Company expects no project delays due to provincial decree identifying Lithium as strategic mineral resource
Commercial scale evaporation pond completed and filled
Construction of larger on-site lithium processing facility
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 7, 2011) - Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX:LAC) ("Lithium Americas" or the "Company"), today provided an update on its progress in the development of the Cauchari-Olaroz Lithium project in Argentina. Lithium Americas is currently working with ARA WorleyParsons to complete its preliminary economic assessment by the end of March 2011.
On March 2, 2011 the Governor of Jujuy Province, Argentina, declared lithium a strategic mineral. The declaration asserts that environmental approval of exploration and exploitation projects in the province will have to be reviewed by a committee that will include representatives from the Ministry of Production, the Argentinean Research Council, the University of Jujuy, the Provincial Parliament, the Provincial Environmental Agency and the Mining Department. Permits granted for exploration and exploitation will be reviewed after this commission is formed in 30 days.
Lithium Americas' exploration and development permit applications were approved in late 2009 and is fully permitted through final feasibility. The Company is currently working on the environmental baseline and has confirmed that the decree should not effect in the current development program at Cuchari-Olaroz, but is expected to increase the requirements for the final exploitation permit that will be requested once the final feasibility study is completed and presented to the Government as it is mandatory under the Argentinean law.
Construction of the 100 meter by 100 meter pond has been completed, including the installation of the liner and filling of the pond with brine pumped from production well PB1 on the salar (salt lake) completed earlier in the year. This large scale pond is critical to the ongoing development of the project as it will provide data to fine tune the commercial scale lithium carbonate production, as well as providing feedstock for the new lithium processing facility. The Company expects that a pond of this scale will generate process ready brine in approximately eight months.
Lithium Processing Facility
The Company has signed an agreement with SGS Canada for the completion of bench studies required to design the lithium carbonate plant and the construction of an on-site continuous lithium carbonate pilot plant to produce a 99.5 percent purity lithium carbonate. Construction is scheduled to begin in April with first production of lithium carbonate expected in the fourth quarter of 2011. Production from the facility will be used to provide industrial samples for future customers and fine tune the final mine design for the Full Feasibility Study. The Company has been producing small quantities of lithium carbonate at laboratory scale from an on-site pilot scale plant since August 2010.
The Company is also pleased to announce that it has bolstered the depth of its local management team with the addition of Mario Juarez, Mining Engineer as Operations Manager. Mr. Juarez has over 17 years of experience in mine management positions with several of the largest global mining companies with operations in Argentina including Pirquitas Mine (Silver Standard), Agua Rica Project (Yamana); Veladero Mine (Barrick Gold), Alumbrera mine (Yamana / Goldcorp / Xstrata) and Vanguardia mine (Anglo Gold).
"Lithium Americas welcomes this new government initiative as it creates needed controls on the permitting process, providing further protection of these important resources," said Dr. Waldo Perez, President & CEO of Lithium Americas. "Operationally, our team in Argentina continues to deliver results and deepen our understanding of the productive characteristics of the salar and the quality of our brine."
Lithium Americas will host booth #2523 at the 2011 PDAC International Convention in Toronto, Ontario on March 6-9. In addition, Dr. Perez will present a Company update at the PDAC Investor Exchange Forum on Tuesday March 8, 2011 at 10:40am.
John Kieley, P.Geo., is the internal Qualified Person for the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project in accordance with NI 43-101. Mr. Kieley has read and approved the contents of this news release.
About the Company
Lithium Americas Corp. is one of the largest, most advanced, lithium brine development projects in the world. The Company's principal and most advanced property comprises a significant portion of two adjacent Argentinean salt lakes, Cauchari and Olaroz, covering 64,572 hectares (ha). The company owns further 82,299 ha in other salars that are currently under explored in the Puna Plateau. The Puna Plateau is the most prolific brine reserve region globally, hosting approximately 84 percent of the world's lithium brine reserves. Lithium Americas defined in a 43-101 report a total of 5.3 million tonnes of Lithium Carbonate equivalent in Measured and Indicated resources and 2.7 million tonnes of Lithium Carbonate equivalent Inferred resources. To the best knowledge of Lithium Americas, the Cauchari-Olaroz project hosts the 3rd largest lithium brine resource in the world. Mitsubishi Corporation and Magna International are shareholders in the Company, in addition to both companies having off-take arrangements with Lithium Americas. Additional information concerning the Company's Cauchari-Olaroz project and its in situ resource can be obtained from its NI 43-101 technical report dated Monday December 6th, 2010 and filed on SEDAR.
This press release contains forward-looking statements, which can be identified by the use of statements that include words such as "could", "potential", "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "plan", "likely", "will" or other similar words or phrases. The Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligations, to update forward-looking statements, 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. Readers should review the Company's prospectus dated May 6, 2010 for a list of risks associated with the Company, and its business.
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Lithium Americas Corp.
Lithium Americas Corp.
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