Lithium Power International Limited has provided exciting updates from the company’s flagship Maricunga lithium brine project.
Chile is now expected to release its national lithium policy (NLP) before the end of April. This policy is critical to establishing the parameters to expand the nation’s world-scale lithium mining sector. It is understood that the Mining Minister, Marcela Hernando, the Finance Minister, Mario Marcel, and the Economy Minister, Nicolas Grau, strongly support the move because of the expected boost to the nation’s economy via joint public-private industry collaborations. LPI expects to play a significant role in the future of the Chilean lithium industry through its plans to develop the low-cost, high-grade Maricunga lithium brine project.
How will the NLP support the Maricunga project?
The long-anticipated Government announcement is intended to generate significant investment in the lithium industry, including from global participants. Demand for the battery mineral is growing strongly as clean energy replaces carbon-based fuels. Chile wants to retain its position as a leading world producer of lithium at a time of rapid growth elsewhere, including Australia. Chile has very large lithium reserves for further production expansion, including LPI’s Stage One of its Maricunga lithium brine project, the largest, most advanced and fully permitted pre-construction lithium project in Chile.
The Government’s comprehensive plan is the result of extensive consideration and consultation. The plan deals with technological transitions that need to be undertaken, the formation of new R&D government bodies and a national lithium company, something that Chilean President Boric has promoted. It is also expected to include clarifications on tax regimes that will apply to lithium companies under different circumstances. The Government has said that legislative processes to establish a state-owned company would be submitted to Congress once the policy was released. Existing state-owned mining companies, Enami and Codelco, will operate in their place until the new National Lithium Company (NLP) is created.
LPI understands that it will be recognised as Chile’s next lithium producer through its wholly-owned subsidiary Minera Salar Blanco (MSB). Executives have been active in the lead-up to the release of the NLP, engaging with the Mining Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Invest Chile and indigenous communities. LPI expects to continue working with the public sector to participate jointly in developing the lithium industry in Chile.
LPI’s chief executive officer Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro said: “This will be a very welcome outcome. It is expected to create certainty for the substantial lithium developments that are now expected to be developed in Chile. The Government has consulted with a broad range of interests to ensure that the country has an effective regulatory framework. The Maricunga project will be part of this process, with its exceptional ESG profile setting new standards for social relationships. It will be one of the first lithium operations to achieve carbon neutrality.”
Maricunga project financing
Financing activities are ongoing with financial institutions and potential strategic partners/off-takers regarding funding for the Maricunga project. Initial LOI’s for debt financing has been received, covering, in some cases, up to 70% of capital expenditure. Along with its financial advisor, Canaccord, LPI will continue to evaluate different financial alternatives during this process, particularly following announcements by the US, which recently adopted a new policy that considers Chile as a friendly country in which to do business.
LPI’s future plans
Activities at Maricunga have continued, intending to prepare the company for the start of construction once project financing is completed by the end of the year. The company is working closely with its ESG advisor and its auditor Deloitte on the certifications for those involved with the project, including the indigenous communities. The project is aggressively aiming to be the first carbon-neutral lithium producer in Chile.
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