Chile government approves Bearing Lithium’s EIA

The Maricunga lithium project sits on its namesake salt flat, Chile’s second-largest in terms of reserves. (Image by SergeJF, Wikimedia Commons).

After asking for more time to conduct a thorough review, the Chilean Government’s Central Environmental Committee approved the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Maricunga lithium project.

In a press release, Bearing Lithium (TSXV: BRZ) said that its joint venture company, Minera Salar Blanco S.A., (MSB) received the approval after having submitted the necessary documentation back in 2018. Bearing holds an 18% interest in MSB, along with Lithium Power International (ASX: LPI) at 51% and a private Chilean company at 31%.

The Maricunga project is located in the Atacama Region of northern Chile

“This is one of the few EIAs approved in Chile during recent years and it will enable MSB to become the third significant lithium operation in the country with an anticipated 20,000 tonnes annual production for an estimated capital investment of $563 million,” the media brief states.

According to Bearing, the EIA process involved in-depth data gathering, a variety of environmental and engineering studies and monitoring campaigns. It resulted in an 11,400-page document, which included complete environmental baseline studies, hydrological and hydrogeological modelling, human, archaeological and fauna and flora characterisation, and impact evaluation.

The assessment also included a lengthy process of social engagement with the Colla indigenous communities that live in the area surrounding the project.

“We are confident that the subsequent commencement of the construction will generate a positive impact both for the local communities and the country,” Minera Salar Blanco’s CEO, Cristóbal Garcia-Huidobro, said. “Discussions with a number of international financial institutions and potential off-takers are underway and will now be sped up to acquire the necessary funding for the construction.”

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