International Lithium (TSXV: ILC) announced on Tuesday it has agreed to sell the company’s remaining 8.58% stake in the Mariana lithium salar project in Argentina to a subsidiary of Ganfeng Lithium, its joint venture partner on the project. The lithium junior will also sell its other rights on the Mariana project, including the right to acquire an additional 10% ownership.
As consideration, Ganfeng will make a cash payment of $13.16 million. Immediately following the sale, ILC will repay to another Ganfeng subsidiary an exploration loan taken by the company in 2014 of $2 million, plus accrued interest at 10% per annum.
After repaying the exploration loan plus interest, ILC will be left with $10 million from the transaction. Proceeds of the sale will be used to advance the company’s Raleigh Lake lithium and rubidium project in Ontario.
The Mariana project consists of a lithium brine deposit in Salta, Argentina, within the Lithium Triangle. Salar de Llullaillaco, which makes up the project, is less than 140 km south of the Atacama Salar in Chile, the largest producing lithium brine deposit in the world.
The Mariana project contains an estimated 4.41 million tonnes of LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent) in measured and indicated resources, plus 786,000 tonnes of LCE inferred, making it one of the biggest lithium deposits in the world.
In July, ILC chairman and CEO John Wisbey said the company had been seeking to sell remaining stake in Mariana, taking into consideration that Ganfeng’s intention to invest $575 million in the project in the coming years could result in significant dilution to existing shareholders on other projects, thus undermining the investment case.
ILC’s stake in the project would have been substituted with a 1% net smelter royalty should the company not been able, or decided not to, raise sufficient funds, and should its stake in Mariana fallen below 5%. The royalty would not have started to pay until 2025 or beyond.
As part of consideration for the Mariana deal, ILC has extended the deadline for exploration spending by Ganfeng on the Avalonia joint venture project in Ireland (55% Ganfeng/45% ILC).