Near Surface Sediment Sample Assaying Returns 692 ppm Cesium and 1,450 ppm Lithium
Monumental Minerals Corp. (“Monumental” or the “Company“) (TSX-V: MNRL; FSE: BE5) is pleased to announce that the Company has entered into an arm’s length letter of intent (“LOI“) with Lithium Chile Inc. (“Lithium Chile“) (TSX-V: LITH : OTCQB: LTMCF) to acquire up to 75% of the 5200-hectare Salar De Laguna Blanca project (the “Laguna Project“) located near the town of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
The Laguna Project is located within the prolific lithium triangle, a zone within the central Andes high desert that includes Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. This zone is estimated to contain more than half of the world’s lithium supply beneath the many salt flats, also known as salars, that are common to the region. The Laguna Blanca property consists of 23 exploration concessions totaling 5,200 hectares, 100% owned by Lithium Chile through its wholly owned Chilean subsidiary Minera Kairos Chile Limitada (“Minera Kairos“) (Fig. 1). The Laguna Project includes both active and paleo salar brines and salts (Fig. 2).
The Laguna Project is an early exploration stage project that is accessible from the town of San Pedro de Atacama, 80 kilometres to the west via the paved road 27CH to the north end of Salar de Aguas Calientes then a truck accessible trail heading north to the interior of the property. Travel time from San Pedro de Atacama to the property is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Between April 2018 and June 2021 Minera Kairos completed preliminary reconnaissance and detailed geochemical and geophysical surveys:
- Lithium Chile reported the results of a program of follow up sediment geochemical and surface water surveys covered the bulk of the active salar – laguna complex and adjacent paleo salts and sediments. Laboratory analysis of the sediment samples range from 75 – 692 ppm cesium and 250 – 1,450 ppm lithium. The results outline a large area of cesium enrichment of about 9 km2, which is open to the NE and SE. Water samples taken from the surface lagunas and subsurface samples from shallow 0.5 – 1.3 m deep hand auger holes range from 20 – 40 mg/l cesium plus 780 – 1,230 mg/l lithium.
- A 13-line kilometer reconnaissance TEM geophysical survey cover the active salar-laguna complex and its adjacent SW flank. This survey identified a 10 km2 high conductivity TEM anomaly having 100-200 m modelled thickness that underlies the SW flank of the lithium – cesium anomaly.
- Bulk brine samples are currently being tested for lithium extraction.
The Company and its Qualified Persons have been unable to verify the historical sample collection methodology or analytical results reported by Lithium Chile, but believe the historical results are relevant and reliable. Future work by Monumental is planned, including a site visit and verification sampling is required to verify the historical results.
Jamil Sader, Monumental’s CEO and a Director comments:
“The Laguna Blanca lithium asset is a strategic acquisition for Monumental Minerals and has the potential to become a significant cesium-lithium deposit in the region. Lithium grades determined to date are consistent with those from mines currently in production in the region, and it has the added benefit of potentially economic cesium, a critical metal necessary for 5G communication. The Project is complimentary to the Company’s flagship Jemi heavy rare earth element project in Coahuila, Mexico, and the strength of these two assets well position Monumental to take advantage of the global shift of decarbonization, and to add significant value for shareholders.”
Figure 1. Laguna Blanca Project Location and Surficial Geology
(a)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (b)
Figure 2. Photos of the (a) active salar showing lithium rich brines in the north central sector of the property and b) the paleo-salar area of Laguna Blanca looking to the southwest.
Currently, almost the entire global cesium supply comes from the Tanco mine, a hard rock deposit in Manitoba, Canada. The largest consumer of cesium is the oil and gas exploration sector. Cesium formate is added to drilling fluids to lubricate drill bits, to bring rock cuttings to the surface, and to prevent blowouts in high pressure wells. Cesium is also critical in the 5G communication revolution, as it is critical in atomic clocks that keep vast communication networks in sync for internet of things (IoT) functions.
Over the past year, the spot price for lithium has increased by over 550% (Fig. 3). The price of the metal has out paced every other metal. The only other commodities with a similar price appreciation trajectory are rare earth elements used in the production of high-performance magnets for electric motors (neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), dysprosium (Dy), and terbium (Tb)). Â The driver for the lithium price explosion is widely believed to be due to increases in demand for the manufacturing of EV batteries, as automakers transition their fleets to EVs. According to Adamas Intelligence, a record 25,921 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) were used to manufacture EV batteries for passenger vehicles globally in December 2021.
About Critical Metals
The US government has identified lithium and select rare earth elements (REEs) as critical metals, and there is currently a strong push to curtail the US reliance of these metals from sources that are not politically friendly. On February 22, 2022, US President Joe Biden announced government financial incentives for both lithium and REE producers to develop downstream processing and refining of REEs and lithium. Additionally, a bi-partisan US senate bill recently passed, which would make it illegal for US defense contractors to procure REEs from China. Monumental Minerals is positioned to play a significant role in lithium and REE stability and sustainably in the Americas.
Figure 3. The lithium carbonate spot price over the past 12 months has appreciated by over 550%. Price unit is yuan/tonne.
Terms of the Proposed Transaction
Subject to the execution of a definitive agreement (“Definitive Agreement“), Monumental will have the option to earn-in up to a 75% interest in the Laguna Project by issuing to Lithium Chile that number of common shares of Monumental that would result in Lithium Chile holding, on a non-diluted basis (after any potential financing in connection with or related to this potential transaction), 9.9% of the issue and outstanding common shares of Monumental (the “Payment Shares“). In addition, Monumental must make certain staged cash payments to Lithium Chile and incur exploration expenditures on the Laguna Project as follows:
(a) Make cash payments of an aggregate of C$1,500,000 according to the following schedule:
- $200,000 within fifteen (15) days of final TSX Venture Exchange approval of this proposed transaction (the “Acceptance Date“);
- $250,000 on or before the eighteen (18) month anniversary of the Acceptance Date;
- $300,000 on or before the second anniversary of the Acceptance Date; and
- $750,000 on or before the third anniversary of the Acceptance Date.
