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Wealth Minerals Announces Positive PEA for the Kuska Project, Ollague, Chile

04 January 2024
  • Highlights: Pre-tax NPV10% US$1.65 bn & 33% IRR

Vancouver, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - January 4, 2024) - Wealth Minerals Ltd. (TSXV: WML) (OTCQB: WMLLF) (SSE: WMLCL) (FSE: EJZN) (the "Company" or "Wealth") - announces reaching an important milestone in its development of the Kuska project (formerly known as the Ollagüe project) at the Salar de Ollagüe, Antofagasta region, Chile. The Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") has been produced by DRA Global, from the Toronto, Canada office, together with resource experts from Montgomery & Associates and other third-party consultants with pertinent qualifications.

Hendrik van Alphen, CEO Wealth Minerals Ltd., states: "We are extremely happy with the positive PEA results and this important milestone to develop the Kuska project at our Ollagüe salar concessions. The PEA is a quality study that has thoroughly incorporated all the technical investigation, field data and best industry practices necessary to make Kuska into a world-class lithium production operation. Given Wealth's long experience with Direct Lithium Extraction technology ("DLE"), we paid particular attention to this aspect of the PEA, incorporating an extensive selection process for the most suitable DLE equipment and technology providers."

Francisco Lepeley, Operative CEO Wealth Minerals Chile, states: "This is an important milestone in the development of our lithium projects in Chile and brings us one step closer to execution and production. Our Kuska project is being developed consistently with the National Lithium Strategy defined earlier this year by the Chilean government. We are incorporating into our development plan the use of environmentally friendly DLE technology, the active involvement and collaboration of the Quechua indigenous community, and prospective industry partnerships that may facilitate downstream processing of lithium into value-added products. The positive economic figures that come with this PEA are very good news to our WML shareholders, the Chilean state, and all other stakeholders."

Resource Estimate

The Kuska project has been based on the maiden resource report published by Wealth Minerals Ltd. ("Resource Report") (see press release January 17, 2023). The Resource Report estimates 741,000 tons Lithium Carbonate Equivalent ("LCE") indicated resources grading 175 mg/l (plus 701,000 tons LCE inferred resources grading 185 mg/l).

After the preparation of the Resource Report, the Company acquired an additional 2,500 ha of mineral concessions adjacent to the concessions covered in the Resource Report. To date, these new concessions have not been investigated for lithium.

Project

The PEA describes the Kuska project development towards a 20,000 metric tpa LCE output and an anticipated Life of Mine ("LOM") of 20 years. The Company intends to use a mature DLE technology (TRL 8 in the PEA) converting lithium-bearing brine into battery-grade Lithium Carbonate ("LC").

Wealth Minerals spent almost 1.5 years to analyze and select market-ready DLE technologies for the PEA. The final selected technology converts lithium-bearing brine into highly pure lithium chloride concentrate and a refinement step to convert the lithium-rich eluate into high purity lithium carbonate (>99.5% LC).

Operations will be scaled up in two phases. The initial phase envisions building out a mining operation and plant with a capacity of 10,000 tpa LCE, which will then be scaled up to double that capacity within two years with a second production module for a total of 20,000 tpa LCE at the Kuska project.

In addition, the preliminary plant concept includes process water recycling and waste treatment facilities for a minimum impact on the production area's environment. It is assumed to incorporate a maximum degree of renewable energy resource options.

Mining Method

The mining operation consists of a well field with necessary lithium-rich brine pumping capacity and a re-injection feed system to return Li-depleted brine back into the salar. The combination of wells and depleted brine operations, together with DLE methods, enable a near-zero environmental impact on the salar to preserve salar integrity and water equilibrium to the maximum extent possible.

Wealth intends to de-carbonize its lithium production operations as much as possible and has begun investigations into using renewable energy supplies that will power the production plant and associated infrastructure. Both solar and geothermal energy sources are targets of the Company's engineering team and consultants.

Economic Results

Economic results have been derived from data available at the time of PEA calculation and are based on pre-and post-tax assumptions. Royalties and other external financial distributions have not been considered at this time, as the Chilean policy regarding these matters is evolving.

The PEA estimates a pre-tax/pre-royalty NPV10 (10% discount rate) of US$1.65 bn an IRR of 33% for the project and an after-tax NPV10 of US$1.15 bn and a project IRR 28%.

Base-line Capital Expenditures ("CapEx") to realize project operations have been estimated at US$749 mn, which includes total administrative, direct, indirect, and contingency cost positions expected for equipment and construction. An extra US$44 mn amount to be spent in additional exploration works and permitting has been also incorporated.

Operating Expenses ("OpEx") during operations are estimated at US$5,849/ton LC and include reagents and consumables, maintenance, labor, energy, G&A, and transportation costs.

LC product pricing underlying the PEA has been sourced from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence services' Q4-2023 conservative case real scenario price-line over the production period. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence is a leading industry consultancy and research firm dedicated to the fast-growing global lithium market.

