Lithium Americas Corp.

Lithium Americas Corp.

May 04, 2011 08:15 ET

Lithium Americas Files NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment Technical Report and Provides Key Milestones to Definitive Feasibility

Expands Land Position in Cauchari Salar

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 4, 2011) - Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX:LAC) ("Lithium Americas" or the "Company"), announced today that the NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") for its Cauchari-Olaroz lithium brine project in Argentina, prepared by the independent engineering firm, ARA WorleyParsons ("ARAWP"), has been filed on SEDAR ( and is also available on the Company's website.

Key results of the PEA were previously announced on April 18, 2011. A summary of the base case financials are provided in the table below:

Preliminary Economic Assessment Highlights – Base Case
Pre-Tax Net Present Value ("NPV") @ 8% Discount RateUS$983 million
Pre-Tax Internal Rate of Return ("IRR")30%
Cash Operating Costs (per tonne of Lithium Carbonate)US$1,434
Initial Capital (for 20,000 tonnes per annum of Lithium Carbonate)US$217 million
Total Capital (for 40,000 tonnes per annum of Lithium Carbonate)US$399 million
Stage 1 Revenue Generation CommencesYear 2014
Stage 2 Revenue Generation CommencesYear 2018

"With the positive results and recommendations of the PEA in hand, we are aggressively pursuing our goal of developing a low-cost, long-life operation," stated Dr. Waldo Perez, President and CEO of Lithium Americas. "Having assembled a world class team with a significant amount of experience in lithium processing, we continue to demonstrate leadership in the emerging lithium brine industry and deliver on our milestones."

Property Expansion

The Company is also pleased to announce that it has signed an option to acquire a total of 13,897 hectares ("ha") in Cauchari from a private holder. This transaction increases the Company's land package in its principal property to 82,498 ha, giving Lithium Americas control of a large majority of the Cauchari salt lake and a portion of the Olaroz salt lake.

Key Milestones

Key milestones that will drive the commercialization of the Company's Cauchari project, the third largest known lithium brine deposit in the world, include:

  • Pilot Scale Facility (Q3 2011): The Company is working with SGS Lakefield (Canada) on the design of an on‐site continuous lithium carbonate pilot plant to produce a 99.5 percent purity lithium carbonate. The plant will be pre-fabricated in Canada and assembled at the Lithium Americas' facility at the Cauchari salar. The plant will be fed from the Company's 1 ha industrial scale pond, which was completed and filled from a production well in the first quarter of 2011.
  • On-site Industrial Scale Lithium Production (Q4 2011): First production of industrial scale lithium carbonate is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011. Production from the pilot scale facility will be used to provide industrial samples for future customers and fine tune the final mine design for the Definitive Feasibility Study. The Company has been producing small quantities of lithium carbonate at laboratory scale on‐site since August 2010.
  • Hydrology Program (Q3 2011): Pump tests have begun utilizing production wells PB1 and PB4, which were drilled to a depth of 300 meters ("m"). The 10-inch diameter wells have approximately 100 m of screen down hole which intersects two productive units in the salar. Monitoring wells located at various distances from the pumping wells measure the hydraulic response to pumping. Initial tests yielded 4 litres per second ('l/s") in the massive sodium chloride unit and 20 l/s in the sand units. These two units are considered to have highly contrasting hydraulic properties, which will provide an early indication of the ranges that are expected to be found in the salar. These initial results are highly encouraging and show that the brine can be extracted at commercial rates from the salar. Long term tests will continue on 4 more wells to be drilled and tested over the next 6 months.
  • Reserve Calculation (Q4 2011): The results from the ongoing hydrology tests will be used to estimate the extractable brine in the salar and upgrade the Company's NI 43-101 measured and indicated resource into a proven and probable reserve.
  • Definitive Feasibility Study (Q1 2012): The Company expects to complete a definitive feasibility study by the end of Q1 2012. With this report in place, the Company will have all the necessary financial and production parameters verified to make a production construction decision.

Qualified Person

Roger Kelley, Chemical Engineer registered as a Fellow with the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy is the independent qualified person signing the report for ARA WorleyParsons and has reviewed and approved this press release.

About the Company

Lithium Americas is developing one of the world's largest and lowest cost lithium operations. The Company's principal property comprises a significant portion of two adjacent Argentinean salt lakes, Cauchari and Olaroz, covering 82,498 hectares in the "Lithium Triangle" region of South America. This region contains over 80% of the world's lithium brine reserves. To the best knowledge of Lithium Americas, the Company's principal property hosts the 3rd largest lithium brine resource in the world. The Company's recently completed Preliminary Economic Assessment identifies a pre-tax NPV of US$983Million (8% discount), and operating expenses which are one of the lowest in the industry. Mitsubishi Corporation and Magna International are shareholders in the Company, in addition to both companies having off-take arrangements with Lithium Americas.

Cautionary Note and Forward-looking statements

The PEA was prepared to broadly quantify the Cauchari project's capital and operating cost parameters and to provide guidance on the type and scale of future project engineering and development work that will be needed to ultimately define the project's likelihood of a positive feasibility determination and optimal production rate. It was not prepared to be used as a valuation of the project nor should it be considered to be a final feasibility study on which a commercial production decision could be made as mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The capital and operating cost estimates which were used have been developed only to an approximate order of magnitude based on generally understood capital cost to production level relationships, and although they are based on engineering studies, these are preliminary so the ultimate costs may vary widely from the amounts set out in the PEA. This could materially adversely impact the projected economics of the project. As is normal at this stage of a project, data in some areas was incomplete and estimates were developed based solely on the expertise of the Company's employees and consultants. At this level of engineering, the criteria, methods and estimates are preliminary and result in a high level of subjective judgment being employed. There can be no assurance that the potential results contained in the PEA will be realized.

This press release contains forward looking statements, which can be identified by the use of statements that includewords such as "developing", "estimate", "could", "potential", "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "plan", "likely", "will" or other similarwords or phrases. Forward-looking statements express, as at the date of this press release, the Company's plans, estimates, forecasts, projections, expectations, or beliefs as to future events or results. Forward-looking statements are based on certain assumptions, including the key assumptions and parameters on which such estimates are based, involve risks and uncertainties and there can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate. Therefore, actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Factors that could cause results or events to differ materially from current expectations expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, include, but are not limited to, possible variations in mineral resources, grade or recovery rates, lithium prices, operating or capital costs; availability of sufficient financing to fund planned or further required work in a timely manner and on acceptable terms; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; failure of equipment or processes to operate as anticipated or other unanticipated difficulties or interruptions; political, community relations, regulatory, environmental and other risks of the mining industry and other risks more fully described in the Company's prospectus dated May 6, 2010 and its most recent management's discussion and analysis available on SEDAR. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results to be materially different from those planned, estimated, forecasted, projected or expected. The Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligations, to update forward-lookingstatements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by applicable securities laws. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward looking statements.

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