depth in the reservoir show values comparable with and in most cases higher than current producing mines or projects in construction. The reservoirs are contiguous to larger salars that also host high-grade lithium brine at surface.
- A new high-grade and low-impurity lithium discovery in the lithium triangle;
- Located in the largest lithium-producing province of Catamarca in Argentina;
- Lithium-rich brines hosted in salars and reservoirs covering 160 square kilometres, one of the largest of the Puna Plateau;
- 100-per-cent ownership of entire salar complex;
- Fully financed to lithium carbonate preliminary economic assessment report.
The whole area registers anomalous lithium and potassium, but the northern portion of the 3Q salar and brine reservoir complex encompasses a high-grade target that extends for approximately 14 kilometres in length and 2.8 kilometres in width. The preliminary brine sampling results in the northern brine reservoir (28 in total) contained an average lithium concentration of 895 milligrams per litre and potassium of 7,694 milligrams per litre. Surface samples in the northern salar (32 in total) contained an average lithium concentration of 784 milligrams per litre and potassium of 6,796 milligrams per litre (lithium concentrations in both zones range between 400 milligrams per litre to 4,000 milligrams per litre and potassium concentrations between 5,100 milligrams per litre to 18,000 milligrams per litre).
The preliminary brine sampling results also indicate that the northern target contains remarkably low levels of critical impurities, which, when compared with lithium brine projects around the world, are among the lowest in the industry. The average magnesium/lithium ratio is between 1.58 Mg/Li in the brine reservoir to 1.87 Mg/Li in the salar, and the average sulphate/lithium ratio is between 0.46 SO4/Li in the salar to 0.67 SO4/Li in the brine reservoir. Sulphate and magnesium are critical impurities in the lithium industry because they could increase operational costs significantly, and many projects become uneconomic at high impurity levels. As a reference, no producing project in the world today has a magnesium/lithium ratio higher than seven and a sulphate/lithium ratio higher than 55.
The right location
The 3Q project is located in Catamarca, the largest lithium producing province in Argentina, in the southern end of the lithium triangle of the Puna Plateau. The area is characterized by high-altitude salt flats, some of which contain elevated lithium concentrations. The largest brine lithium mines and projects in the world are located in salars in the lithium triangle.
There are no aboriginal communities or inhabitants in the area, and the 3Q project is only 25 kilometres from the border with Chile, where the Maricunga salar is located. The Maricunga salar is another high-grade lithium brine project that is located over a highway 250 kilometres away from the Chilean port of Caldera (Copiapo). That means that with potentially minimal infrastructure improvement, 3Q could be the closest Argentinean project to a Chilean port.
The 3Q project extends for over 160 square kilometres of salars and lithium reservoirs. The northern target alone extends for over 14 kilometres by 2.8 kilometres of high-grade low-impurity brine. Only drilling will be able to determine the size of the 3Q project, but the footprint is comparable with other large lithium deposits. About one-third of the 3Q footprint is formed by a brine reservoir (that is, a lake) and two-thirds by the salar.
100-per-cent ownership of property, salar and brine complex
Neo Lithium is in a very enviable position and benefits from a 100-per-cent ownership of the entire salar complex. The ownership structure allows the company to have no boundaries and limitations concerning the timely execution of its 3Q project development strategy. The three largest producing salars in the world are all shared by two or more companies. Atacama Salar (Chile) is a shared resource between SQM and Albermarle, Hombre Muerto salar (Argentina) is shared between FMC and Galaxy, and Cauchari-Olaroz salar (Argentina) is shared between Orocobre and Lithium Americas. Other minor projects also have shared salars; the 3Q project would be one of the few cases where one company controls the whole salar.
Strong balance sheet
Neo Lithium is well financed with approximately $17.5-million in net cash to see the company through its exploration and development activities leading to a lithium carbonate PEA report, which is expected to be ready during the first half of 2018. Clarus Securities Inc., GMP Securities LP and PowerOne Capital Markets Ltd. acted as agents in completing the company's recent private placement resulting in the issuance of an aggregate of 11.7 million common shares at a price of $1 per share for total gross proceeds of $11.7-million.
"The enviable qualities of the 3Q project provide us with an outstanding opportunity to become a leader in the lithium market," noted Constantine Karayannopoulos, chairman of Neo Lithium. "We are remarkably well positioned with a strong balance sheet, an exceptional property and a precise business plan. Our board and management team bring extensive lithium industry know-how to our company, with a proven track record in global exploration, project execution, market development and capital markets."
The technical contents of this press release have been reviewed and approved by Dr. Perez, PhD, PGeo, a qualified person pursuant to National Instrument 43-101. Dr. Perez is CEO and president of the company, and is a geologist with a technical background in mineral exploration, including lithium brines.
The results for the 3Q project stated herein are based on the analysis of surface brine samples in the salar and surface and deep samples in the lake (reservoir). The reservoir was sampled using an inflatable boat with a two-litre vertical-type alpha water sampler with a 2.2-litre capacity. Vertical samples down the lake were collected every one-metre depth. Surface samples in the lake were collected in a one-kilometre-by-one-kilometre regular grid. Surface samples in the salar were collected in a one-kilometre-by-two-kilometre regular grid digging a one-metre-deep hole in the salt crust.
The brine samples collected in the field were delivered by company personnel to Andesmar Transport Company in La Rioja, in the province of Rioja. Andesmar delivered the samples by truck to ASL, an ISO 9001-2008-certified laboratory in Mendoza, Argentina. ASL used the following analytical methodologies: ICP-OES (inductively coupled plasma-optical (atomic) emission spectrometry) to quantify boron, barium, calcium, lithium, magnesium, manganese and potassium; an argentometric method to assay for chloride; a gravimetric method to analyze for sulphate; a volumetric analysis (acid/base titration) for the evaluation of alkalinity (as calcium carbonate); a gravimetric method to determine density and total dissolved solids; and a laboratory pH meter to determine pH. All analytical work is subject to a systematic and rigorous quality assurance/quality control. A reference (standard) sample was inserted into the sample stream at a frequency of approximately one in 15 samples; a field blank was inserted at a frequency of approximately one in 15 samples; and a field duplicate sample was inserted at a frequency of approximately one in 15 samples.
Additional information on sample results and estimates at 3Q are available in the company's technical report titled, "Technical report on the Tres Quebradas lithium project, Catamarca province, Argentina," with an effective date of June 6, 2016.
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