SOURCE: Li3 Energy, Inc.

Li3 Energy, Inc.

April 20, 2012 09:00 ET

Li3 Energy Reports Positive Measured Resource Report

Maricunga Project to Advance to Feasibility Stage

SANTIAGO, CHILE--(Marketwire - Apr 20, 2012) - Li3 Energy, Inc., (OTCBB: LIEG) ("Li3," "Li3 Energy" or the "Company"), a U.S.-listed and South America-based global exploration company in the lithium and minerals sector, is pleased to announce the findings of the NI 43-101 Technical Report. The report estimates significant Measured and Inferred Resources on the Company's flagship Maricunga property.

The completion of the NI 43-101 Technical Report summarizes and validates the results of Li3's $8 million Phase One Exploration and Development Program on its Maricunga Project in Chile, completed in December 2011. The report was authored Mr. Don Hains, P.Geo and Frederik Reidel, CPG, both "Qualified Persons" (QPs), who are independent of Li3 as such terms are defined by Canadian Instrument NI 43-101. While Li3 is not a Canada-listed issuer, among other things, the provisions of Li3's agreement with POSCO Canada refers to the Canadian standards for certain milestones. U.S. investors are urged to read below under the caption "Cautionary Note to U.S. Investors."

The key highlights of the Compliant Technical Report include:

  • Further exploration work and expenditures are warranted to advance the Maricunga Project to the Feasibility Stage;
  • The property holds significant potential for development as a source of lithium, potassium and boron;
  • Exploration work indicates that the brines in the property are enriched in lithium and potassium and that the brine has a Mg/Li ratio permitting lithium recovery;
  • Lithium and potassium in situ resources are summarized below:
Summary of Mineral Resources - April 9, 2012
Lithium Potassium
Measured Inferred Measured Inferred
Area (km2) 14.38 7.06 14.38 7.06
Depth interval (m) 0-150 150-180 0-150 150-180
Aquifer volume (km3) 2.157 0.212 2.157 0.212
Avg grade (g/m3) 50 50 360 360
Lithium metal (t) 107,850 10,590
Potassium (t) 776,250 76,320

Notes:

1. Canadian Institute of Mining definitions were followed for Mineral Resources.
2. The Qualified Persons for this Mineral Resource estimate are Donald H. Hains, P.Geo and Frederik Reidel, CPG.
3. No cut-off values have been applied to the resource estimate
4. Numbers may not add due to rounding.

  • Expressed as compounds resources are estimated at:
Lithium Carbonate (t) Potash (t)
Measured Inferred Total Measured Inferred Total
603,960 59,304 663,264
1,482,638 145,771 1,628,409
  • It is believed that through the application of proprietary technology developed by Li3's strategic partners, lithium recovery from the Maricunga brine can be significantly enhanced and may increase from the typical 45% to over 70% of the contained lithium in the recovered brine:

The analysis of brine chemistry and laboratory testing at the University of Antofagasta indicates that lithium carbonate and potash can be economically recovered utilizing conventional technology. Li3 believes that using conventional production methods (50%), the company would achieve 300,000 tons of Recoverable Lithium Carbonate sufficient for a 20-year mine life at a rate of 15,000 tons per year of Lithium Carbonate production. A process flow-sheet has been developed for this conventional technology as Li3's "base case" process by Process and Environmental Consultancy of La Serna, Chile. The extraction yield of the base case process from well brine to lithium carbonate is estimated to be 50%.

An improved process is being developed through the application of proprietary technology from R3 Fusion which utilizes mechanical evaporator/crystallization processes to potentially improve the extraction yield from well brine to lithium carbonate to 65%. The following table presents the potential Recoverable Lithium Carbonate based on the information presented in Table 1.2 and 1.3 of the NI 43-101 Report:

Potentially Recoverable Resource Estimate Based on Process Technology Selection
Yield Lithium Carbonate (MT)
Conventional Process 50% 331,632
Li3 - R3 Process 65% 431,122
POSCO Process 70%+ 464,284

Li3 is now focused on securing the committed second tranche of funding from its strategic partner POSCO Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of POSCO. Li3 has submitted the findings of the NI-43-101 Technical Report to POSCO Canada, fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the Stock Purchase Agreement as a condition to POSCO Canada's providing the $10 million funding. Li3 is also initiating the necessary development work to begin to advance this asset through the Feasibility Stage, as well as the acquisition and development of highly synergistic properties that would increase the Company's land foot-print and further support the development of the Maricunga Project.

