Argentinian lithium-potash project sold for $5 million

Canadian merchant bank Aberdeen International (TSX:AAB) has purchased a lithium-potash project in Argentina through a share purchase agreement valued at CAD$5 million.

The deal, disclosed in a press release issued on December 29, has Aberdeen purchasing all the shares of Potasio y Litio de Argentina SA (PLASA), which owns the Diablillos lithium-potash project. Aberdeen will pay Rodinia Lithium Inc.(Rodinia) in two lump payments, $3 million to be paid on the deal closing and $2 million six months afterward. In return, Rodinia retains a 2 percent net smelter royalty, of which Aberdeen will have the option to purchase half for $2 million, up to two years following the close of the deal.

The acquisition was the second major investment in 2015 for Aberdeen, whose portfolio includes investments in over 20 companies in the iron ore, base metals, agricultural and precious metals sectors.

"While historical studies have suggested Diablillos will have very low costs and a high return in the current lithium price environment, perhaps more importantly, the project is scalable. This will allow Aberdeen to "right-size" the project based on the availability of capital," said Aberdeen CEO David Stein, adding the company is looking to move into production quicker than previously expected.

The Diablillos lithium-potash brine project which covers over 95 percent of the Salar de Diablillos located in Salta, Argentina, is comprised of 32 mining claims covering approximately 8,156 hectares.

The latest resource statement from 2011 contains a recoverable inferred brine resource of 2.8 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent from an in-situ inferred brine resource of 4.9 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent. The project also contains a recoverable inferred brine resource of 11.2 million tonnes potassium chloride equivalent from an in-situ inferred brine resource of 19.83 million tonnes potassium chloride equivalent.

The preliminary economic assessment outlines an operation producing 15,000 tonnes lithium carbonate per year and approximately 51,000 tonnes of potash (KCI) annually, with the option to increase production to 25,000 tonnes lithium carbonate and 85,000 tonnes potash per year.

To date, over CAD$19 million has been spent on the project, including extensive exploration and definition drilling, pump tests, seismic & gravity geophysical surveys, basin and solute transport models, all of which collectively account for the bulk of work towards an updated pre-feasibility or feasibility study on the project which is still to be completed, according to Aberdeen.

Following the deal, Aberdeen's stock price rose 3.33 percent to 15.5 cents a share on the Toronto main board on December 31.