Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX:LAC)(OTCQX:LACDF) ("Lithium Americas" or the "Company") is pleased to provide an update for the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project ("Cauchari-Olaroz") in Jujuy province, Argentina.
Minera Exar S.A. ("Minera Exar"), a 50/50 joint venture company ("JV") between Lithium Americas and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. ("SQM"), continues to advance the Cauchari-Olaroz project as planned. As previously announced, Minera Exar is pursuing a development plan at Cauchari-Olaroz that targets 50,000 tonnes per annum ("tpa") of lithium carbonate production capacity in two stages, with each stage consisting of 25,000 tpa of lithium carbonate. A feasibility study ("Stage 1 DFS") on the first stage of 25,000 tpa of lithium carbonate production capacity ("Stage 1") is nearing completion.
The qualified persons ("QPs") responsible for preparing the Stage 1 DFS have completed substantially all capital cost development analysis for Stage 1, with remaining work related primarily to confirming SQM's operating cost estimates to a NI 43-101 compliant feasibility study standard. The Company and the QPs can confirm at this time the following:
- The project capital cost estimate for the construction of Stage 1 is expected to be US$420 - US$430 million before value-added and other applicable taxes ("Taxes") and working capital;
- The operating cost estimate will be at the low end of the cost curve compared to producing lithium operations;
- The parties expect to be in a position to commence construction in the first half of 2017;
- The current construction schedule is estimated at two years with production forecast to start in 2019; and
- During the construction period, Minera Exar's direct employment in the province of Jujuy is estimated to be at least 800 people; once in operation, Minera Exar is expected to employ approximately 300 people in permanent positions.
Lithium Americas will be responsible for contributing 50% of capital expenditures for the construction of Stage 1, amounting to approximately US$210 - US$215 million before Taxes and working capital.
Ernie Burga, a qualified person under NI 43-101, has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release. Further information about the scientific and technical information on Cauchari-Olaroz in this press release, including a summary of data verification measures, and a description of the assumptions, parameters and risks associated with this information, will be available in a NI 43-101 Technical Report that will be filed by Lithium Americas in connection with its disclosure of the results of the Stage 1 DFS.