GreenStockNews
Chart 1

Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence - Lithium Forecast Q4 2023

Cash Flow Estimates

The Kuska projects' projected cash flow with the assumed base-line economic model parameters are graphically shown below (and at steady state projects total US$330 mn/year):

GreenStockNews
Chart 2

Sensitivity Analysis

An initial sensitivity analysis was conducted during the PEA study with parameters such as: LCE pricing, WACC, CapEx, OpEx, and tax rate within realistic potential ranges. The analysis includes how each variable impacts key project financial performance indicators of NPV and IRR.

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Chart 3

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Chart 4

About DRA Global Limited

DRA Global Limited (DRA or the Group) is an international multi-disciplinary engineering, project delivery and operations management group, predominantly focused on the mining, minerals and metals industry.

The Group has an extensive track record spanning almost four decades across a wide range of commodities. The Group has delivered more than 8,000 projects, studies and managed services solutions, and currently operate more than a dozen sites through its operations and maintenance division. Our teams have deep expertise in the mining, minerals and metals processing industries, as well as related non-process infrastructure such as, water, and energy solutions. We deliver comprehensive advisory, engineering and project delivery services throughout the capital project lifecycle, from concept through to operational readiness and commissioning as well as ongoing operations, maintenance and engineering services. We do this with a focus on sustainability and assisting clients to achieve their ESG goals.

DRA covers all major mining centres with offices across Africa and the Middle East, North and South America, and the Asia-Pacific.

About Montgomery & Associates

Montgomery & Associates (M&A) provides a range of hydrogeological services to address evolving client challenges throughout the western United States and South America. M&A specializes in groundwater, which is an essential resource in today's world. It is used to supply water and power to our communities, grow our food, sustain ecosystems, and support mining and industry, which are vital to our future. Groundwater is also a complex, shared, and limited resource, subject to hydrogeologic uncertainty, ever changing regulatory policies, debated legal doctrines, and socioeconomic forces that mandate its sustainable use. Understanding and complying with these conflicting rules of use requires diverse expertise.

About Wealth Minerals Ltd.

Wealth is a mineral resource company with interests in Canada and Chile. The Company's focus is the acquisition and development of lithium projects in South America.

The Company opportunistically advances battery metal projects where it has a peer advantage in project selection and initial evaluation. Lithium market dynamics and a rapidly increasing metal price are the result of profound structural issues with the industry meeting anticipated future demand. Wealth is positioning itself to be a major beneficiary of this future mismatch of supply and demand. In parallel with lithium market dynamics, Wealth believes other battery metals will benefit from similar industry trends.

For further details on the Company readers are referred to the Company's website (www.wealthminerals.com) and its Canadian regulatory filings on SEDAR at www.sedarplus.ca.

On Behalf of the Board of Directors of

WEALTH MINERALS LTD.

"Hendrik van Alphen"
Hendrik van Alphen
Chief Executive Officer

For further information, please contact:
Marla Ritchie, Michael Pound or Henk van Alphen
Phone: 604-331-0096 or 604-638-3886

For all Investor Relations inquiries, please contact:
John Liviakis
Liviakis Financial Communications Inc.
Phone: 415-389-4670

For all Public Relations inquiries, please contact:
Nancy Thompson
Vorticom, Inc.
Office: 212-532-2208 | Mobile: 917-371-4053

Follow Us:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WealthMineralsLtd
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/company/wealth-minerals
Twitter - https://www.twitter.com/WealthMinerals

Neither 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 press release, which has been prepared by management.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements and forward-looking information (collectively, "forward-looking statements") within the meaning of applicable Canadian and US securities legislation. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein including, without limitation, statements regarding the anticipated content, commencement, timing and cost of exploration programs, anticipated exploration program results, the discovery and delineation of mineral deposits/resources/reserves, the Company's expectation that it will be able to enter into agreements to acquire interests in additional mineral projects, and the anticipated business plans and timing of future activities of the Company, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as: believe, expect, anticipate, intend, estimate, postulate and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. The Company cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, the state of the financial markets for the Company's equity securities, the state of the commodity markets generally, variations in the nature, quality and quantity of any mineral deposits that may be located, variations in the market price of any mineral products the Company may produce or plan to produce, the inability of the Company to obtain any necessary permits, consents or authorizations required, including TSXV acceptance, for its planned activities, the inability of the Company to produce minerals from its properties successfully or profitably, to continue its projected growth, to raise the necessary capital or to be fully able to implement its business strategies, and other risks and uncertainties disclosed in the Company's latest interim Management Discussion and Analysis and filed with certain securities commissions in Canada. All of the Company's Canadian public disclosure filings may be accessed via www.sedar.com and readers are urged to review these materials, including the technical reports filed with respect to the Company's mineral properties.

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