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American Lithium Announces Positive Preliminary Economic Assessment for TLC, Base Case – After-tax NPV8% US$3.26 Billion & After-tax IRR of 27.5%

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American Lithium Announces Positive Preliminary Economic Assessment for TLC, Base Case – After-tax NPV8% US$3.26 Billion & After-tax IRR of 27.5%

 

 

 

 

 

American Lithium Corp. (TSX-V:LI) (NASDAQ:AMLI) (Frankfurt:5LA1) is pleased to announce the results of its maiden Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Tonopah Lithium Claims project located in the Esmerelda lithium district northwest of Tonopah, Nevada. This independent PEA was completed jointly by DRA Global and Stantec Consulting Ltd. and demonstrates that the TLC project has the potential to become a substantial, long-life producer of low-cost lithium carbonate with the potential to produce either battery grade LCE or lithium hydroxide. The PEA base case envisions an initial 4.4 Million tonnes per annum processing throughput expanding to 8.8Mtpa. The PEA alternative case is identical, but with added production of high purity magnesium sulfate as a by-product over life of operations. Unless otherwise stated, all dollar figures are in US currency.

 

TLC PEA Highlights (Base Case – Ramp-up Production Li only production):

  • Pre-tax Net Present Value 8% $3.64 billion at $20,000/tonne LCE
  • After-tax NPV8% $3.26 billion at $20,000/t LCE
  • Pre-tax Internal Rate of Return of 28.8%
  • After-tax IRR of 27.5%
  • PEA mine and processing plan produces 1.46 Mt LCE LOM over 40 years
  • Pre-tax initial capital payback period 3.6 years; after-tax payback 3.8 years
  • Average LOM annual pre-tax cash flow: $435 million; annual after tax cash flow: $396 million
  • Initial Capital Costs estimated at $819 million
  • Total Capex estimated at $1,431 million; Sustaining Capital estimated at $792 million
  • Operating cost estimated at $7443/t LCE inclusive of power credits

 

Simon Clarke, CEO of American Lithium, states, “We are extremely pleased to announce a very robust maiden PEA for TLC. Our team has worked hard and spent considerable time getting an in-depth understanding of TLC mineralization and the best way to recover high purity lithium utilizing conventional processing methods with the latest techniques and best in class plant and equipment. A significant portion of the processing work has been done to pre-feasibility levels as we believe this will help us move quickly through the next phases of development. At 99.4% LCE purity, TLC offers the capability to produce either battery grade lithium carbonate or hydroxide with minimal additional refining.

 

In this PEA, we showcase a long mine-life utilizing only the highest-grade sections of the deposit, with the potential for additional production ramp-up and mine life utilizing our mid-grade and lower grade sections. Not only are the economics very strong for high purity lithium production, but TLC also has the potential to produce high purity magnesium sulfates as by-products for agriculture and other end uses. As shown in the PEA, even assuming conservative pricing, these by-products can add significant economic value. At the same time, we have focused our work on ensuring we continue to minimize environmental impacts and water usage in the mining, processing and production of lithium from TLC.”

 

TLC PEA Highlights (Alternate Case – Ramp-Up Production Li + Magnesium Sulfate production):

  • Identical LCE production scenario, but with added LOM average production of 1,681,856 tpa of magnesium sulfate (“MgSO4” – monohydrate and heptahydrate) by-products;
  • Pre-tax Net Present Value 8% $6.06 billion at $20,000/t LCE & $150/t MgSO4;
  • After-tax NPV8% $5.16 billion at $20,000/t LCE & $150/t MgSO4;
  • Pre-tax Internal Rate of Return of 38.6%
  • After-tax IRR of 36.0%
  • Pre-tax initial capital payback period 3.5 years; after-tax payback 3.7 years
  • Average LOM pre-tax annual cash flow: $684 million; annual after tax cash flow: $591 million
  • Initial Capital Costs estimated at $827 million
  • Total Capex estimated at $1439 million; Sustaining Capital estimated at $763 million
  • Operating cost estimated at $7443/t LCE inclusive of power credits
  • Operating cost estimated at $817/t LCE, inclusive of power & MgSO4 credits
  • PEA mine plan produces 1.46 Mt LCE and 64.9 Mt MgSO4 LOM over 40 years

