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A 20,000-Tonnes-Per-Annum Lithium Project Advances With MOU

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CODELCO, Chile’s state-owned copper mining company, and Bearing Lithium signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Maricunga Salar.

According to Bearing Lithium, Maricunga lithium brine project is Chile's highest-grade and most advanced lithium project outside the Salar de Atacama. A feasibility study estimated production at 20,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate equivalent over 20-years with a pre-tax net present value of $1.302 billion.

An environmental impact assessment is expected before year's end.

A new joint-venture company will be formed, Minera Salar Blanco. Ownership will comprise of Bearing with an 18% interest, Minera Salar Blanco SpA at 31% and Lithium Power International at 51%.

Minera Salar Blanco's Chief Executive Officer, Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro, said in a news release he plans to make the company Chile's third lithium producer.

"The objective of the MOU is to define the terms for a definitive agreement to develop a joint project in the Maricunga Salar under a public-private alliance model, which would allow it to become the third lithium producer in Chile.

"This JV would allow for a very robust and scalable project, and would also fast-track the Maricunga development, including provision of all the necessary permits. It would include CODELCO's key CEOL contract and the Nuclear Commission permit covering the entire salar, which would complement the expected approval of MSB's EIA before year-end. This means there would be greater certainty regarding the permitting of the project.

"Consolidation of the mining concessions would include an option to increase production capacity and/or extend the life of the mine beyond its expected 20-year span, therefore creating additional value for all shareholders.

"Focus will now be on the finalization of the environmental approval process (EIA) and ongoing negotiations with potential financing and strategic partners. The aim is for initial construction to commence during the first half of 2020, after the finalization of the terms of the definitive JV agreement."

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