Argentina Lithium: Local Knowledge Counts

V.LIT, Argentina Lithium, lithium, Argentina, Nikolaos Cacos

Twenty five years ago Argentina liberalized its business and mining rules. At the time the mineral rich nation had barely been explored using modern techniques. A fact which Joe Grosso was very much aware of. He set out to explore in Argentina and, over the years, made three major discoveries and was named Argentina’s ‘Mining Man of The Year’ in 2005. Joe Grosso is the founding force behind Argentina Lithium (V.LIT).

“Grosso stayed the course,” said Nikolaos Cacos, President and CEO of Argentina Lithium . “We understand the people and the politics of Argentina. When we show up in an area Grosso is recognized. The local authorities recognize the brand.”

“The key is local expertise,” said Cacos. “You need to partner up with local people. We have been fortunate enough to have Dr. Daniel Galli as out Technical Director. We follow his advice on which projects to pursue.”

In the December 15, 2016 press release announcing Dr. Galli’s appointment, Cacos stated, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Galli to Argentina Lithium. His stature and proven track record in building and successfully operating large-scale lithium brine operations is a tremendous asset to our company.”

The focus of the company is on the salar brines of the lithium triangle area where Argentina, Chile and Bolivia meet. Salar is Spanish for “salt flat” and in the lithium triangle there are huge salars. Beneath the surface salt are the brines which contain the lithium.

Extracting the lithium involves pumping the brines to surface and then allowing the brine to evaporate away leaving the lithium behind. That residue, lithium chloride, is then processed to remove impurities and turned into lithium carbonate which is the base material from which the lithium required for batteries is extracted. For this process to work a salar needs to be in a very low moisture environment and a company will want to see high concentrations of lithium and low levels of impurities in the brine it is pumping.

Argentina Lithium has two active projects. The first is 20,500 hectares in the central area of the Arizaro salar is located in the mining-friendly province of Salta in the high plateau (Puna) region of northwestern Argentina. This is the largest salar in Argentina and the third largest in the lithium triangle.

“The Arizaro salar has never been drilled,” said Cacos. “We have the largest land position.”

That land position is in the form of an option with the company required to make $6M in staged payments and $4.2M in expenditures on the property over a four year period. Additionally, the Company must issue 2.5M common shares with certain resale restrictions.

On November 14, Argentina Lithium released the results of its first two drill holes at the Arizaro project. In that release Cacos states, “Our model for this property was for a brine aquifer at depth, so we were pleased to have anomalous results in our first two holes. These results support the theory of a source aquifer below where we were able to reach, therefore we are continuing our exploration to pinpoint the best location and depth to continue testing.”

Argentina Lithium’s second project is the acquisition and exploration of an entire salar. As the Argentina website puts it, “The Incahuasi salar is located in the province of Catamarca in the high plateau (Puna) region of northwestern Argentina, at an altitude of approximately 3300 metres above sea level. The salar is located in a hyper-arid region, receiving on average less than 30 millimetres of rain per year, a necessary condition for the creation of evaporative brines. There is adequate surface area within the project limits for future processing facilities, including the construction of evaporation ponds on the salar.”

“We started acquiring the land, in a very low profile way, about a year ago,” said Cacos. “We acquired it slowly, staked some of it, and bought in stages.”

The acquisition was announced in a November 6 press release in which Cacos states, “This acquisition provides the Company and our shareholders full control of an exciting new project that covers the entire salar basin. Our technical advisors are very optimistic about the potential and we are moving forward with a detailed program to identify and quantify subsurface brines.”

“This is a bit of a chemistry problem,” said Cacos. “Dr. Galli has a lot of production experience. We’ve done the preliminary surface work. Now it is time to commence drilling and identifying the underground aquafers with significant lithium.”

“The surface work looks good,” said Cacos. “We want to find the lithium and test it. We give the material to our technical team and they figure out the impurities and what to do about them.

“We’re still looking for good land,” said Cacos more generally. “We have a contact base we’ve developed over twenty five years. So we have constant offers of projects. Argentina is still vastly underexplored. Lithium is here to stay and Argentina is a huge part of the lithium triangle.

“Our company has the capacity to take a project forward but we might sell a project on or joint venture it,” said Cacos. “Argentina is a great place to do business. There is lots of mining, the roads are there, there is access to power and to labour. The permitting process is straightforward and timely.”

With the Grosso brand and twenty five years of mining in Argentina behind it, Argentina Lithium is ready to pump, purify and deliver the promise of Argentina’s lithium rich salars.

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