Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro. Image courtesy of Lithium Power International.
Lithium Power International Limited has announced that its joint venture company, Minera Salar Blanco S.A. (MSB), has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (the MOU) with the Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co., Ltd., (Mitsui) to set up a strategic alliance to advance the development of the Maricunga Project (the Project).
The Maricunga Lithium Brine Project is located approximately 170 kilometres northeast of Copiapo and 250 kilometres from the Port of Caldera.
A Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) was completed for Maricunga in January 2019. The DFS outlines that Maricunga supports the production of 20,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate over 20 years.
The MOU intends to create a partnership on the Project. The MOU also addresses the development of the Chilean lithium industry, by partnering to introduce other leading-edge efficient and environmentally friendly technologies for processing.
The strategic alliance includes potential off-take and funding rights for the Stage One of the Project; potential participation, off-take, and funding rights for future expansions of the Project, and further strategic collaboration for new developments in Chile, based on new technology related to direct lithium extraction (the DLE) currently being studied and tested.
In particular, the parties aim to achieve the following goals as a result of such a strategic alliance:
- Off-Take Rights – Mitsui will have the right to purchase up to 15,000 tonnes annually of high purity lithium carbonate battery grade production from the Stage One of the Project for 10 years, extendable for 2 consecutive 5 years periods. The parties will agree on a price structure and terms of the off-take in a later stage, in order to be sufficiently bankable to support’s MSB’s debt funding requirements. The parties will leverage Mitsui’s considerable global logistics and battery materials marketing expertise on the distribution of the products.
- Right to Participate in Funding of Maricunga’s Stage One – Mitsui will have the right to participate directly in the funding of the Stage One of the Project. The parties will consider an optimised funding structure through a combination of equity-like and debt-like options.
- Participation in Future Expansions, Off-Take and Funding Rights – Subject to the parties agreeing to a financing proposal where Mitsui provides a relevant portion of the necessary funding of the capital expenditures required for the future expansion of the Project, Mitsui will have the first option for an off-take agreement to purchase a relevant portion of the future production of the expansion. MSB will use its best efforts to utilise new technology related to the DLE currently being studied and tested by Mitsui’s technical partners.
- Further Strategic Collaboration – MSB will collaborate with Mitsui for the development of other lithium related businesses in the country by introducing efficient and environmentally friendly processing technologies. In this context, MSB will commit to collaborating with Mitsui and its technical partner to facilitate the development and testing of the DLE technology at the Maricunga Salar and provide a broader platform for the promotion of this technology.
Terms and details of the definitive agreements will be finalised after completion of all necessary due diligence and transaction structuring and subject to each party’s internal approval.
In commenting on the news, Lithium Power International’s Chief Executive Officer, Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro, said: “We are incredibly pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial MOU with Mitsui. The MOU is comprehensive, and it sets a framework for the Stage One of the Project development to proceed with the backing of a world-renowned partner. We look forward to finalising the definitive agreements with Mitsui and working with them on mutually beneficial lithium projects and positive outcomes for the Chilean lithium industry.”