Wealth Minerals begins sampling at Chile’s Laguna Verde lithium project
Wealth Minerals Ltd. (the “Company” or “Wealth”) – (TSXV: WML; OTCQB: WMLLF; SSE: WMLCL; Frankfurt: EJZN), reports that it has initiated an extensive lake-brine sampling and project evaluation program (the “Work Program”) at the Laguna Verde Lithium Project in Chile. The Project comprises 23 exploration mining concessions for a total of 2,438 hectares and is located in Region III, northern Chile, 193 km east of the regional capital city of Copiapo, adjacent to Highway 60 and 15 km west of the border with Argentina.
The Work Program (Figure 1) will include a detailed bathymetric (water depth) survey, lake-brine sampling to determine grade distribution, as well as an independent resource calculation and the preparation of a National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”) technical report. In addition, Wealth has retained Tenova Advanced Technologies (“TAT”) (a division of Tenova S.p.A.) to complete laboratory testing on the Laguna Verde lake-brine in order to develop recommendations for process design.An order of magnitude cost estimate study will be used to evaluate the capital expenditures and operating expenses for producing 20,000 ton per annum lithium carbonate equivalent (“LCE”) of LiOHH2O.
“It is extremely exciting to have initiated this comprehensive project evaluation program at Laguna Verde” stated Henk van Alphen, Wealth’s CEO, “We believe that the project offers a unique opportunity where known technologies can be applied to a comparatively less complex lithium deposit.”
A discussion of the advantages of lake-brine over conventional aquifer-brine and the details of the Company's work program are provided below.
A detailed bathymetric survey is currently underway to determine water depth at Laguna Verde and to map the lake floor in detail. Previous operators at Laguna Verde reported that the lake was up to 60m in depth with a mean depth of 33m. The bathymetric survey that Wealth has initiated will map the depth to the lake floor and the resulting data will allow the total volume of water to be accurately calculated. Note: in a conventional brine deposit, the quantity of lithium-bearing brine is estimated from drill hole data. At Laguna Verde, the quantity of water in the lake can be measured with relative accuracy because the water surface is horizontal and the third dimension can be measured with bathymetry.
Lithium Grade Distribution
Historical water sampling in Laguna Verde was completed only to a maximum depth of 15m due to technical limitations of the sampling method used. Historical resources were extrapolated to the mean depth of 33m. Wealth will complete water sampling on a 1,000m by 1,000m horizontal grid and at depth intervals of 15m below surface to the base of the lake. This work will provide a better understanding of the vertical lithium grade distribution throughout the lake, including the portion from below 15m to the maximum reported depth of 60m, which has never before been sampled. Note: in a conventional aquifer-brine deposit, lithium grade is determined by sampling drill holes. At Laguna Verde, sampling does not require drilling so the process is considerably simpler, has a lower regulatory threshold and is much less expensive.
Water Column Survey
While the sampling is being completed, Wealth will also take continuous measurements of conductivity, temperature and pH from water surface to the lake floor. Using the conductivity measurements as an example, conductivity is expected to be higher because the lake-brine will be more conductive. The collection of this data will provide qualitative information about horizontal stratification of lithium grade with depth. Note: This data can be easily and inexpensively collected in a lake setting and collection of multiple vertical profiles through the lake will provide early indications of potential lithium grade distribution vertically.
A NI 43-101 technical report dated May 5, 2010 prepared by John Hiner for Pan American Lithium Corp. (the "2010 Report"), disclosed an inferred resource of 512,960 tonnes of LCE”) and 4,223,123 tonnes of potassium chloride equivalent (the “Historical Resource”). However, as noted above, the depth of historical water sampling was limited to 15m below the lake surface and limited the magnitude of resource estimation, which was extrapolated to only 33m.
The current Work Program is being carried out in part to verify and expand upon the Historical Resource and the Company has retained the author of the 2010 Report to conduct a site visit to the Project and to supervise a portion of the bathymetric and water sampling program. Note: in a conventional brine project, the resource estimate must successfully evaluate aquifer geometry, specific yield of the aquifer, as well as permeability, hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity, storativity, and dispersivity. At Laguna Verde, these aspects do not need to be quantified.
The Historical Resource is considered relevant because it was completed using standards consistent with CIM guidelines in 2010 as such guidelines related to lithium brine resource estimation. The Company cautions that the Historical Resource is historical in nature and the Company is not treating such resources as a current mineral resource under NI 43-101. Investors are further cautioned that a qualified person has not yet completed sufficient work to be able to verify the Historical Resource as a current mineral resource, and therefore it should not be relied upon.
