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Bearing Lithium Corp
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Bearing JV receives updated Maricunga resource estimate

2017-07-13 15:10 ET - News Release

Mr. Jeremy Poirier reports


Bearing Lithium Corp. has received an updated JORC (Joint Ore Reserves Committee) resource estimate from Li3 Energy Inc. from the continuing development work at the Maricunga lithium brine project located in Chile. Bearing Lithium has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Li3 and its interest in the Maricunga project. Li3 currently holds a 17.7-per-cent interest in the Maricunga project along with Minera Salar Blanco (MSB) and Lithium Power International Ltd. at 32.3 per cent and 50 per cent respectively pursuant to a joint venture arrangement. Under the terms of the joint venture, Lithium Power has agreed to finance exploration and development costs, with both Li3 and MSB having a free carry until the completion of a definitive feasibility study.

JORC resource highlights

  • The Maricunga project represents one of the highest-grade undeveloped lithium brine projects in the world.
  • The M&I (measured and indicated) Resource has tripled in size while adding a significant inferred resource and maintaining high grades.
  • The updated resource does not incorporate resource below 200 metres, specifically the 360-metre hole (hole S19) that terminated in high-grade lithium brine.
  • Li3 anticipates release of a National Instrument 43-101 resource estimate and report prepared in accordance with NI 43-101 by August, 2017.
  • Process testwork remains continuing, which will be incorporated in a prefeasibility study (PFS) anticipated in Q4 2017 and a definitive feasibility study in H1 2018.
  • Favourable porosity and permeability make the resource amenable to extraction by pumping, which is highlighted by the strong flow rates observed from pump tests.

"We are extremely pleased with the updated JORC resource estimate completed by the Maricunga joint venture under the direction of the project operator, Minera Salar Blanco (MSB). This resource estimate demonstrates the true potential of this world-class project. The results have significantly increased the size of the resource, confirmed the grade and demonstrated the continued existence of exploration potential. M&I grades of 1,100 milligrams per litre lithium and inferred grades of 1,300 milligrams per litre lithium rank Maricunga as the highest-grade preproduction lithium brine project worldwide. Development activities remain on schedule with process testwork, preliminary engineering and design advancing towards a prefeasibility study (PFS) anticipated later this year and a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in H1 2018," stated Jeremy Poirier, president and chief executive officer of Bearing Lithium.

Patrick Cussen, chairman of Li3, stated: "We thank and congratulate the MSB team for this very important milestone in the development of the Maricunga project. The upcoming NI 43-101 report under way by the MSB team and the overwhelming support of Li3's shareholder base in favour of the transaction with Bearing are testimony that the migration to the TSX-V will firmly place Maricunga in a market that not only understands lithium but is very bullish on the industry's future. No preproduction project in Chile is as advanced as Maricunga in every aspect, and we are pleased to have been there from the start and to now continue to develop the project with our partners MSB and LPI. We continue to work expeditiously with the Bearing team to complete our transaction as soon as possible."

Maricunga project and updated resource estimate

The Maricunga joint venture has released an updated JORC resource estimate, incorporating the results from recent drilling and pump testing since the publication of the 2012 resource estimate. A measured and indicated resource of 325,000 tonnes of lithium at an average concentration of 1,143 milligrams per litre lithium, plus an inferred resource of 80,000 tonnes of lithium at an average concentration of 1,289 milligrams per litre lithium. A breakdown of the resource is presented in the attached table. The resource was prepared by Frits Reidel, CPG, president of Flo Solutions and calculated using ordinary kriging for the chemical and drainable porosity data, estimated independently. This JORC resource incorporates the drilling and assay work undertaken by LI3 in 2011/2012, geophysical and pumping testwork undertaken by MSB in 2015 on the Litio 1-6 and Cocina concessions held by Li3, and drilling between September, 2016, and January, 2017, comprising nine rotary drill holes totalling 1,815 metres and four sonic holes totalling 613 metres, plus pump tests on the Litio 1-6, Cocina, San Francisco, Salamina and Despreciada concessions. The 2016/2017 program was designed to drill to a depth of 200 metres, versus the 2011/12 program, which went down to 150 metres, in addition to one hole drilled to a depth of 360 metres. The measured and indicated resource was defined to a depth of 150 metres within the Litio 1-6 concession and to a depth of 200 metres within the Cocina, San Francisco, Salamina and Despreciada concessions, and to 150 metres in the Litio 1-6 concession. The inferred resource is defined between 150-metre and 200-metre depth, underlying the Litio 1-6 properties, where sonic and RC (reverse circulation) drilling failed to reach the target depth and terminated at 173 metres and 192 metres, respectively.