Tom Currin, COO of Li3 Energy, stated: "The findings of the technical report support our continued belief in the strength of Maricunga. Achieving this major milestone is testament to the dedication, commitment, and continued hard work of all our contractors, consultants, employees, Board of Directors, and advisors. We are now well underway to develop this world class asset."

Li3 is also pleased to announce that Mr. Marc S. Lubow has been named, Executive Vice President. In this capacity, Mr. Lubow strengthens the current Li3 management team having over 20 years of experience across multiple industries in business development, corporate communications, investor relations, finance, transaction negotiation and execution, and strategic and financial planning. Prior to joining Li3, from 2004 - 2012, Mr. Lubow was an independent consultant providing strategic counsel to numerous companies both public and private. From 1992 - 2004, Mr. Lubow was a Principal, Banker and Partner with a Florida based investment banking firm providing clients with various financial products and services.

Luis Saenz, CEO of Li3 Energy, stated: "With the findings of the NI 43-101 Report now complete, Li3 can focus on advancing Maricunga to the Feasibility Stage, completing the Preliminary Economic Assessment, obtaining the environmental impact studies, the permits necessary for our test facility and demonstration plant, and advancing our technology initiatives. Li3 looks forward to the future and our goals of unlocking the full potential of Maricunga, commercializing the asset and creating value for all of our stakeholders and strategic partners. We are also delighted to have Mr. Lubow join Li3. He has been providing us valuable counsel over the past year and a half, and we are pleased to welcome him to our management team."

Li3 cautions investors that while the company is very optimistic about the findings of the NI 43-101 and its belief that it has satisfied the conditions to POSCO Canada's $10 million second tranche funding, there can be no assurances that the Company will obtain such funding on a timely basis or at all. Li3 will post the NI 43-101 report in its entirety on its website www.li3energy.com. This press release has been prepared under the supervision of Mr. Don Hains (P.Geo.) and Mr. Frederik Reidel, CPG., both of whom are independent of the Company and a "Qualified Person" (as such term is defined in National Instrument 43-101). Mr. Hains and Mr. Reidel have verified the technical data disclosed in this press release."

Cautionary Note to U.S. Investors

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission permits U.S. mining companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only those mineral deposits that a company can economically and legally extract or produce. We use certain terms in this press release, such as "measured," "indicated," and "inferred" "resources," which the SEC guidelines strictly prohibit U.S. registered companies from including in their filings with the SEC. U.S. Investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our most recent Form 10-K and Form 10-Q which may be secured from us, or accessed from the SEC website at http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.

About Li3 Energy, Inc.

Li3 Energy, Inc. is an exploration stage public company in the lithium mining and energy sector. Li3 aims to acquire, develop and commercialize a significant portfolio of lithium brine deposits in the Americas. With its controlling interest in its Maricunga Project, Li3's goals are to: a) support the global implementation of clean and green energy initiatives; b) meet growing lithium market demand; and c) become a mid-tier, low cost supplier of lithium, potassium nitrate, iodine and other strategic minerals, serving global clients in the energy, fertilizer and specialty chemical industries. Additional information regarding the Company can be found in our recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") as well as the information maintained on our website www.li3energy.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

Any statements contained herein which are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements identified by or containing words like "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "estimates," "projects," "potential," "target," "goal," "plans," "objective," "should", or similar expressions. The Company gives no assurances the assumptions upon which such forward-looking statements are based will prove correct. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions, and are based on information currently available to us. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed herein due to many factors, including, without limitation: successful completion of the POSCO pilot/demonstration plant and validation of the technology; issuance of necessary government consents; the Chilean government's proposed lithium exploitation initiatives; results of due diligence and whether the Company is able successfully to negotiate any proposed acquisition; initial exploration results; satisfaction of conditions precedent to POSCAN's additional investment; the Company's ability to raise additional capital for exploration; development and commercialization of the Company's projects; future findings and economic assessment reports; the Company's ability to identify appropriate corporate acquisition or joint venture opportunities in the lithium mining sector and to establish appropriate technical and managerial infrastructure; political stability in countries in which we operate; and lithium prices. For further information about risks faced by the Company, and its Maricunga Project, see the "Risk Factors" section of the Company's Form S-1/A, filed with the SEC on March 6th, 2012. The Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect events or circumstances which arise after the date of this release.

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Li3 Energy, Inc.
    Luis Saenz
    CEO
    Marchant Pereira 150 Oficina 803
    Providencia, Santiago - Chile
    Email Contact

    Li3 Energy Inc.
    Marc S. Lubow
    Executive Vice President
    (904) 645 - 9549
    Email Contact