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Lithium Energy pumps up Solaroz brine resource

Updated: Apr 30


Lithium Energy has upgraded its Solaroz lithium mineral resource estimate in Argentina. Credit: File

Further drilling at Lithium Energy’s Solaroz brine project in Argentina has converted more than 70 per cent of its 3.3 million tonne lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) maiden mineral resource estimate into the higher “Indicated” category.


Housed within the resource is a higher-grade core of 1.2 million tonnes LCE with an average concentration of 400 milligrams per litre lithium.


The upgraded estimate comes off the back of additional drilling into the company’s “Central Block”, covering about 4620 hectares of the 12,000ha area of its Solaroz concessions. Lithium Energy says extensive geophysics were also used to interpolate the extent of the brines contained in the underlying sedimentary basin.


The company has completed a total of eight diamond holes into its concessions and one rotary hole for a total of 5087 metres. Of these, six diamond holes perforated the Central Block, feeding into the resource estimate, with one hole each in the southern Mario Angel concession and the Payo 1 concession of the Northern Block.


Lithium Energy believes there is more to be found too with recent step-out drilling coming up trumps with a 24m hit going 483mg/l from a depth of 233m at the Payo 1 concession. The company says the same hole encountered 110m of continuous lithium brines from 185m to 295m.


Further infill drilling is planned to improve confidence in the correlation of lithology, porosity and brine concentration between holes and continue upgrading the resource, in addition to installing test production wells to support ongoing engineering and feasibility studies to fast-track the commercialisation of Solaroz.


Having the majority of the Inferred Resource converted to the higher confidence Indicated category is a very significant milestone for the Company, as these Indicated Resources will now underpin the Hatch Scoping Study for Solaroz, the results of which will be released shortly. Lithium Energy executive chairman Will Johnson

The company has high hopes for the lithium-rich brines at Solaroz, and for good reason. Solaroz is in the Salar de Olaroz basin in the heart of South America’s so-called “lithium triangle” which stretches across north-west Argentina and parts of Bolivia and Chile.


Significantly, its neighbours include lithium majors Allkem and Lithium Argentina Corporation.


As one of only three groups that control the lithium concession rights on, and adjacent to the Olaroz Salar, ASX-listed Allkem was an early mover in the region and has been producing lithium-carbonate since 2015, using traditional brine-evaporation pond methods.


Lithium Argentina’s Cauchari-Olaroz project, which it holds in joint venture with Ganfeng Lithium, has only recently commenced production of lithium carbonate on the neighbouring Salar de Cauchari.


Lithium Energy is in the final throes of a scoping study to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate via the same traditional pond evaporation technique, in addition to investigating the merits of the direct lithium extraction (DLE) method that does away with evaporation ponds.


The DLE process involves pumping lithium brine to the surface directly into a processing plant, where one of several absorption methods is applied to extract the lithium from the brine – taking less than a day. This is in stark contrast to the year-long process of pond evaporation. The spent brine is then reinjected back into the basin below.


The potential of the company’s project has clearly caught the attention of several sizeable parties active in the electric vehicle battery sector, with management revealing it has received multiple approaches seeking strategic partnership or investment opportunities at Solaroz. Negotiations for any such partnerships are ongoing.


Lithium Energy and scoping study partner Hatch are set to deliver the full results of its anticipated scoping study any day, including production targets and project economics. Depending on the outcomes, Lithium Energy could join the ranks of Allkem as the next ASX-listed company to be producing lithium on the South American continent.


Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: office@bullsnbears.com.au

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