 

Mine Life & Production

  • Simple truck and shovel open pit mining of the shallow resource underpins the scalable, long-life, lithium project producing approximately 24,000 tpa LCE over Years 1-6 expanding to 48,000 tpa LCE production for Years 7-19 years when mining ceases. Rehandling of the >1,000 parts per million stockpile allows production to continue for Years 20-40.
  • Average LOM Production of approximately 38,000 tpa LCE for 40 years.
  • Targeted 1,400 ppm Li average feed grade pit-constrained resource supports mining for 19 years and processing >1,000 ppm Li stockpile for an additional 21 years.
  • 1,400 ppm feed material beneficiation increases the head grade to leaching to 2,000 ppm Li.
  • LOM Strip Ratio (Waste:Ore) of 0.93:1 with a maximum final pit depth of ~325-350’, well above the water table depth.
  • Where possible progressive reclamation of mining areas is planned along with in-pit back-filling of waste rock and filtered tailings.
  • Sulfuric acid leaching using industry standard techniques and flowsheet produces high purity lithium carbonate to enable the production of battery grade LCE or LiOH.
    • PEA study estimates that for an additional $100M (Installed) Capex, and $406/t LCE Opex, a final conversion and refining processing step will enable the production of battery grade LiOH; or
    • End users have the flexibility of acquiring high purity LCE from TLC and converting it themselves to whichever product is required.
  • Magnesium sulphate (monohydrate) is an increasingly important fertilizer add-on product with a large and growing global market. High-purity hydrated products (heptahydrate & epsom salts) are used in the food, personal care and water quality industries.

 

Table 1 – TLC Project PEA Key Highlights

 

Description Units Base Case Alternate Case
LCE Selling Price $/tonne $20,000 $20,000
Life of Mine years 40 40
Processing Rate P1 / P21 ROM Mtpa 4.4 / 8.8 4.4 / 8.8
Average Throughput (LOM) tpa 8,112,415 8,112,415
LCEProduced (average LOM)1 tpa 38,157 38,157
P1 LCE Production (steady state) tpa 24,000 24,000
P2 LCE Production (steady state) tpa 48,000 48,000
LCE Produced (total LOM)1 tonnes 1,462,913 1,462,913
Unit Operating Cost (OPEX) LOM2 $/LCE tonne 7,443 817
MgSO4 Produced (average LOM)1 tpa n/a 1,663,213
MgSO4 Selling Price $/tonne n/a 150
Gross Revenue incl. Power & MgSO4 Credits $ B 29.7 39.4
Capital Cost (CAPEX)3 P1 $ M 819 827
Capital Cost (CAPEX)3 LOM $ M 1,431 1,439
Sustaining Capital Costs (undiscounted) $ M 792 763
Project Economics
Pre-tax:
Net Present Value (NPV) (8%) U$ M 3,642 6,056
Internal Rate of Return (IRR) % 28.8 38.6
Initial Payback Period (undiscounted) years 3.6 3.6
Average Annual Cash Flow (LOM) $ M 435 684
Cumulative Cash Flow (undiscounted) $ M 16,147 25,860
After-tax:4
Net Present Value (NPV)8%) Post-Tax $ M 3,261 5,157
Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Post-Tax % 27.5 36.0
Payback Period (undiscounted) years 3.8 3.7
Average Annual Cash Flow (LOM) $ M 396 591
Cumulative Cash Flow (undiscounted) $ M 14,617 22,219

Notes:

  1. Production: base case is 2 phases, 4.4Mtpa and 8.8Mtpa throughput; alternative case is identical, but with production of magnesium sulfate co-product over life of operations.
  2. Includes all operating expenditures with credit for excess power and revenue from MgSO4 production as offset to Unit LCE Opex, the estimate is expected to fall within an accuracy level of ±30%.
  3. Includes 10% contingency on process plant capital costs, 10% contingency is included in the tailings and infrastructure costs, and closure costs (LOM).
  4. Tax calculation estimates were completed by Mining Tax Plan LLP, and include Federal Taxes, all Nevada State taxes and royalties and Nye County Property tax estimates, and available producer tax credits.

