Definitive Feasibility Study Confirms Positive Outlook For Maricunga Stage One Lithium Brine Project

Vancouver, British Columbia – Bearing Lithium Corp. (“Bearing” or the “Company”) (TSX Venture:BRZ) (OTCQB:BLILF) the Company is pleased to release the results of its updated Definitive Feasibility Study for the Stage One Maricunga Lithium Brine project. The Maricunga project is managed by Minera Salar Blanco (MSB), which is owned by Lithium Power InternationaI Limited (“LPI”) (51.55%), Borda Group in Chile (31.31%) and Bearing Lithium Corp. (“BRZ”) (17.14%).

  • Maricunga Stage One DFS delivers US$1.4B NPV (after tax) at an 8% discount rate 
  • An IRR of 39.6% and a 2-year payback period 
  • OPEX of US$3,718 per tonne of LCE produced 
  • Annual EBITDA of US$324M 
  • Direct development cost US$419M, Indirect cost US$145M and Contingency US$62M for a total project CAPEX of US$626M 
  • 15,200 tonnes of LCE per annum over 20 years

Highlights 

  • The updated Maricunga Stage One Lithium Brine project’s Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) supports 15,200 tonnes per annum production of lithium carbonate (LCE) for 20 years. 
  • Project NPV1 (leveraged basis) of US$1.425B (after tax) at 8% discount rate, providing an IRR of 39.6% and a 2-year payback. Estimated steady-state annual EBITDA of US$324M. 

1 Assumes a 50% leverage. On a “100% Equity Basis”, the NPV (after tax) is US$1.412B, providing an IRR of 29.3 % and a 2 years and 8 months Payback.

  • Project operating cost places Maricunga among the most efficient producers with an OPEX of US$3,718 per tonne not including credit from potassium chloride (KCl) by-product. KCI production was not considered in the DFS. 
  • Project direct development cost estimated at US$419M, indirect costs at US$145M and contingency costs at US$62M to provide a total project CAPEX of US$626M.
  • Exceptional ESG profile aims to achieve carbon neutrality once operation beds down, setting new standards for social relationships. Certification process led by Deloitte will continue during upcoming years as the project advances. 
  • Project infrastructure including water rights have been secured by long term contracts during project construction and operation. Access to the National Power Grid has been granted, ensuring future power supply including an important component of renewable energy. 
  • Revised DFS completed by Tier-1 engineering consultancy Worley to international standards, with cost inputs from EPC contractors to provide greater certainty on cost estimates. The Resource and Reserve estimates were prepared by Atacama Water. 
  • Preliminary indications of interest received from international and Chilean financial institutions and private funds for debt financing and future equity financing of the project. Finance process will continue in coming months. 
  • Updating of the EPC proposals will commence during Q1. Final Investment Decision expected for 2022, with construction to start immediately after.

Bearing Lithium Corp (TSXV: BRZ) (“BRZ” or the “Company”) through its Joint Venture (“JV”) Company, Minera Salar Blanco S.A. (“MSB”), is pleased to provide details of the updated Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for its Maricunga Stage One lithium brine project in northern Chile. The study confirms that Maricunga Stage One could be one of the world’s lowest-cost producers of lithium carbonate, with a solid ESG strategy to support a sustainable future.

NPV Discount Rate Leveraged (50%) Pure Equity
Pre-Tax After-Tax Pre-Tax After-Tax
US$M US$M US$M US$M
NPV 8% 1,984 1,425 1,971 1,412
IRR 44.5 39.6 33.4 29.3
Project Payback (Years) 2 2 2.8 2.8

Summary of key economic parameters of the Stage One project

Access to the full DFS report prepared by Worley, is available on the Bearing Lithium website https://www.bearinglithium.com/ and www.SEDAR.com

Minera Salar Blanco’s Chief Executive Officer, Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro, commented:

“We are extremely pleased with the results of the updated DFS for the Maricunga Stage One lithium brine project. The strong economics, as well as the exceptional sustainability profile, confirms the high standard and attractiveness of the project. 

