Initiated activities to establish and organize our operating presence in South America and, to that end, opened and began staffing our executive office in Lima, Peru;
Have begun identifying and investigating additional lithium mining investment opportunities in North and South America.
Li3 Energy, Inc. (Li3 Energy), formerly NanoDynamics Holdings, Inc., is an exploration stage-company. The Company focuses on the discovery and development of lithium and potassium brine, and nitrate and iodine deposits in Chile, Argentina and Peru. During the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010 (fiscal 2010), Li3 Energy acquired, or signed definitive agreements to acquire, properties in Nevada, Argentina, Peru and Chile. On August 3, 2010, it acquired Alfredo. In February 2010, it acquired 100% of the assets of the Loriscota, Suches and Vizcachas Projects located respectively in the regions of Puno, Tacna and Moquegua, Peru. In July 2010, it acquired Noto Energy S.A., which owns a 100% interest over 2,995 acres situated on brine salars in Argentina, named Cauchari. In May 2011, it acquired a 60% interest in a group of six private companies that collectively owned the Maricunga Project in northern Chile. Maricunga project comprises 1,438 hectares in a mining region.
Our strategic plan is to explore and develop our existing projects and to identify opportunities and generate new projects with near-term production potential, with the goal of becoming a company with valuable lithium or industrial minerals properties. Our primary objective is to become a low cost lithium producer as well as a significant producer of potassium nitrate. The key to achieving this objective is to become an integrated chemical company through the strategic acquisition and development of lithium assets as well as other assets that have by-product synergies.
We recorded an impairment charge to Alfredo of $4,070,000 during the year ended June 30, 2011, due to termination of the option on the Alfredo Property as a result of our not having made required option payments.
We have acquired the Maricunga project, an advanced lithium and potassium chloride project in Chile, and we continue to explore other lithium and industrial minerals prospects in the region, located to complement the Alfredo project, which we intend to secure, in order to achieve integration of operations to produce metallurgical grade lithium, commercial grade fertilizer and pharmaceutical grade iodine.
Our strategy currently principally involves the exploration of the Maricunga property and the acquisition and exploration of an iodine/nitrate property. On the Maricunga project, we expect to spend approximately $18.2 million of exploration and development expenses in order to complete a feasibility study on Maricunga. (A "feasibility study" means a comprehensive study of a mineral deposit in which all geological, engineering, legal, operating, economic, social, environmental and other relevant factors are considered in sufficient detail that it could reasonably serve as the basis for a final decision whether to advance the development of the deposit for mineral production). The Company is dividing this into two phases: (i) Spending $8 million to reach a Measured and Indicated 43-101compliant resource, which is expected in the first calendar quarter of 2012; and, if phase one is successful, (ii) spending $10 million to complete a feasibility study on the Maricunga project. If we acquire the Alfredo Property, we would expect to spend approximately $6.3 million of acquisition costs (not including an additional up to $5.5 million payable to Alfredo Sellers upon certain post-feasibility milestones), and we would expect to incur approximately $2.7 million of exploration expenses in order to bring the Alfredo Property to the feasibility stage. In the event we are unable to acquire the Alfredo Property, we will focus our efforts on the exploration of the Maricunga property, and we are actively exploring opportunities to acquire other iodine/sodium nitrate prospects in addition to or in lieu of the Alfredo property, although there can be no assurance that suitable prospects will be available on terms acceptable to us or that any such acquisition will be successfully completed.
As a result of the funds invested by investors in our April and May 2011 private placement and the funds invested by POSCAN on September 14, 2011, we estimate that we have sufficient funds to carry out our current strategic plan of exploration and development and meet our ongoing operational working capital needs through March 2012 (assuming we do not expend cash for other acquisitions). In order to finance the up to approximately $15 million of expected acquisition and exploration costs outlined above over the next twelve months, as well as to fund the approximately $2.5 million of working capital we expect to require over the next twelve months, we will need to raise a substantial amount of funds through one or more offerings of our debt, equity or convertible securities, which may include the $10 million of equity financing conditionally committed by POSCAN. There can be no assurance that such financing will be available, or will be available on acceptable terms, for us to meet these requirements.
In order to acquire the Alfredo Property, we must successfully complete negotiation and documentation of a new option or other acquisition agreement. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in obtaining a new option on, or otherwise acquiring, Alfredo or in financing the cost of acquiring the Alfredo Property or the costs of exploring and developing Alfredo and Maricunga.
We believe that successful execution of this first phase of our strategic acquisition program will establish Li3 Energy as a major holder of prime lithium, iodine and nitrate acreage among junior lithium explorers.
About Li3 Energy, Inc.
Li3 Energy, Inc. is an exploration and developmental stage public company in the lithium mining and energy sector. Li3 aims to acquire, develop and commercialize a significant portfolio of lithium brine deposits in the Americas. With its controlling interest in its Maricunga Project, Li3's goals are to; a) support the global implementation of clean and green energy initiatives; b) meet growing lithium market demand; and c) become a mid-tier, low cost supplier of lithium, potassium nitrate, iodine and other strategic minerals, serving global clients in the energy, fertilizer and specialty chemical industries. Additional information regarding the Company can be found in our recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") as well as the information maintained on our websitewww.li3energy.com.