Western Lithium Announces Name Change to Lithium Americas and Provides Corporate Update
March 22, 2016
Vancouver, BC, Canada: Western Lithium USA Corporation (“Western Lithium” or “the Company” TSX: WLC; OTCQX: WLCDF) is pleased to announce that further to guidance provided in our December 2015 conference call in connection with new branding initiatives, Western Lithium has changed its corporate name to Lithium Americas Corp. (“Lithium Americas” or “LAC”), and its wholly owned subsidiary, Western Lithium Corporation, to Lithium Nevada Corp. (“Lithium Nevada” or “LNC”). Effective Wednesday, March 30th the Company will commence trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) under the new name and symbol “LAC” and on the OTCQX, under the new name with a symbol to be announced prior to the effective date. The simplified business structure of Lithium Americas is as follows:
Update on Minera Exar and Argentina Reforms:
The Company remains in advanced discussions with potential strategic partners at Cauchari-Olaroz and hopes to make an announcement soon. Given the strong global demand for lithium and the fully permitted status of the Cauchari-Olaroz project, the Company frequently receives indications of interest from leading companies representing different parts of the lithium supply chain from various parts of the world. Lithium Americas has been evaluating potential strategic partners and new extraction processing technologies in comparison to the economics established in the 2012 definitive Feasibility Study (“dFS”) using traditional processing.
At the recent Prospectors & Dealers Association Conference in Toronto, the Argentine Minister for Energy and Mines gave a presentation summarizing “Argentina is Waiting for You; the Best is Yet to Come” highlighting how Argentina in just 20 years, and despite the last decade’s challenges, is among the world’s top producers of lithium, boron, silver, gold, copper, lead, and zinc.
Since taking office in December 2015, President Mauricio Macri has moved swiftly to appoint a business-friendly cabinet and implement a series of major fiscal, political and regulatory policy measures. President Macri lifted foreign exchange controls that had been in place since 2011, and abolished export taxes on many agricultural and industrial goods, including lithium. At the Davos World Economic Forum, Macri and his cabinet members met with almost 20 world leaders, politicians, and multinational executives, which marked a “new era of bilateral relations”. US President Barack Obama will visit Argentina to meet with Mr. Macri at the end of this month.
Minera Exar S.A. President Franco Mignacco commented, “We have recently spent considerable time with the new government officials in provincial and federal mining positions, as well as the new appointments at our local partner JEMSE. Like many others, we are impressed with the rate of positive change and commitment of strong support on all levels. These are important indications of a very strong future for the mining industry in Argentina that will positively benefit all of our stakeholders and communities.”
Update on Hectatone Inc.:
The Company is pleased to report that it is in discussions with several parties that could result in new global distribution agreements outside of the North American oilfield market. Mutual due diligence and product testing is on-going. Hectatone Inc. (“Hectatone”) shipped 140 tons of finished product in February and has additional orders to ship in March. Drilling activity in almost all energy markets continues to decline. However, there are recent and encouraging signs that many global energy markets are beginning to stabilize.
Hectatone President Frank B. Wright, Jr. commented, "This is a productive and creative period for the Hectatone business. The opportunity to collaborate with strategic partners on a global basis in diverse markets is encouraging. The Hectatone team has responded to the declining oilfield market with innovative product development for industrial and environment markets. Additionally, we are seeking to take advantage of the downturn by expanding our talented team. I remain confident that our objective of becoming cash flow positive by year-end is a realistic and achievable goal, and that we will emerge from the bottom of the cycle as a stronger company”.
Update on Lithium Nevada Corp.:
The Company is completing the pilot plant programs at its demonstration plant in Germany. This work has greatly increased the Company’s understanding of the processing and engineering requirements for the production of lithium products from the Lithium Nevada Project. In light of the recent results, the Company has determined that additional specific engineering work will be required to optimize the front end of the process to produce a clean and concentrated lithium brine on a commercial scale. In addition, the Company has become aware of recent technological advancements in producing lithium compounds from brines, and believes these innovative and sustainable technologies warrant further review for potential incorporation into the Nevada processing plant design.
As a result of these additional reviews, the Company has initiated the preparation of a new preliminary Feasibility Study. The new report will include a thorough analysis of project development and operational components, include processing infrastructure, production rate, and supporting inputs, as well as capital and operating expenditures. In the meantime, the Company has determined that its pre-feasibility study completed in March 2012 is no longer current and the Company will no longer be relying on the study for its project development planning. There are no changes to the lithium resource base on the project. While the updated studies are underway, Lithium Nevada will pursue strategic partnership opportunities to advance the project on a timely basis.
Lithium Americas CEO Tom Hodgson commented, “Extracting lithium from clays at a commercial scale level requires vision, capital, and talent. We are always in the process of trying to determine the optimal path to advance our projects to achieve long-term success, and we are excited with a new focus from the team at Lithium Nevada Corp. In today's strong lithium market, there is no question that LNC's resource in Nevada represents tremendous long-term value. The Lithium Nevada Project hosts one of the largest lithium resources in North America. There is strong local and national support from both commercial and political bases to advance a Nevada based project. A clear and well-defined permitting path exists. Lithium Americas shares the vision of making Nevada a center of renewable energy and sustainable mining technologies. We are absolutely committed to advancing Lithium Nevada Corp. on the fastest timetable possible, as dictated by further studies and market conditions.”
Update on Management and Board of Directors:
Lithium Americas is pleased to announce that the Company’s Vice Chairman, John Kanellitsas, is being named President, effective as of the Company’s Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) on March 30th. Current President, Jay Chmelauskas will be leaving the Company in order to pursue other interests. In this context, Mr. Chmelauskas has withdrawn his name as a director nominee at the AGM.
John Macken, Chairman of the Board commented “We thank Jay for his service to the Company over many years, and his efforts in initiating the merger of the two companies. We wish him every success in his future endeavours. Following the merger of Western Lithium and Lithium Americas in September 2015, the combined company has emerged with strong and capable management, and an exciting future.”
Scientific and technical information in this news release about the Lithium Nevada Project has been approved by Dennis Bryan, a qualified person for purposes of National Instrument 43-101.
For further information contact:
Lithium Americas Corp.
1100 – 355 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC, V6C 2G8
Statements in this release that are forward-looking information are subject to various risks and uncertainties concerning the specific factors disclosed here and elsewhere in the company's periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. When used in this document, the words such as “expect,” “believe,” “planned”, “scheduled,” “targeting” and similar expressions is forward-looking information. Information provided in this document is necessarily summarized and may not contain all available material information.
Statements in this release that constitute forward-looking statements or information include, but are not limited to: (i) completion of a transaction with a strategic partner at Cauchari-Olaroz; and (ii) the timing and results of an updated economic analysis on the Lithium Nevada Project.
All such forward-looking information and statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company’s management in light of their experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors management believes are appropriate in the circumstances. These statements, however, are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information or statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ from these forward-looking statements include those described under the heading "Risks Factors" in the Company's most recently filed MD&A. The Company does not intend, and expressly disclaims any obligation to, update or revise the forward-looking information contained in this news release, except as required by law. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information or statements.