(b) Incur minimum expenditures on the Laguna Project of not less than an aggregate of C$1,500,000 according to the following schedule:
- $200,000 on or before the first anniversary of the Acceptance Date;
- $500,000 on or before the second anniversary of the Acceptance Date; and
- $800,000 on or before the third anniversary of the Acceptance Date.
Subject to the exercise of the option to acquire 75% of the Laguna Project, Lithium Chile would retain a 1% net smelter returns royalty payable upon the commercial production of the Laguna Project. In addition to the statutory hold period of four months and a day from the date of issuance, the Payment Shares will be subject to a 12-month voluntary hold period from the date of issuance. Upon Monumental earning a 75% interest in the Laguna Project, Monumental and Lithium Chile will use commercially reasonable efforts to negotiate and execute a joint venture agreement for the purpose of jointly carrying out exploration, evaluation and development of the Laguna Project.
Further details regarding the proposed transaction with Lithium Chile will be provided in a comprehensive news release if, and when, the parties enter into the Definitive Agreement. The proposed transaction between Monumental and Lithium Chile is subject to, among other things, the execution of the Definitive Agreement and TSX Venture Exchange approval.
Methodology and QA/QC
All samples were reportedly collected by Lithium Chile staff. Each salt and sediment sample consisted of 1 -1.5 kg of unconsolidated material taken from 0.5 – 1.2m deep holes using a hand-held auger that were bagged and sealed on site. All samples were delivered by Lithium Chile’s staff to the ALS prep-lab in La Serena for processing. ALS subsequently shipped a 30g subsample to their laboratory in Lima, Peru where they were analyzed for 51 elements, including 2 lithium and cesium, by the ICP-MS technique following Agua Regia digestion. Over limit (>500ppm Cs) sample were re-run using the ICP-MS81 technique following lithium borate fusion. ALS is an ISO-IEC 17025:2017 and ISO 9001:2015 accredited geoanalytical laboratory and is independent of the Monumental Minerals, Lithium Chile, Minera Kairos and the QP.
The Company and its Qualified Persons have been unable to verify the historical sample collection methodology or analytical results, but believe the historical results are relevant. Future work by Monumental is planned, including a site visit and verification sampling is required to verify the historical results.
The scientific and technical information contained in this news release has been reviewed and approved byÂ Kristopher J. Raffle, P.Geo. (BC) Principal and Consultant of APEX Geoscience Ltd. of Edmonton, AB, a Director of the Company and a “Qualified Person” as defined in National Instrument 43-101 -Â Standards of DisclosureÂ for Mineral Projects.
About Monumental Minerals Corp.
Monumental Minerals Corp. is a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition, exploration, and development of mineral resource properties in the critical and electric metals sector. The Company’s flagship asset is the Jemi HREE project located in Coahuila, Mexico near the Texas, USA border which the Company has an option to acquire 100% of the 3,650-hectare project. The Company has an option to acquire a 100% interest and title to the Weyman property located in the Kamloops and Nicola Mining Divisions and in the Thompson Nicola Regional District, British Columbia.
On behalf of the Board of Directors,
/s/ “Jamil Sader”
Jamil Sader, Chief Executive Officer and Director
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 news release.
Forward Looking Information
This news release contains “forwardâ€looking information or statements” within the meaning of applicable securities laws, which may include, without limitation, the execution of the Definitive Agreement, obtaining TSX Venture Exchange approval and completing the proposed transaction with Lithium Chile, potential plans for the Company’s projects, other statements relating to the technical, financial and business prospects of the Company, its projects and other matters. All statements in this news release, other than statements of historical facts, that address events or developments that the Company expects to occur, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on numerous assumptions regarding present and future business strategies and the environment in which the Company will operate in the future, including the price of metals, the ability to achieve its goals, that general business and economic conditions will not change in a material adverse manner and that financing will be available if and when needed and on reasonable terms. Such forward-looking information reflects the Company’s views with respect to future events and is subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including the risks and uncertainties relating to the interpretation of exploration results, risks related to the inherent uncertainty of exploration and cost estimates and the potential for unexpected costs and expenses and those other risks filed under the Company’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. While such estimates and assumptions are considered reasonable by the management of the Company, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive and regulatory uncertainties and risks. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward looking statements include, but are not limited to, continued availability of capital and financing and general economic, market or business conditions, failure to secure personnel and equipment for work programs, adverse weather and climate conditions, risks relating to unanticipated operational difficulties (including failure of equipment or processes to operate in accordance with specifications or expectations, cost escalation, unavailability of materials and equipment, government action or delays in the receipt of government approvals, industrial disturbances or other job action, and unanticipated events related to health, safety and environmental matters), risks relating to inaccurate geological assumptions, failure to maintain all necessary government permits, approvals and authorizations, fluctuation in exchange rates, the impact of Covid-19 or other viruses and diseases on the Company’s ability to operate, an inability to predict and counteract the effects of COVID-19 on the business of the Company, including but not limited to, the effects of COVID-19 on the price of commodities, capital market conditions, restriction on labour and international travel and supply chains, decrease in the price of rare earth elements, lithium, cesium and other metals, loss of key employees, consultants, or directors, failure to maintain community acceptance, increase in costs, litigation, and failure of counterparties to perform their contractual obligations. The Company does not undertake to update forwardâ€looking statements or forwardâ€looking information, except as required by law.