VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Lithium explorer Argentina Lithium & Energy has initiated its first drilling and subsurface brine sampling programme at the 20 500 ha Arizaro lithium project, located on the Arizaro Salar in Salta province.
The TSX-V-listed company initially plans to drill three to four holes, with depths up to 400 m, based on targets defined by the previously completed vertical electric sounding (VES) geophysical survey completed earlier this year.
"We are pleased to be back on the ground at Arizaro and drilling the first targets to test our model of a deep brine layer. In addition to planning this programme, our team has been actively pursuing other projects to add to our portfolio, and we look forward to completing a second project acquisition in the coming months,” president and CEO Nikolaos Cacos stated in a press release.
According to the company, the geological environment at Arizaro includes volcanic rock outcrops and structural conditions similar to other salars in the Puna region, where lithium and potash are found.
Further, the large size of the Arizaro basin improves the probability of finding geological and hydrogeological conditions for establishing sub-basins of independent evolution within the salar. These factors support exploration for deep layers of lithium-rich brine that are not directly linked to the surface fluids at the Arizaro salar.
This programme will test conductive and semi-conductive zones identified by the VES survey, which are interpreted as geologic units that are saturated with high-density, and potentially lithium-bearing, brines.
Argentina Lithium has the option to earn a 100% interest in the Arizaro lithium brine project, including 20 500 ha in the central core of the Arizaro Salar, the largest in Argentina. The salar covers an area of 1 600 km2 within a watershed of 6 000 km2, making it the third-largest salar in the lithium triangle, after Uyuni, in Bolivia, and Atacama, in Chile.
Under the terms of the option agreement, the company may acquire a 100% interest in the Arizaro project by making scheduled cash payments to the vendor totalling $6-million, incurring exploration expenditures totalling $4.2-million and issuing 2.5-million common shares.
Previous work undertaken by the US Geological Survey sampled brines from the subsurface (about 2 m depth) that returned lithium values up to 160 mg/ℓ, confirming the presence of lithium in the basin.
The Arizaro Salar is strategically located with, surprisingly, substantial infrastructure considering that it is located in the Andes, which includes a railway that connects to the deepwater port of Antofagasta, nearby advanced mining projects such as First Quantum Minerals' Taca Taca project, that are expected to bring significant development of access routes and power to the area, and the local availability of water to support development.