Salar de Pocitos, Salta Province, Argentina – Lithium

C29 announced on 25 October 2022 the signing of an option agreement to acquire 80% of two Lithium Brine exploration licenses located within the world renowned Lithium Triangle of South American.  The two projects lie within the Salar de Pocitos, Salta Province, Argentina; an area only recently gaining exploration attention by Lithium explorers.

Due diligence period which allows the company to expand on the initial exploration undertaken and for C29 to complete an independent DD to assess the viability of the projects within the tenement package

Salar de Pocitos, Salta Province, Argentina

Highlights

  • C29 Metals Limited announced the signing of an option agreement to acquire 80% of two exploration licenses, Pocitos 7 and Pocitos 9, located within Argentina’s Salta Province, part of the world renowned South American lithium triangle.
  • The lithium triangle is estimated to contain 75% of the world’s lithium supply and is the world’s premier lithium exploration address.  Significant logistical infrastructure is already in place at the project locale allowing transport of refined Lithium Carbonate through a major port.

SALAR de pocitos, salta province

Highly prospective tenement area:

  • The Company is advanced in its due diligence processes including collating and reviewing historical exploration data.
  • Previous exploration has included the surveying of four TEM-VES (Transient Electromagnetic-Vertical Electrical Sounding) profiles across the two exploration licences.  These were successful in identifying a significant low-resistivity zone at depth which is interpreted as being a large aquifer hosting the target lithium-charged brines.
  • The Company is proposing to drill-test these geophysical targets in the short-term before commencing a program of lithium extraction process testing.

Project Location relative to known deposits, railway infrastructure and the major port of Antofagasta, Chile

Infrastructure

The Pocitos projects benefits greatly from the presence of existing infrastructure with road, rail, and power all passing through the area. The Salta-Antofagasta railway line runs within 20km of the project including a station at the nearby town of Pocitos. This provides a direct link for the project to the major Chilean port city of Antofagasta on the Pacific coast, allowing an easy route to market for the refined Lithium Carbonate which the project can produce (Figure 2). In addition, Provincial Road Route 17 and a natural gas pipeline both transit through Pocitos, whilst the InterAndes power corridor passes 35 kilometers to the north.

Project setting

Situated at over 3,600 metres elevation, the present surface expression of the Pocitos Salar is approximately 425 square kilometres, being 57 kilometres north to south, and between 6 and 9 kilometres east to west. The two concessions which comprise the Pocitos 7 and 9 projects are located in the southern central part of the Salar de Pocitos salt-lake complex. The concessions are surrounded by land held by other lithium brine explorers including major players such as the dual- listed Argentina Lithium & Energy (TSX-V:LIT), Power Minerals (ASX:PNN), Spey Resources (CSE:SPEY) and Recharge Resources (CSE:RR) who all hold an interest in land at the Salar de Pocitos. Compared to other Salars in the region, the Salar de Pocitos is considered relatively under- explored and presents an excellent opportunity.

 

PREVIOUS AND FUTURE EXPLORATION

TEM Survey

A transient electromagnetic survey (TEM) was undertaken at the Pocitos concessions by the previous operator, AIS Resources (TSX-V:AIS), during January 2018. The survey used a vertical electrical sounding (VES) configuration and was designed as a series of east-west and north-south transects through the centre of each concession (see Figure 4). The intention of the survey was to test for low resistivity zones which indicate the accumulation of conductive brines in aquifers below the surface of the salar. Conductive brines are a key pathfinder for the occurrence of lithium in the Salar de Pocitos and other neighbouring salars. The results were initially reported by AIS Resources on March 22nd 2018 to the TSX-V stock exchange. C29 Metals Ltd has now reviewed the survey results and interpretation and re-publishes them here in a format compliant with the JORC code.

The TEM survey profiles were collected using a moving-loop method with a loop size of 200m x 200m. Readings were taken at approximately 1km intervals for each concession, with five sample points per concession located in a cross pattern. The data was processed using Interpex IX1D software to produce four profiles of stitched 1D layered inversion models. Interpretation of these profiles suggests the existence of a constrained saline aquifer at depth (>150m) under both concessions, particularly in the central to easternmost third of each. This can be seen clearly in Figure 5 where TEM Profile 4 has a notable low-resistivity zone at depth towards the eastern boundary of the concession.

Test Pit Sampling

Previous operators have attempted to characterise the nature of the underlying brine aquifers at Salar de Pocitos through the digging of shallow (<5m) test pits, however we do not believe these to be representative and the results have been discounted.

 

Hydrogeological Survey

The company has not carried out and is not aware of any previous operator having carried out, a hydrogeological survey at the Pocitos project. Given the nature of brine-hosted deposits it is considered essential to have a robust hydrogeological model and this will be a key consideration for the company moving forward and future exploration activities.

 

Drilling Design

Planned drillholes have been designed by the previous operator in accordance with their interpretation of the Pocitos project. This interpretation is likely to change as the due diligence process advances, as such the final drillhole design including collar locations may also be subject to change. Regardless of this caveat, the company fully intends to drill-test both concessions in a timely manner once the project acquisition is completed.

PROCESSING

The Company has signed a non-exclusive intellectual property license agreement with Ekosolve™ Limited (link:  http://ekosolve.com.au/technology.html ). The Company will pay Ekosolve™ a license fee upon product production and sale. The details of this license agreement are as follow.

  • The Licence is subject to C29 being able to validate a lithium brine resource with a lithium concentrate suitable to the process limits and obtaining all environmental approvals and permits to become operational.
  • The licence is non-exclusively granted solely in respect of the Argentina and Australia
  • C29 will pay Ekosolve™ Limited a standard consultant fee for the provision of analysis and treatment services, Feasibility services, plant engineering or other related services utilising the Intellectual Property, undertaken on lithium brine provided by or on behalf of the C29 or proposed lithium plant location during the Term of this Agreement on an as need basis. Quotations for each consulting project will be provided prior to undertaking.
  • On successful development C29 will pay Ekosolve™ a license fee based on a variable percent ranging from a minimum of 5% up to a maximum of 15%; of the free on board (FOB) net sales from the Lithium product sold by C29 to third parties. The variable range is dependent on plant economical efficiencies, market conditions, port of embarkment and type of lithium product sold.
  • The term of the license agreement is until termination by either party or breach of confidential information or infringement of intellectual property rights.

This agreement enables C29 to benefit from Ekosolve’s™ advanced technology and industry leading experts who have been developing this process specifically for brines like that encountered in the Salar de Pocitos for over 6 years. The company will utilise Ekosolve™ (refer to http://ekosolve.com.au for all technical details and information) and their facilities at Melbourne University to undertake the analysis and test work required to determine the plant feasibility to the project’s brines with the aim to move to pilot testing in late 2023. General technical consulting fees will be charged for any test work undertaken during this process.

The Pocitos projects have the potential to become a long life, low cost producer of battery grade lithium carbonate using an emerging direct extraction technology such as Ekosolve™. These direct extraction methods are considered superior to older solar evaporation methods as it eliminates the need for solar evaporation ponds, potentially reducing the Capital requirements; the brines are treated in a closed system, the lithium is removed from the brine with the resulting brine waters reinjected into back into the salar which has is a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly process; and the systems are designed to produce a higher grade lithium product.