The priority for 2022 is to finalise project finance for the Stage One project. We are actively working with both international and Chilean financial institutions on different structures for debt financing, as well as with potential strategic partners for equity investments. Update of the EPC proposals will soon commence, with the expectation of a Final Investment Decision (FID) by the end of the year. Construction should start immediately after the FID. 

We are continuing to work on the development of a subsequent Stage Two at Maricunga, considering the current significant forecast growth in lithium demand and Stage One being in its final phase of pre-production. This will also benefit from the maturation of new production technologies in the lithium industry, realising the significant value of all our assets.”

The following information is drawn from the executive summary of the DFS of the Maricunga “Stage One Project”. More detail is provided in that NI 43-101 report on the DFS for the project by consultants Worley and Atacama Water

Maricunga Stage One Project – Terms of Reference 

The Stage One Project (herein the “Project”) is owned and operated by Minera Salar Blanco S.A. (“Minera Salar Blanco or MSB”). MSB is in turn owned by Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI) 51.55%; Minera Salar Blanco SpA (previously BBL) 31.31%; and Bearing Lithium Corp. (TSXV: BRZ) 17.14%. The associated report prepared by Worley and Atacama Water for MSB is to provide a National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”) compliant Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) of its “Stage One Project” located in Salar de Maricunga in the Atacama Region of northern Chile. The report provides an independent updated Mineral Reserve estimate and a technical appraisal of the economic viability of the production of an average of 15,200 t/a of battery grade lithium carbonate over a 20- year mine-life from the lithium contained on the ‘Old Code’ mining concessions (OCC) owned by MSB, based on additional exploration work carried out to 400 m depth during 2021. The OCC are constituted under the 1932 Chilean Mining Code and do not require a special license from the Chilean Government (Contrato Especial de Operación del Litio – CEOL) for the production and sale of lithium products. Resource estimates are for lithium and potassium contained in brine. The DFS report was prepared under the guidelines of NI 43-101 and in conformity with its standards.

All items related to geology, hydrogeology, mineral resources and reserves were prepared by Atacama Water. Peter Ehren was responsible for preparing all technical items related to brine chemistry and mineral processing. Capital and Operating expenditures mentioned in the associated NI 43-101 report were estimated by Worley, relying on quotations requested from equipment, chemicals and other suppliers, as well as from its project data base. Worley relied extensively on Minera Salar Blanco and its consultants, as cited in the text of the study and the references, for information on future prices of lithium carbonate, legislation and tax in Chile, as well as for general project data and information. The report was reviewed by Mr. Marek Dworzanowski, CEng., BSc (Hons), HonFSAIMM, FIMMM of Worley, Mr. Peter Ehren, MSc, MAusIMM and Mr. Frits Reidel, CPG. Mr. Marek Dworzanowski, Mr. Peter Ehren and Mr. Frits Reidel are “qualified persons” (QP) and are independent of MSB as such terms are defined by NI 43-101.

Bearing Lithium Corporation’s Chairman, Gil Playford commented:

“ Today’s announcement of the Maricunga Stage One 15,200 tonnes pa production Definitive Feasibility Study is a major step forward for the Bearing Lithium shareholders. Achieving this important milestone facilitates the financing required for the commencement of construction and paves the way for further development of Stage Two for longer term growth at Maricunga.“ 

About Bearing Lithium Corp. 

Bearing Lithium Corp (BRZ) is a pure-play lithium company focused on the development of Chile’s next high-grade lithium mine. The Maricunga JV, in which BRZ holds a 17% interest, is the highest quality pre-production lithium brine project in South America and has one of the world’s highest-grade lithium resources at 1,167 mg/l lithium and 8,500 mg/l potassium. The September 2021 NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate for the deposit totals 2.9 Mt LCE now all classified as Measured and Indicated. Over $US 67 million has been invested in the Maricunga Project to date.

ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD 

Signed “Gil Playford” 

Gil Playford, Chairman

gplayford@bearinglithium.com 

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. 

Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward Looking Information 

This press release includes certain “forward-looking information” and “forward-looking statements” (collectively “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable Canadian and United States securities legislation including the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, without limitation, statements relating the future operating or financial performance of the Company, are forward-looking statements. 

Forward-looking statements are frequently, but not always, identified by words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “intends”, “estimates”, “potential”, “possible”, and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions, or results “will”, “may”, “could”, or “should” occur or be achieved. Actual future results may differ materially. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Forward-looking statements reflect the beliefs, opinions and projections on the date the statements are made and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that, while considered reasonable by the Company, are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties and contingencies. Many factors, both known and unknown, could cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from the results, performance or achievements that are or may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and the parties have made assumptions and estimates based on or related to many of these factors. Readers should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements and information contained in this news release concerning these times. Except as required by law, the Company does not assume any obligation to update the forward-looking statements of beliefs, opinions, projections, or other factors, should they change, except as required by law.

Qualified person Frederik Reidel

I, Frederik Reidel, CPG, as author of this report entitled “NI 43-101 Technical Report: Definitive Feasibility Study Update Minera Salar Blanco Lithium Project Stage One, Atacama Region Chile”, prepared for Minera Salar Blanco S.A., dated January 07, 2022 do hereby certify that:

  1. I am employed as Principal Hydrogeologist and General Manager by Atacama Water-Chile, residing at Badajoz 45, OF 1701, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.
  2. I am a graduate of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Geophysics, 1986
  3. I am registered a Certified Professional Geologist (#11454) with the American Institute of Professional Geologists
  4. I have worked as hydrogeologist for more than 30 years since my graduation. My relevant experience for the purpose of the Technical Report is:
    • Qualified Person for the Sal de los Angeles Project, Salta Argentina for LiX Energy Corp 2016 – to date).
    • Qualified Person and Member of the technical committees of Li3 Energy Ltd and Minera Salar Blanco for the development of the Maricunga Lithium Project in Chile (2011 – to date).
    • Co-author of the NI 43-101 Technical Report on the lithium and potash resources in Salar de Maricunga for Li3 Energy Ltd (2012).
    • Evaluation of lithium and potash resources in Salar de Olaroz for Orocobre Ltd. in support of the project’s DFS and NI 43-101 Technical Report (2010-2011).
    • Evaluation of lithium and potash resources in Salar de Cauchari for Lithium Americas Corporation; NI 43-101 Technical Report preparation; member of the company’s Technical Advisory Panel (20092010).
    • Evaluation of brine resources in Salar de Hombre Muerto for FMC (1992-1993)
    • Consulting hydrogeologist in the evaluation and development of groundwater resources for international mining companies in North- and South America (1989-2012).
  5. I have read the definition of “qualified person” set out in National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) and certify that by reason of my education, affiliation with a professional association (as defined in NI 43-101) and past relevant work experience, I fulfil the requirements to be a “qualified person” for the purposes of NI 43-101.
  6. I have visited the Salar de Maricunga and the Project area numerous times between August 2011 and to date. I was present on site on a regular basis during the 2011 – 2021 drilling and testing programs.
  7. I have been involved as a QP with the property since 2011.
  8. I am responsible for the overall preparation of this report.
  9. I am independent of the Issuer applying the test set out in Section 1.4 of NI 43-101.
  10. I have read NI 43-101, and the Technical Report has been prepared in compliance with NI 43-101 and Form 43-101F1.
  11. To the best of my knowledge, information, and belief, the Technical Report contains all scientific and technical information that is required to be disclosed to make the technical report not misleading.

Dated this 7th of January of 2022.

Frederik Reidel, CP