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Li3 Energy reports Maricunga is highly ranked by latest SignumBOX report

Li3 Energy (OTC:LIEG) announced Thursday that its Maricunga project in Chile was independently ranked by local firm SignumBOX as among the top 11 lithium projects in the world, of 50 other such deposits.

According to the report, which was commissioned by Li3, the project has a SignumBOX General Index of 3.23, slightly higher than the average, while its SignumBOX Geophysical Index of 3.60 is 50% higher than the average.

According to SignumBOX, since Maricunga is at an early stage, the company has the potential to improve both indexes, with a 5.0 score being the higest, and become the number one lithium project in salar-bearing brine deposits.

Indeed, the property, in which Li3 has a controlling interest, has the potential to be a source of lithium, potassium and boron. The company recently signed a deal with one of the world's largest steel manufacturers, South Korea-based POSCO (NYSE:PKX), to jointly explore and develop the Maricunga project, including the establishment of a commercial plant.

This is because one of the primary uses for lithium is in the production of batteries for hybrid and electic vehicles. As demand for these cars increase, so will the world's requirements for lithium, resulting in many battery and automakers in Korea and Japan partnering with lithium exploration companies to ensure a steady supply.

Maricunga covers an area of approximately 1,438 hectares, comprising six concessions, and is located in the northeast section of the Salar de Maricunga in Region III of Atacama.

"These are very exciting times for Li3, as we are making excellent progress in our initial development site work at Maricunga," said COO Tom Currin.

"We are thrilled with the latest SignumBOX Index results and Li3 is extremely confident in completing the items listed to improve our performance index ranking and possibly achieving the #1 ranking."

The company said indexes could be improved by confirming lithium and potassium concentrations at the site, as well as by the completion of a pre-feasibility study, and the receipt of government and environmental approvals. Furthermore, the start of the construction of a pilot plant at the project would also boost its score on the indexes.

Maricunga is located in close proximity to the mining city of Copiapo, and sodium chloride and other potassium salts could potentially be by-products from the site, placing the project at an advantage to other Chilean salars. Maricunga also has one of the highest lithium concentrations, extensions and lithium potassium ratios.

After the Atacama project in Chile, Li3's Maricunga has the second highest quality deposit of lithium in the country, said SignumBOX.

Historical work over Maricunga has calculated a non compliant mineral resource of 224,300 tonnes of lithium and 3.27 million tonnes of potash. A recent report estimates that it is possible to develop an NI 43-101 compliant resource similar to the historical one.

In addition, production from the property is expected to be lower cost than other Chilean salars, as sulphate in the brine is unusually low, reducing the need for additional reagents for sulphate removal. Electrical and road infrastructure is also in place to support preliminary development.

 Li3, which looks for lithium properties in Peru, Argentina and Chile, has begun the initial $3.8 million development work program on the project, placing Maricunga into feasibility stage. A preliminary economic assessment report is anticipated by the end of the fourth quarter.