NI 43-101 Technical Report
An independent qualified person (as such term is defined in NI 43-101) will compile an NI 43-101 technical report, which will include resource estimates as well as a detailed description of the Laguna Verde Project.
TAT has developed, with its affiliates, a comprehensive liquid-liquid solvent extraction process for the recovery and production of lithium (LiSX™). Additionally TAT has developed a process for removal of calcium and magnesium using membranes (LiP™), and an electrolysis process for the production of highly pure LiOH (LiEL™).
The proposed laboratory process testing of the Laguna Verde lake-brine is planned as two stages:
- Stage I.LiP™ – removal of alkaline earth elements will be evaluated using the membrane process.
- Stage II.LiSX™ – lithium recovery from the resulting brine will be tested.
TAT deliverables will include results of laboratory tests with analytical data including general composition of the pretreated and waste streams for the LiP™ (from lab scale tests) as well as product and raffinate analysis for the LiSX™. Reagent and energy consumption for LiSX™ and LiP™ respectively will also be quantified and recommendations will be made for a scaled-up mini-pilot configuration.
Capital and Operating Estimates
TAT will complete an order of magnitude cost estimate study for the Laguna Verde Project, which will evaluate the capital expenditures (“CAPEX”) and operating expenses (“OPEX”) for producing 20,000 ton per annum LCE of LiOHH₂O.
CAPEX will be estimated using TAT’s internal database of recent pricing for similar sized equipment. The OPEX estimate will be based on preliminary consumables list and internal database prices of SX reagents. Deliverables will include preliminary design criteria, block diagram, general equipment layout, equipment list as well as the CAPEX and OPEX estimates.
Mr. Keith Henderson, PGeo, is a qualified person as defined by NI 43-101. Mr. Henderson has reviewed the scientific and technical information that forms the basis of this news release and has approved the disclosure herein.
About Wealth Minerals Ltd.
Wealth is a mineral resource company with interests in Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile. The Company’s main focus is the acquisition of lithium projects in South America. To date, the Company has positioned itself to develop the Aguas Calientes Norte, Pujsa and Quisquiro Salars in Chile (the Trinity Project), as well as to work alongside existing producers in the prolific Atacama Salar, in addition to its recently announced Laguna Verde lithium project acquisition. The Company continues to aggressively pursue new acquisitions in the region. Lithium market dynamics and a rapidly increasing metal price are the result of profound structural issues with the industry meeting anticipated future demand. Wealth is positioning itself to be a major beneficiary of this future mismatch of supply and demand. The Company also maintains and continues to evaluate a portfolio of precious and base metal exploration-stage projects.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements and forward-looking information (collectively, “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable Canadian and U.S. securities legislation, including the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein including, without limitation, statements regarding the anticipated content, commencement, timing and cost of the Work Program and otherwise, anticipated exploration program results from the Work Program, the discovery and delineation of mineral deposits/resources/reserves on the Project, the anticipated business plans and timing of future activities of the Company and the Company’s expectation that it will be able to enter into agreements to acquire interests in additional mineral properties, are forward-looking statements.Although the Company believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as: “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “estimate”, “postulate” and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events.The Company cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, issues raised during the Company's due diligence on the Project, operating and technical difficulties in connection with mineral exploration and development activities, actual results of exploration activities, including the Work Program, the estimation or realization of mineral reserves and mineral resources, the timing and amount of estimated future production, the costs of production, capital expenditures, the costs and timing of the development of new deposits, requirements for additional capital, future prices of lithium and precious metals, changes in general economic conditions, changes in the financial markets and in the demand and market price for commodities, labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry, delays in obtaining governmental approvals, permits or financing or in the completion of development or construction activities, changes in laws, regulations and policies affecting mining operations, title disputes, the inability of the Company to obtain any necessary permits, consents or authorizations required, including TSX-V acceptance of any current or future property acquisitions or financings and other planned activities, the timing and possible outcome of any pending litigation, environmental issues and liabilities, and risks related to joint venture operations, and other risks and uncertainties disclosed in the Company’s latest interim Management Discussion and Analysis and filed with certain securities commissions in Canada.All of the Company’s Canadian public disclosure filings may be accessed via www.sedar.com and readers are urged to review these materials, including the technical reports filed with respect to the Company’s mineral properties.
Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.The Company undertakes no obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements in this news release or incorporated by reference herein, except as otherwise required by law.