Solaroz Lithium Brine Project
The Solaroz Lithium Project comprises the Solaroz Tenements totalling approximately 12,000 hectares located in the Jujuy Province in northern Argentina, approximately 230 kilometres north-west of the provincial capital city of Jujuy and lie at an altitude of approximately 3,900 metres.
The Solaroz Tenements are accessed by good quality road infrastructure. The Project’s location is supported by favorable conditions in terms of both the operating environment and local infrastructure. Very limited rainfall combined with dry, windy conditions create a favourable environment for the brine-evaporation process. The area is also serviced by a gas pipeline which intersects the Solaroz Tenements with high voltage electricity supply nearby. Three major seaports, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Antofagasta and Iquique in Chile, are serviced by international carriers and are accessible by road and/or rail from the Solaroz Lithium Project area.
The Solaroz Tenements are mostly adjacent to and principally surrounded by Tenements held by Orocobre Limited (ASX/TSX:ORE) and Lithium Americas Corporation (TSX/NYSE:LAC), within South America’s ‘Lithium Triangle’ in North- Western Argentina.
The Solaroz Lithium Project is located in the same Salar de Olaroz Basin as and directly adjacent to the producing Olaroz Lithium Facility (operated by Orocobre in a joint venture with Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TYO:8015)) producing lithium carbonate from lithium-rich brine extracted from bore fields drilled on the salar (salt lake).
The location of the Solaroz Lithium Project is considered by Lithium Energy to be highly strategic and prospective for containing commercial quantities and concentrations of lithium-rich brine upon the basis that Lithium Energy believes the aquifer which supplies the lithium-rich brine being extracted by Orocobre Limited is likely to extend under the Solaroz Tenements.
The Salar de Olaroz Basin is one of a number of land locked salt lakes located high up in the Argentinian Puna Region. This basin is bounded by a pair of north-south reverse faults that thrust Andes Paleozoic sediment west to east as a result of the Pacific Plate colliding with the South American Plate. This results in the west side of the basin being continually pushed higher which replenishes the sediment fill within the basin.
Argentina holds the world’s biggest lithium resources (as brine deposits) and is currently the world’s third largest producer of lithium, after Australia and Chile. One of the key attractions of lithium brine projects in Argentina is their low cost of production compared to hard rock lithium projects – Argentinian (and Chilean) lithium brine projects are well recognised as being the lowest on the lithium carbonate production cost curve. The principal reason for the low operating cost is that lithium rich brine, once pumped to the surface (typically from aquifers at up to several hundred metres depth) is then transferred to large evaporation ponds, which rely on free energy from the sun and local atmospheric conditions to concentrate the brine. There are generally no environmentally damaging tailings or toxic by-products.
Geology and Mineralisation
The Solaroz Tenements lie over the same Salar de Olaroz Basin from which Orocobre Limited is extracting and processing lithium rich brine for sale as lithium carbonate since 2015. The Solaroz Tenements follow and overlap into the visible white halite salt layer of the ‘Salar’ (salt lake) and extend as substantial flat areas with 1 - 2 metres of elevation to the visible halite area, providing a favourable location and topography for the construction of evaporation ponds.
Lithium Energy’s interpretation of the Salar de Olaroz Basin architecture is that the aquifer which supplies the lithium-rich brine being extracted by Orocobre is likely to extend under the Solaroz Tenements.
The Salar de Olaroz Basin originated as a structurally bounded, closed basin during the late Paleogene-Early Neogene. During much of the Miocene it appears to have slowly filled with medium to coarse grained alluvial fans and talus slopes eroded from the surrounding mountain ranges. As accommodation space was filled the sediments became progressively finer grained, braidplain, sandflat, playa and fluvial architectures are noted in the Upper Miocene and Pliocene. As the climate became more arid during the Pliocene, evaporitic deposits first appeared. Normal faulting created additional accommodation space is likely to have initiated at this time as well. The lowest drilled sediments indicate an arid climate with abundant halite.
These Units are likely probably Pleistocene in age and are likely contiguous with the lowest drilled and reported sediments in the Salar de Olaroz Basin originated as a structurally bounded, closed basin during the late Paleogene-Early Neogene. During much of the Miocene it appears to have slowly filled with medium to coarse grained alluvial fans and talus slopes eroded from the surrounding mountain ranges.
Influx of water and sediment is primarily from the Rosario catchment at the north of Salar de Olaroz Basin.
Geological modelling undertaken provides an interpretation that the alluvial deposits upon which the Solaroz Tenements are located (at the North-Western corner of the Salar de Olaroz and nominally bounded to the West by an interpreted bounding fault) have been deposited relatively recently and lie directly above the productive deep sand unit of the lithium rich aquifer from which Orocobre is currently extracting its brine (the Deep Sand Unit).
This indicates the potential for a Deep Sand Unit to occur beneath surficial material at depths from 200 - 400m over a large proportion of the Solaroz Tenements.
The exploration and development programme proposed for the Solaroz Lithium Project will be conducted to determine the extent and grade of any lithium rich brine present within the Olaroz Salar Basin. Dependent upon exploration success of that programme, Lithium Energy will undertake further work to delineate a JORC Code compliant Mineral Resource and undertake studies to determine the economic potential of such a resource.
The proposed exploration programme will be conducted in a number of phases based upon the results of the previous phase over a two year period.
The initial exploration works will seek to outline the architecture of the Salar de Olaroz basin within the bounds of the Solaroz Concession area with the aim of defining area’s where the target Deep Sand Unit is present and likely the to be thickest, as well as defining the location of any vertical faults which may have impacted the development of the Deep Sand Unit. These works will make use of geophysical survey methodologies such as Transient Electromagnetic, Gravity and Passive Seismic exploration works. Lithium Energy will then proceed to drill a series of exploration scout drill holes to test for the Deep Sand Unit. The drill holes will be sampled and analysed at a laboratory for the presence of lithium rich brine. Based upon positive exploration success, Lithium Energy will then proceed to drill a series of Tricone drillholes in order to obtain flowrates, and an initial bulk sample for metallurgical test work to support a resource estimate.
Prior to such works being able to commence there is a requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report for the proposed exploration work at the Solaroz Lithium Project to be approved by the Jujuy Mining Authority (the provincial authority responsible for approving exploration and mining activities at the Solaroz Lithium Project).
Strike has completed and lodged an EIA Report with the Jujuy Mining Authority with respect to the Solaroz Lithium Project.
The EIA Report includes results from collecting and monitoring baseline environmental data and a detailed proposed fieldwork programme covering 2 years of proposed exploration activity. The EIA Report is currently under review by the Jujay Mining Authority. Once the EIA Report is approved, the exploration and development works for the Solaroz Lithium Project will commence.
© 2021 by Lithium Energy Limited.