Li3 Energy Closes Strategic Maricunga Acquisition and Financing Transaction


May 23, 2011, 03:00 ET from Li3 Energy, Inc.

LIMA, Peru, May 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Li3 Energy, Inc., (OTC.BB.LIEG) ("Li3", "Li3 Energy" or the "Company"), a US-listed and Peruvian-based global exploration company in the lithium and minerals sector, is pleased to announce that it has closed the previously announced acquisition of a 60% ownership in a group of six private companies (the "Companies") that collectively own the Maricunga Project in northern Chile.  Li3 believes that once commercialized, the strength and merit of this acquisition could establish Li3 as a global leader in the lithium and minerals sector.  With this controlling interest in the Maricunga property (ranked by SignumBOX as one of the top ten lithium projects in the world) and its other prospective strategic lithium and other mineral holdings, Li3 is now firmly focused on the acquisition and development of highly prospective lithium brine properties in the Americas.  

The key Maricunga project highlights include:

  • Comprising 1438 hectares in a world class mining region;
  • Independent NI 43-101 analysis performed by Hains Technology Associates deemed Maricunga a "Property of Merit" and concluded the project holds significant exploration potential for development as a source of lithium, potassium, iodine and boron;
  • Relatively low levels of sulphate in the brine for a Chilean salar, reducing the need for additional reagents for sulphate removal;
  • SignumBOX concluded that Maricunga has the second highest quality deposit of lithium known in Chile; and
  • Infrastructure (road & power) in place to support preliminary development of the Salar;

Luis Saenz, CEO of Li3 Energy, stated: "The successful closing of this acquisition is testament to the strength of the property. The Maricunga project was aggressively pursued and the closing is a major milestone that now establishes Li3 as a dominant lithium and minerals exploration company.  This strategic acquisition should become a flagship property and create long-term value to all of our stakeholders.  We plan to start our work program expenditures as soon as possible and have already started several tender processes for the camp and drilling programs."  

Juan Carlos Mendez, representative of the selling group, commented: "After an exhaustive process, with representatives in four countries, we are thrilled to have completed this transaction and look forward to joining the Li3 family, helping Maricunga achieve its fullest potential."  

With the acquisition and initial exploration funding complete, and the recently announced Memorandum of Understanding with POSCO (NYSE: PKX) to explore a strategic relationship, Li3 will now enter the feasibility phase on Maricunga and begin the initial $3.8 million work development program on the project.  Li3 will continue to explore synergistic opportunities to further augment and strengthen this property and its land portfolio throughout the region.  

Li3 successfully completed an aggregate of $8.9 million of financing, including a $6.4 million private placement offering of common stock and warrants (the "Offering") to fund the acquisition and initial work program.  Numerous existing long-term shareholders including LW Securities and Grafton Resources participated in the Offering and continue to support the Company.  Gottbetter Capital Markets, LLC, acted as lead placement agent for the Offering, with Rodman & Renshaw, LLC, acting as co-placement agent and LW Casa de Valores S.A. also participating.  

Li3 paid a total of $6.375 million in cash and issued an aggregate of 127,500,000 restricted shares of its common stock to the sellers and their agents in exchange for the 60% interest.  The sellers have agreed to restrictive trading/hedging covenants which also include; a nine-month lock-up on 50% of the shares, with the remaining 50% locked up for 18 months.  Three nominees of the sellers will also join Li3's board of directors and provide additional leadership and governance.

About Li3 Energy, Inc.

Li3 Energy, Inc. is a developmental stage public company in the lithium mining and energy sector focused on the identification and acquisition of properties in Peru, Argentina and Chile and the United States.  Li3 Energy aims to acquire a significant portfolio of lithium brine deposits in the Americas for the purpose of development and production in order to meet growing market demand and to support the clean energy and green energy initiatives being implemented globally.  Additional information regarding the company can be found in our recent current filings (Forms 8k, 10Q and 10K) with the SEC as well as the information maintained on our website  

Forward-Looking Statements

All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this news release including, without limitation, statements preceded by, followed by or that otherwise include the words "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "estimates," "projects," "potential," "target," "goal," "plans," "objective," "should" or similar expressions or variations on such expressions are forward-looking statements. The Company can give no assurances that the assumptions upon which the forward-looking statements are based will prove to be correct.  Because forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. There are a number of risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to:  the results of initial exploration, and the determination by Li3 and POSCO whether to pursue any of the transactions contemplated by the Memorandum of Understanding; the Company's ability to raise additional capital to complete exploration, development and commercialization of the Maricunga Project;  the Company's ability to identify appropriate corporate acquisition and/or joint venture opportunities in the lithium mining sector and to establish the technical and managerial infrastructure, and to raise the required capital, to take advantage of, and successfully participate in such opportunities; future economic conditions; political stability; and lithium prices.  For further information about certain risks faced by the Company, see "Risk Factors" in Part I, Item 1A of Amendment No. 1 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 5, 2010.

The Company disclaims any obligations or undertaking to publicly release any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained in this news release to reflect any change in its expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

SOURCE Li3 Energy, Inc.