There is no record of any previous owner (other than the Republic of Chile Government) having formally made use of or claimed any of the Properties for short or long term residential or commercial reasons. Mining concessions (either of exploration or exploitation) are granted in Chile by virtue of a judicial resolution given in accordance with a special procedure established in the Chilean Mining Code.
Geology and Hydrology of the Salar de Llamara
The Andean ranges in northernmost Chile can be divided into a number of generally north - south orientated fault bounded physiographic provinces. An offshore Peru-Chile oceanic trench is bordered on the east by the Cordillera de la Costa. Further east is the variously termed Central Depression; Longitudinal Valley, or Pampa del Tamarugal/Salar de Llamara ("Pampa") sloping up to the Precordillera and the volcanic Cordillera Occidental, which, with the Cordillera Oriental, contains the high plateau variously denominated as the Altiplano or Puna.
Precipitation that occurs at higher elevations of the Andes Mountains reports to Tertiary fluvial braided fans which ultimately feed significant aquifers that flow beneath the Central Depression. The alluvial fans are incised by ephemerally active canyons and the talus of the median and distal fans locally masks underlying lake sediment accumulations of numerous salars including the Salar de Llamara. The Cerro (peak) Soledad range is located within the Salar de Llamara. The Salar de Llamara is incised by the Rio Loa river canyon forming the ultimate drainage outlet to the Pampa del Tamarugal aquifer.
The underlying lake sediments of the Salar de Llamara host a partly closed basin aquifer, which has a longitudinal axis of approximately 60 km in a NNW-SSE direction and 25 km in an E-W direction, bounded to the S and W by a sub outcrop of impermeable rocks. The present day submerged basin covers an area of approximately 1300 km(2), exclusive of the area taken up by the impermeable basement (Mesozoic, 65-248 Mya) and older inliers of cerros Salar, Mogote, Hilaricos and Soledad, which protrude through the lacustrine sediments and form prominent hills above the Salar de Llamara. The Properties are situated within the western and central portion of the Salar de Llamara respectively at an elevation between approximately 750-800 m.a.s.l. in an area that has an exceptionally long geological history of aridity in the Atacama Desert, particularly during the post Oligocene period when the region has been continuously the most arid region on Earth with high evaporation and evapo-transpiration rates.
During a period spanning many decades the search for potable, irrigation and industrial quality water within the Pampa del Tamarugal has led to numerous exploration efforts and scientific studies of the upper portion of its vast, mostly saline, subterranean aquifers, including those of the Salar de Llamara by governmental and private institutions.
During 1994, the Department of Scientific and Technological Research of the Catholic University of Chile ("DICTUC"), who were consultants to Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. ("SQM"), in addition to work conducted by government on the Salar de Llamara aquifer ("SdLA"), published their initial estimates of the hydrology of the upper aquifer as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA"). DICTUC further refined their hydrological model of the upper aquifer based on evaporation test work, ongoing borehole water level monitoring, pumping tests and transient electromagnetic surveys ("TEM"). Based on these studies, they produced further estimates of the recharge, evaporation, transpiration and discharge rates for three main upper aquifer sub basins.
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