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Lithium Energy sinks first step-out hole at Solaroz play

Updated: Apr 30


Lithium Energy has kicked off drilling at hole seven of its Solaroz lithium brine project in Argentina. Credit: File

Lithium Energy is drilling a seventh hole at its Solaroz lithium brine project in Argentina in a step-out from its recently-released mineral resource of 3.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).


The latest hole is the first to test the conductive brines in the northern block of the company’s concessions on the Olaroz Solar basin – in a region that has gained a reputation for developing large-scale lithium-brine operations.


The company plans to drill hole seven to about 500m below surface to test the extent of lithium mineralisation. The target was based on the interpretation of previously-conducted geophysical surveys.


Meanwhile, drilling at the sixth hole continues, having reached a depth of about 440m to date. Initial assay results show a 164m intersection of lithium-rich brines at a concentration of up to 448 milligrams per litre. The company encountered a 131m intercept of conductive brines across the upper aquifer between 134m and 265m that returned concentrations of up to 354mg/l.


The lower aquifer starts at about 287m, where drilling encountered a 33m intersection of lithium brines to 320m at a concentration of up to 448mg/l. Drilling at holes four and five has been completed to 787.5m and 690m respectively. Assays from brine and core sample at both holes are at the laboratory with results pending.


The company’s recent resource estimate was tabled just last month and comes off the back of five holes plunged into its “Central Block”, covering about 4750 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. A high-grade core of 1.34 million tonnes LCE with an average concentration of 405m/l lithium is housed within the resource.


The company is in the final throes of a scoping study to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate in addition to investigating the merits of the direct lithium extraction (DLE) method.


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. That takes less than a day, which is in stark contrast to the year-long process of pond evaporation. The spent brine is then reinjected back into the basin below.


To assess both the capabilities and commercial benefits of the new technology, Lithium Energy recently announced it had entered a “try before you buy” agreement with leading DLE provider, China-based Xi’an Lanshen New Material Technology, to fully fund, construct and operate a trial plant at Solaraz.


If the company can continue to record significant results from its ongoing drill campaign at the Argentine operation outside its already established resource estimate, it has the potential to add some serious tonnes to Solaroz.


And if Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s latest lithium forecast is anything to go by, Lithium Energy’s timing will be perfect.


Benchmark says more than a million tonnes of LCE will be mined this year for the first time ever. By 2030, it has predicted that number will increase substantially to 2.8 million tonnes, with the feverish demand being driven by the growing need for lithium-ion batteries.




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