Global electric vehicle (EV) sales increased by 41 percent in 2020, a year marked by a 6 percent decline in the sales of vehicles overall. The overall number of EVs on the road is estimated to be around 10 million vehicles and is expected to reach 145 million by 2030. The rapid adoption of EVs around the world has propelled manufacturers to continue advancing battery technology and deploying charging networks, both of which require raw materials to manufacture.
Battery capacity and size are both increasing dramatically due to new technological advancements. Along with the overall increased demand for EVs, new battery technology has led to a ramped-up demand for the materials used in manufacturing them. In 2019, the material demand for batteries was 17 kt per year for lithium, which is projected to reach 185 kt per year by 2030. This dramatic explosion in demand represents a strong opportunity for businesses and investors alike.
Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI) is a pure-play lithium mining company focused on developing high-grade lithium mines in Chile and Australia. LPIs flagship project, The Blanco project, is located in Maricunga, Chile, and is the highest quality pre-production lithium brine project in South America. Combined with two lithium projects in Western Australia, LPI is set to produce high-quality lithium throughout three projects. Since Chile and Australia are the top two producers of lithium, LPI is poised for success.
The Maricunga project, also known as the Blanco project, was fully permitted by the Chilean authorities in 2020 after undergoing an environmental study. The project has been previously developed by Tier-1 companies, such as GEO, Stantec and Worley. Furthermore, a strategic alliance with Mitsui allows for increased funding options and offloads some of the responsibility for process engineering to Mitsui. An in-depth feasibility study shows that the facilities have been designed to mine lithium at a rate of 20,000 TPY by processing concentrated lithium brine.
LPI’s Australian projects represent an additional opportunity for growth. Australia has a strong battery-metals market with lithium being the most produced metal in the country. The Pilbara project and Greenbushes project both contain sources of high-quality lithium rock chip. While both projects are currently in the exploration and development stages, they represent an opportunity for additional growth for the company and its investors.
In May 2021, LPI announced a Share Purchase Agreement with Vertex Lithium Corporation to acquire LPIs 70 percent share in a lithium exploration property within Argentina. LIP is now fully released from any exploration spending obligations that were in effect by Argentinean regulations. Additionally, the sale moves the cost of simply holding an asset in a foreign jurisdiction. LPI received a cash payment of US$700,000 for the sale with an additional C$250,000 worth of ordinary Vertex shares. This deal has streamlined LPIs project portfolio while also allowing LPI to fully capitalize on the value of the project.
- Lithium Power International is a pure-play lithium mining company with three lithium projects located in Chile and Australia
- The Maricunga project, LPI’s flagship, has the potential to become Chile’s next high-grade lithium mine as it is located on Chile’s largest lithium brine deposit
- Selling a mining project in Argentina allowed the company to streamline its portfolio while also generating revenue
- Demand for lithium is already skyrocketing and is expected to exponentially increase alongside EV sales and the adoption of other green technologies
Located in the Atacama Region of Chile, this project is located within the “Lithium Triangle” and is home to high-quality lithium brine deposits. The Maricunga project is the most advanced mining project in Chile, other than the mine expansions by Albemarle and SQM. It is located adjacent to the Chile-Argentina Highway 31 and has a 23kV power line that connects the project to the Chilean power grid. LPI has 51% ownership of the project and it is fully funded and in the development stage.
A Preliminary Assessment and Economic Evaluation report of the Atacama Region illustrates that in-depth explorative drilling that has already been conducted throughout the region has verified the presence of high-grade lithium brine. The project is the second highest-grade lithium brine resource in South America at 1,167 mg/l lithium and 8,500 mg/l potassium.
A positive Definitive Feasibility Study for Maricunga was completed in January 2019 and supports 20,000 tonnes per annum production of LCE over 20 years. According to the DFS, the Project NPV (leveraged basis) of US$1.302B before tax at 8 percent discount rate, providing an IRR of 29.8 percent and a 3.5 year payback. The DFS also stated that the operating cost places Maricunga among the most efficient producers.
Lithium Power is aiming to begin construction at the end of Q3 2021.
Located in Western Australia, LPI has recommenced exploration of this project in 2021 following a disruption due to COVID-19. The area contains a 20km strike of high prospective greenstone. The lithium rockship in this region is rated at 495 ppm lithium with soil sampling levels of 515 ppm.
This project is located in Western Australia and covers 315 square kilometers adjacent to the Greenbushes mine block that is owned by Talison. The project tenement has an approved program of works along with an environmental management plan. The laterite sampling conducted in the project’s area confirmed the existence of lithium.
David Hannon - Chairman
David Hannon is the founding shareholder of LPI, and brings over 30 years’ experience in the finance industry, with a focus on property, mining and international investing. He served as the Founding Director and former Chairman of Atlas Iron Ltd., which grew to over A$3B market capitalization. Hannon has operated a private Investment group, Chifley Investor Group Pty Limited, for over 15 years.
Andrew G Phillips - Chief Financial Officer
Andrew Phillips has over 25 years’ commercial, financial and corporate governance experience internationally. Phillips previously held senior management and board positions in several public and multinational companies including Aristocrat, Allianz, Hoya Lens and Sequoia Financial Group and has additional board experience in the small-cap resources sector. Phillips is also the CFO and Company Secretary of LPI.
Russell C Barwick - Non-Executive Director
Russel Barwick is a mining engineer with over 43 years’ experience globally, and strong development, operating and corporate background, particularly in Latin America. He was the former COO of Wheaton River, Goldcorp, when the quickly evolving company grew from a market capitalization of several hundred million dollars to C$22 billion, and became the third-largest gold company in the world by market capitalization. He previously served as CEO of Newcrest Mining and was with Placer Dome Inc. for 16 years.
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