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Codelco joins LPI at Maricunga 

Chile state-owned copper miner Codelco has signed a non-binding agreement with Lithium Power International’s 51%-owned Minera Salar Blanco that could lead to development of the Maricunga Salar into a world-class lithium brine producer.
Codelco joins LPI at Maricunga  Codelco joins LPI at Maricunga  Codelco joins LPI at Maricunga  Codelco joins LPI at Maricunga  Codelco joins LPI at Maricunga 

Maricunga in Chile

Staff reporter

The pair is looking to negotiate a definitive agreement over the coming months that will frame creation of a new Chile company under a public-private alliance model, which would allow it to become the third lithium producer in Chile.
 
The agreement will incorporate Codelco's contracts and key permits covering the entire salar with LPI's interests and could help fast-track the development.
 
LPI hopes to finalise its environmental impact assessment before the end of the year.
 
The Maricunga lithium brine project is described by LPI as "Chile's highest grade and most advanced lithium project outside the Salar de Atacama". A definitive feasibility study completed in January outlined a 20,000 tonne per annum project over 20 years generating a pre-tax NPV of US$1.3 billion, with construction following final permitting next year. LPI's maiden reserve for Maricunga totalled 742,000t LCE.
 
First production is planned for 2023 at a cost of $563 million.
 
The addition of Codelco into LPI's lithium product brings not only a cashed-up miner with billions in annual revenue to an advanced production opportunity, but also offers the potential to scale up production of lithium carbonate and expand the resource.  
 
LPI had A$15.3 million at the start of the quarter. 
 
Shares in the junior were 34c at yesterday's close, just shy of its peak of 36c. It was capitalised at $89 million.