Premier positioning in Lithium Triangle
November 21, 2017
Now, all metals investors are familiar with the lithium story. The spike in demand for lithium ion batteries – especially for the electric vehicle market – has created a new bull market for the lithium sector. One junior miner that is poised for success in this bull market is Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp (TSX: V.LIT, OTCQB: PNXLF, Forum).
The Lithium Triangle is known as the best place in the world to find lithium. The Lithium Triangle is a geographically arid region divided among three South American nations: Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. Currently this region produces roughly 50% of the world’s lithium. However, it hosts approximately 70% of the world’s known reserves of lithium. This translates into significant untapped potential for more lithium production.
The Lithium Triangle is a very large region, more than 10,000 square kilometers. That is a lot of potential area to explore for lithium. So where is the best place for a junior mining company to start looking? The fable “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” comes to mind.
Chile is well known as a mining jurisdiction. Its borders have been open for foreign mining operations for many decades. This also means that almost all of the prospective land for lithium exploration and development has already been claimed by various miners. Chile is too hot.
Bolivia is a much different story. That nation has been notorious for closing its borders to foreign mining operations. Only recently has Bolivia begun to open up its mining, but its leftist government is still viewed with suspicion by much of the mining industry. Bolivia is too cold.
Then there is Argentina. At one time, Argentina’s mining industry was also closed off to foreign investment. That changed roughly a quarter century ago. Since that time, this nation has become a much friendlier jurisdiction for foreign mining operations.
However, mining is an industry with a long time-horizon for development. Even after 25 years, much of this very large nation remains underexplored for mineralization – including within the Lithium Triangle. Argentina is just right.
When it comes to mining in Argentina, one name stands out for investors, the Grosso Group. Founded by Joseph Grosso, this holding company was formed with one purpose in mind: leveraging its experience and expertise in Argentinian mining into profits for its shareholders.
The Grosso Group is best known for three major successes in precious metals: the Navidad Silver Project (now owned by Pan American Silver), the Chinchillas Silver Project (Golden Arrow Resources), and the Guacalmayo Gold Mine (Yamana Gold). Now it’s looking for “green gold” – lithium.
The investment vehicle for the Grosso Group’s lithium operations is Argentina Lithium. Argentina is the best place to look for lithium in the Lithium Triangle. Argentina Lithium is the best way to capitalize on lithium in Argentina.
The Company is not merely relying upon its reputation. Already, LIT has been active in acquiring two, premier land packages within the Lithium Triangle. Exploration is well under way, and set to accelerate as we move into 2018.
Argentina Lithium has already been introduced to the Stockhouse audience, in a full-length feature article from March 2017. At that time, the Company had executed an agreement to acquire a 100% interest in its premier land package: the Arizaro Lithium Project. This property is located in the Arizaro Salar in Salta Province, Argentina.
Arizaro is a salar that covers 1,600 km2, making it the third largest salar in the entire Lithium Triangle. This is a hyper-arid region, receiving an average of less than 30 mm rainfall per year – ideal for the evaporation operations of lithium brine production. With a large land package of 20,500 hectares, this provides the Company with ample space to produce lithium at optimal efficiency.
Management notes that development of other salars in Argentina has been hampered by a shortage of fresh water. While lithium production requires an arid climate, it also uses considerable volumes of water for processing. At Arizaro, the Company was quick to secure access to its own water source.
Exploration at Arizaro is already underway. Electrical geophysical work in the spring identified the conductive and semi-conductive zones that represent targets for lithium exploration. A May news release noted particularly thick conductive zones toward the north and west portions of the property.
Based on that work, the Company planned an initial drilling program of 3 – 4 holes, down to a depth of approximately 400 meters. That work commenced in October and the first results have just been released, with a total of three holes drilled.
Anomalous levels of lithium were identified between depths of 15 and 356 meters, with values as high as 257 mg/l. Some of the assays from the third drill hole (from the South Block) are still pending. Management was pleased with these initial results, but noted an important caveat. LIT’s President and CEO, Nikolaos Cacos explains.
Our model for this property was for a brine aquifer at depth, so we were pleased to have anomalous results in our first two holes. These results support the theory of a source aquifer below where we were able to reach, therefore we are continuing our exploration to pinpoint the best location and depth to continue testing. [emphasis mine]
Generally speaking, lithium concentrations improve at depth in these salars. This is a simple function of gravity: the heavier lithium mineralization tends to settle at lower depths. In most salars, at depths of 400 meters lithium concentrations are already at/near their maximum.
However, as an especially large salar, Arizaro also runs deep. The Company is looking to produce even more robust numbers when it delves deeper with its next round of drilling, due to commence in December. Investors will also be eager to view the unreleased assays from the third drill hole at Arizaro.
While Arizaro remains the flagship project, in early November LIT announced locking up a second land package, a 100% interest in Incahuasi Salar, situated in Catamarca Province, Argentina. This is another large property. The 23,700 hectares comprises the entire salar. Previous sampling of near-surface brines has yielded values as high as 409 mg/l of lithium.
A geo-electrical survey has already been conducted at Incahuasi, suggesting high-conductivity zones that start near surface and extend up to 200 meters depth. In a conference call with Stockhouse Editorial, CEO Cacos noted that the combination of the geo-electrical survey results and surface sampling indicates that Incahuasi could evolve into a particularly high-grade lithium deposit. This makes management also eager to send in a drill rig to Incahuasi, currently planned for early in 2018.
While the Grosso Group means getting access to some of the most prospective properties in Argentina, it also means access to some of the best talent in Argentina’s mining industry. A case in point is Dr. Daniel Galli.
LIT’s Director of Technical Operations, Dr. Galli is a Professor of Thermaldynamics at the National University of Jujuy, Argentina. Included in his expertise, from 2006 – 2013 Dr. Galli was Technical Director of the Rin?on Lithium Project. During that time he developed and patented a process for the production of lithium carbonate and battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
Dr. Galli’s focus is to produce lithium (and other chemical elements found in brines) with minimal environmental impact while maximizing lithium recovery. With such in-house expertise, LIT possesses the skill set and experience necessary to take a lithium project all the way to production.
With highly prospective properties and a strong team to advance these projects, the Company is located in the right place for lithium exploration. As already noted, the Lithium Triangle is the premier destination for lithium exploration, and Argentina is arguably the best jurisdiction within the Lithium Triangle – already the world’s 3rd largest lithium producing nation.
Salta Province, home of the Arizaro Project, is especially mining-friendly. The Provincial government has been outspoken in promoting its jurisdiction for lithium exploration and production. Catamarca Province, the location of Incahuasi, is also a province with a strong mining footprint.
In addition, Arizaro benefits from being strategically located to infrastructure. There is already road access. The property is proximal to both power and rail. And the international port of Antofagasta (Chile) is located approximately 450 km to the west.
With the bull market for lithium, many investors will view lithium as the right metal in which to invest. For many reasons, Argentina is the right place to explore for lithium. And for investors looking for a prospective company in Argentina, like Goldilocks, many will view LIT as being “just right”.