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Demand is soaring for lithium-ion batteries, driven by the energy storage and electric vehicle markets
VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Asset consolidation is continuing in the junior lithium space, with several companies announcing deals in the past week.
Wealth Minerals announced Monday that its Chilean subsidiary has entered a letter of intent dated December 12, with arm’s length vendors giving it the exclusive right and option to acquire a 100% royalty-free interest in the Laguna Verde project mining concessions, in Chile.
The project comprises 23 concessions for 2 438 ha and is in Region III, northern Chile, 193 km east of the regional capital city of Copiapo, next to Highway 60 and 15 km west of the border with Argentina.
Wealth noted that previous operators, such as Pan American Lithium, have conducted exploration and sampling programmes on the project, which resulted in a compliant inferred resource of 512 960 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent and 4.22-million tonnes of potassium chloride equivalent.
Wealth also announced that it has arranged a non-brokered private placement of up to 909 090 common shares at a price of $1.10 each, for gross proceeds of up to C$1-million.
Under the option agreement, Wealth paid $700 000 in cash and issued one-million shares on signing, and will make scheduled payments over 48 months totalling $5-million, and issue a total of seven-million shares over the same period.
FOURTH ONTARIO OPTION
Australia-based lithium and graphite explorer Ardiden said Monday it has further expanded its lithium portfolio in Ontario, after securing an option from Alset Energy to acquire a fourth advanced lithium project with extensive spodumene- (lithium ore-) bearing pegmatites, over 1 700 m of historical diamond drilling and a known lithium deposit, despite not being Joint Ore Reserves Committee- (Jorc-) compliant.
The ASX-listed company has entered into an option agreement with Alset Energy to acquire 100% of the advanced Wisa Lake lithium project, opening up a fourth front for lithium exploration alongside the majority owned Seymour Lake lithium project and 100%-owned Root Lake and Root Bay lithium projects, as well as the company’s Manitouwadge graphite project, where a maiden resource delineation diamond drilling programme is currently underway.
Ardiden believes that the option gives it an “outstanding opportunity” to acquire another high-quality lithium projectwith known spodumene mineralisation, historical drillingand the potential to establish additional resources in accordance with Jorc (2012) guidelines relatively quickly, being easily accessible and close to existing good infrastructure and the US border. The project also has easy strategic access to the growing energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) markets and EV manufacturers in Detroit (General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Fiat ChryslerAutomobiles US) and California (Tesla).
ALBERTA OIL BRINES
Meanwhile, Canada-focused project developer MGX Minerals last week announced that it has acquired 11 other metallic and industrial minerals permits covering a further 91.610.02 ha of prospective land, in Alberta.
The permits cover the Redwater and Swan Hills oilfields, which were acquired based on compilation of historic exploration for lithium, oil and gas well brine production data, and known geology. MGX said both areas contain significant daily volumes of oil field brine production from the primary lithium bearing brine formations in Alberta.
MGX now holds permits covering more than one-million barrels per day of brine output by various oil field operators throughout the province, including some of the highest levels of lithium bearing brine, up to 140 mg/ ℓ, as reported in the Provincial Industrial Minerals database.
MGX currently has exploration level agreements including well water testing, bulk water testing (centralised) and wateranalyses with major oil companies throughout Alberta. The company also recently signed an agreement with the operator of the Sturgeon Lake oilfield to conduct water sampling.
These oilfields produce excessive amounts of brine in comparison to petroleum due to their mature nature, which requires increased pumping to produce crude oil. The brine is considered a waste product as it is presently treated to separate and remove petroleum products and then reinjected back down into subsurface formations. MGX continues to work in cooperation with existing oilfield operators to leverage existing infrastructure.
As a result of the recent water testing and analyses agreement signed with the oil field operator, MGX has tested ten wells and two centralised water batteries at its Sturgeon Lake lithium brine project. The centralised water battery testing is intended to take a bulk sample 400 ℓ of brine.
This brine will be run through the bench scale pre-treatment and mineral extraction processes developed by MGX and water purification partner PurLucid Treatment Solutions. The Sturgeon Lake property is a prime candidate for pilot plant deployment.
Data from the bulk sampling will be used for final specifications of the mineral extraction components of the pilot plant. The pre-treatment and water purification portion of the pilot plant is complete, MGX reported. This pre-treatment section removes all oil and physical particulate, allowing steady flow of low impurity feedstock to the mineral extraction process.
The company recently announced that in partnership with PurLucid, the pilot plant is 50% complete.