 

Sensitivities

 

The project is most sensitive to LCE price and process costs, but relatively far less sensitive to capital costs and mining costs, in descending order of affect (see Table 2, and Figures 1 and 2, below).

 

Table 2 – TLC Project Metal Pricing NPV8% and IRR Sensitivity

 

Sensitivity ($)/t -30% -20% -10% Base Case
$20,000/t
10% 20% 30%
Pre-tax NPV8% (millions) $1,243 $2,042 $2,842 $3,641 $4,441 $5,240 $6,040
Pre-tax IRR (%) 16.3 20.7 24.9 28.8 32.5 36.0 39.4

 

Figure 1 – Base Case Pre-Tax NPV8 Sensitivity Graph

 

Figure 2 – Base Case Pre-Tax IRR Sensitivity Graph

 

Mining

 

Based on the analysis completed by Stantec, the TLC Project is highly amenable for development by conventional open pit truck and shovel operation. The Base Case and Alternative Case have identical LOM production plans and schedules.

 

Table 3 – Mining Rates

 

Parameter Unit Value
Mine Production Life Years 40 (includes 2-year production ramp up)1
Material mined Mt 607
ROM head grade to beneficiation ppm Li 1400
Head Grade to Leach ppm Li 2000
Recovered LCE LOM Mt 1.41
Waste LOM Mt 292.5
Total Mineralize Material throughput LOM Mt 315.3
Strip Ratio (LOM) (tw:to) 0.93
  1. 2 years construction, including 1 year Capitalized pre-production mining; 2-year production ramp-up with 75% nameplate in Year 2.

 

Table 4 – Detailed Capital Cost Estimates:

 

Capital Costs
Phase 1

Phase 2

LOM
($ millions)
Mining (pre-strip and capital) 56.3 56.3
Processing plant – Direct costs 424.5 228.8 653.3
Processing plant/mine – Infrastructure 45.9 sustaining 45.9
Tailings & bulk infrastructure1 49.8 sustaining 49.8
Total Direct Costs 576.5 228.8 805.3
Total Indirect Costs (Process Plant)2 181.9 316.8 498.7
Contingency (Process Plant)10% 60.6 54.7 115.3
Closure Costs (captured in sustaining) 25
TOTAL – Li Only Base Case 819.0 600.3 1,431
Added Plant Capex for MgSO4 Production 23.8 23.8 47.6
TOTAL – Li + MgSO4 (includes tailings savings) 827.0   1,439
Sustaining Capital Costs – Li only 765.5
Sustaining Capital Costs – Li + MgSO4 735.9
  1. Tailings built in phases and included in P1 capital cost estimate and sustaining capital for remaining LOM
  2. Includes EPCM, spares, insurances, owners’ team.

 

Flat 24,000 t LCE Production Scenarios

 

As part of the PEA modeling and design work, DRA Global and Stantec were also requested to evaluate flat 24,000 t/year LCE production scenarios without any production ramp-up using the identical 1,400 ppm Li feed scenario. The flat scenarios both have 20 years of mining followed by processing of stockpiled material for Years 21 to 36.

