Carlos Vicens reports
NEO LITHIUM ANNOUNCES SUBMISSION OF ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT ("EIA") FOR CONSTRUCTION OF ITS 3Q PROJECT
Neo Lithium Corp. has submitted the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for its wholly owned Tres Quebradas lithium brine project (3Q
project) in Catamarca province, Argentina.
- The 3Q project achieves a major milestone by submitting the project EIA to the Catamarca Mining and Environmental Authority, after more than two years of preparation.
Final construction permitting process has now begun and approval is expected to be obtained in 2019.
The 3Q project will provide significant economic and social benefits for the Catamarca province, the Tinogasta department and Fiambala municipality.
The company has started formalizing its social responsibility practices following e3 Plus and sustainable mining standards.
The EIA presented to Catamarca Environmental and Mining Authorities was prepared by GT Ingenieria SA (Argentina), a company specialized in environmental studies with deep experience in the mining and industrial sectors. The EIA included work with local professionals from the University of Catamarca, the University of Tucuman and the University of Mendoza, as well as the IHLLA research centre in Buenos Aires, specialized in hydrogeology. The EIA includes a hydrological model that allows the authorities to understand the impact of exploitation in brine water table in the salar and surrounding lithium brine lakes. The EIA was prepared following the lineaments of the prefeasibility report announced on March 21, 2019, which outlined the production of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.
The company obtained its initial environmental permit (DIA in Spanish) in 2016, which was subsequently renewed in 2018 and approved in 2019 for exploration, geophysics, drilling, pond and camp construction. That renewal allowed the development of further infill drilling for the final feasibility study, production wells, monitoring wells and further drilling in the high-grade zone (currently continuing). The company is also running a fully operational lithium carbonate pilot plant in Fiambala.
In October, 2018, the company completed and presented to the environmental authorities the environmental baseline study (EBS), with two years of data for flora, fauna, social studies, water studies, air studies, soil studies, archeology, limnology and complete overview of the environmental issues of the region. The EBS included an analysis of the Ramsar site (wetlands environmental awareness zone) and the measures taken to assure that there will be no adverse impact on flora or fauna in the area. The EBS confirms that significant nesting grounds are only found well outside of the proposed mining and operations area of influence. The hydrological models also demonstrate that the proposed mining operations would have no influence on areas to the south, where limited nesting grounds are found. The EBS showed that the 3Q project can be developed with minimal impact in the ecosystems and identified areas outside the tenements that are environmentally sensitive, proposing to the authorities a special treatment of those sectors.
"This is a very important milestone that derisks the 3Q project and demonstrate our commitment to the environment and the people of the Catamarca province," said Waldo Perez, president and chief executive officer of Neo Lithium. "We expect prompt treatment of or our EIA submission since we are now in the final stages of making the 3Q project a reality to the province and our shareholders as we continue or pathway and progress towards our development and production objectives."
The company has also been working extensively on its social community program for three years with a full-time team of five professionals at its offices in Fiambala. The team carried on the 2018 program that included:
A total of 16 training courses for the community so far (including bakery, ceramics, health, pastry, mechanics, safety and leather works, among others) that were attended by over 600 people;
- More than 15 presentations of the project in schools, municipality, local, service providers and training courses attended by approximate 800 people;
- Over 100 visits of the local community to the 3Q project;
- Over 250 written consultations answered in the Fiambala office;
- Sponsorship in sports, arts and religious affairs;
- Over 70-per-cent local employment;
- Priority to local service providers and suppliers;
- Strong support on the project based on local survey in town.
Neo Lithium continues to adhere to international standards of social responsibility practices. As the 3Q project is in the final stages of exploration and development, the company expects to reach the construction and production stage in the foreseeable future, with its approach containing elements of both "e3 Plus -- a Framework for Responsible Exploration" of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and of "Towards Sustainable Mining" of the Mining Association of Canada. In addition, it includes a sociology component based on the doctor of philosophy studies of Dr. Jan Boon.
Dr. Boon was a member of the CSR (corporate social responsibility) committee of the PDAC and was involved in the development of e3 Plus. His sociology doctor of philosophy thesis dealt with social responsibility in mineral exploration. Dr. Boon is providing guidance together with Lic. Pablo Lumerman, an expert in dialogue and a member of the Plataforma de Dialogo de la Republica Argentina and of the Grupo de Dialogo Latinoamericano. Employees are participating in capacity building exercises and have taken part in a survey aimed at establishing a sociological baseline.
About Neo Lithium Corp.
Neo Lithium has quickly become a prominent new name in lithium brine exploration by virtue of its high-quality 3Q project and experienced team. Already well capitalized, Neo Lithium is rapidly advancing its recently discovered 3Q project, a unique high-grade lithium brine lake and salar complex in Latin America's Lithium Triangle.
The 3Q project is located in the province of Catamarca, the largest lithium producing area in Argentina. The project covers approximately 35,000 hectares and the salar complex within this area is approximately 16,000 hectares.
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