                                         MARICUNGA RESOURCE ESTIMATE 

            Area  Volume  Drainable    Brine     Average    Average  Concentration  Concentration  Contained  Contained
           (sqkm)  (cbkm)  porosity   volume       grade      grade       (mg/L Li)       (mg/L K)     (t Li)      (t K)
                                (Sy)   (cbkm)  (g/cbm Li)  (g/cbm K)

Measured   18.88    3.06      5.02%     0.15          56        409          1,174          8,646        170      1,250
Indicated   6.76    1.35     10.65%     0.14         114        801          1,071          7,491        155      1,100
M&I        25.64    4.41      6.75%     0.30          74        529          1,143          8,292        325      2,350
Inferred   14.38    0.72      8.99%     0.06         114        869          1,289          9,859         80        630

Expressed in more common compounds, the measured and indicated resource totals 1.7 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), plus an inferred resource of 400,000 tonnes of LCE. In addition, there is a significant potash resource of 4.5 million tonnes of potassium chloride (KCl) within the measured and indicated resource, plus an inferred resource of 1.2 million tonnes of KCl. A breakdown of the resource as expressed in common compounds is presented in the attached table.


                            Contained             Contained   
                              lithium             potassium
                            carbonate              chloride
                            (t Li2CO3)               (t KCl) 

Measured                          900                 2,400               
Indicated                         820                 2,100               
M&I                             1,720                 4,500               
Inferred                          430                 1,200 

An exploration resource target estimate has been prepared, which provides an upper and lower range scenario for the resource potential below the current resource from 200 metres down to 400 metres. Note that one hole was drilled to test this potential, rotary hole S19, which terminated at a depth of 360 metres and bottomed in highly mineralized lithium brine, and forms the basis on the aforementioned exploration target. This exploration target outlines the potential for an additional 195,000 to 470,000 tonnes of lithium (one million to 2.6 million tonnes of LCE) and 1.53 million to 3.47 million tonnes of potassium (three million to 6.6 million tonnes of KCl equivalent) between 200-metre and 400-metre depth.

Exploration targets are not mineral resources. The potential quantity and grade of the exploration target are conceptual in nature, and there has been insufficient exploration to define a mineral resource in the volume where the exploration target is outlined. It is uncertain if further exploration drilling will result in the determination of a mineral resource in this volume.

Don Hains, PGeo, who is a technical consultant to the company and is a qualified person within the context of National Instrument 43-101, has read and takes responsibility for this news release.

Resource estimation methodology

The block model was constructed with a Cartesian north-south grid defined in the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) WGS84 co-ordinate system, with 50-metre square blocks and a one-metre vertical thickness. Estimation was carried out using ordinary kriging for the chemical and the drainable porosity data. The estimate of each was carried out independently. The model domain is constrained by:

  • The area of the JV properties;
  • The elevation from the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) advanced space-borne thermal emission and reflection radiometer (ASTER) global digital elevation model, which has been local adjusted for each hole collar co-ordinate and elevation;
  • The bottom of the resource model is constrained to 200-metre depth across the model domain.

Within the model, the individual lithological units were treated as having hard boundaries for estimation of porosity, with estimation occurring within each of the units independently.

The search ellipsoids have the shortest distance in the Z direction (vertical). No outlier restrictions, such as capping the values, were applied, as the elements estimated (lithium and potassium) were not considered to warrant treatment in this way. A minimum of five and a maximum of 80 values were used to inform each block.

The block model estimation was validated using a series of checks, including comparison of univariant statistics for global estimation bias, visual inspection against samples on plans and sections, and swath plots in the north-south direction and vertically to detect spatial bias. An independent nearest-neighbour model was generated for each parameter to verify that the estimate honours the drilling and sampling data. This nearest-neighbour model provides a declustered distribution of hole data that was used for validation. An independent estimate of the resource was completed using a nearest-neighbour estimate, and the comparison of the results with the ordinary kriging estimate is below 0.3 per cent for measured resources and below 3 per cent for indicated resources, which is considered to be acceptable.

About Bearing Lithium Corp.

Bearing Lithium is an exploration and development company. The Li3 definitive agreement will enable it to acquire an interest in the advanced-stage Maricunga project located in Chile, which represents one of the highest-grade development opportunities in the Americas.

We seek Safe Harbor.

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