 

The two additional scenarios are as follows:

  • Case 3: Flat 24 kt/a LCE – Stand-alone Li-only production
  • Case 4: Flat 24 kt/a LCE – Li and Magnesium Sulfate co-production
 

Table 5 – Capital and Operating Cost Estimates

Case Initial Capital
(millions US$)
LOM Capital
(millions US$)
US$/t LCE with
power credit
US$/t LCE with
MgSO4 credit
Base Case 819 1431 7429
Alternate Case 827 1439 7429 843
Case 3 813 813 7543
Case 4 822 822 7543 1,330

 

Table 6 – Financial Model Estimate Results Comparison

 

  Recovered
LCE
Recovered
MgSO4
Pre-Tax
Comparison
Case t/a average kt/a average NPV (M US$) IRR (%)
Base Case 38,157 0 $3,629 28.8%
Alternate Case 38,157 1,681 $6,030 38.6%
Case 3 21,930 0 $2,136 27.5%
Case 4 21,930 909 $3,592 38.2%

 

Qualified Persons

Joan Kester, PG and Derek Loveday, P. Geo. of Stantec Consulting Ltd., Independent Qualified Persons as defined by National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects, have prepared or supervised the preparation of, or have reviewed and approved, the scientific and technical data pertaining to the Mineral Resource estimates contained in this release.

 

Satjeet Pander, P.Eng. and Sean Ennis, P.Eng of Stantec Consulting Ltd., Independent Qualified Persons as defined by NI 43-101, have prepared or supervised the preparation of, or have reviewed and approved, the scientific and technical data pertaining to mining, mine scheduling, and tailings management contained in this release.

 

John Joseph Riordan, BSc, CEng, FAuslMM, MIChemE, RPEQ, of DRA Pacific (Pty) Ltd., and Valentine Eugene Coetzee, BEng, Meng, P.Eng. of DRA Projects SA Pty Ltd., Independent Qualified Persons as defined by NI 43-101, have prepared or supervised the preparation of, or have reviewed and approved the scientific and technical metallurgical information and financial modelling results contained in this news release.

 

Mr. Ted O’Connor, P.Geo., Executive Vice President of American Lithium, and a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects, has also reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information contained in this news release.

 

In accordance with NI 43-101, the Company intends to file the completed technical report on the PEA under the Company’s profile on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) and on the Company’s website within 45 days from the date of this news release.

 

About DRA Global Limited (ASX: DRA | JSE: DRA), as lead engineer, is a diversified global engineering, project delivery and operations management group headquartered in Perth, Australia, with an impressive track record completing over 300 unique projects worldwide spanning more than three decades. Known for its collaborative approach and extensive experience in project development and delivery, as well as turnkey operations and maintenance services, DRA Global delivers optimal solutions that are tailored to meet clients’ needs. DRA Global, through its subsidiary, DRA Met-Chem, has a team of lithium process and metallurgical experts that identify the process requirements through flowsheet development and process equipment is selected to minimize costs and ensure plant efficiency.

 

About Stantec Consulting Ltd., a full-service engineering and consulting firm, has extensive experience in surface mineable stratiform deposits in North American and internationally. Stantec has been involved in the evaluation and design of several lithium projects with services spanning from environmental studies, geological modeling, resource and reserve estimates, mining engineering, hydrology and hydrogeology, geotechnical engineering, and tailings, waste, and water management facility design. The company specializes in helping mining companies to reach their net zero mining goals.

 

About Mining Tax Plan LLP. Mining Tax Plan LLC specializes in U.S. federal and state income taxation including foreign income taxation of precious metal, non-metallic ores, coal and quarry mining companies. They have extensive experience with extractive and natural resource industries and have provided consulting services to clients in such areas as mergers and acquisitions, corporate distributions, restructuring and foreign investment. In addition, they specialize in state mineral property and severance taxes in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah.

 

About American Lithium

American Lithium, a member of the TSX Venture 50, is actively engaged in the development of large-scale lithium projects within mining-friendly jurisdictions throughout the Americas. The Company is currently focused on enabling the shift to the new energy paradigm through the continued development of its strategically located TLC lithium claystone project in the richly mineralized Esmeralda lithium district in Nevada, as well as continuing to advance its Falchani lithium and Macusani uranium development-stage projects in southeastern Peru. Both Falchani and Macusani have been through robust preliminary economic assessments, exhibit strong significant expansion potential and enjoy strong community support. Pre-feasibility work has now commenced at Falchani.

Posted February 1, 2023

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