June 26, 2018 - 10:05 AM EDT
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Flurry of Foreign Investment and Exploration Activities Driving Argentina’s Bright Lithium Future

A recent massive sale of a package of lithium mining tenements in Argentina to a South Korean steelmaker may be setting the stage for a wave of more activity from lithium buyers wanting a bigger piece of the action. Now the buyer has signalled that it plans to invest nearly half a billion dollars in the Latin American country’s lithium sector.

When POSCO agreed to purchase the northern tenements of the Sal de Vida lithium brine project for $280 million from Galaxy Resources Limited (OTX: GALXF), it apparently was just the beginning. A recent report from América Economía suggests that POSCO will invest $450 million for the production of lithium on the property which is located in the Salar del Hombre Muerto.

With the major Galaxy transaction now out of the way, eyes are on other prominent lithium players operating in Argentina, including Orocobre Limited (TSE: ORL) (OTC: OROCF), Millennial Lithium Corp (OTC: MLNLF) (TSX.V: ML), Neo Lithium Corp. (OTC: NTTHF) (TSX.V: NLC), and NRG Metals Inc. (OTC: NRGMF) (TSX.V: NGZ).

POSCO’s Sal de Vida project has the potential to generate total annual revenues approximately $360 million, scaling up to 25,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate and 95,000 tonnes of potassium chloride. The news couldn’t be better for the country of Argentina, as the injection should create 200 new direct jobs in the production stage. Construction of the plants is projected in 2019, with production to commence in 2021.

But POSCO isn’t the only foreign buyer seeking courtship and a presence at the production table. There are several other significant options becoming available, as projects at multiple stages are progressing through development, such as Orocobre’s producing Olaroz facility and upcoming JV Cauchari project, or NRG Metals’ rapidly developing Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project which just released extremely positive drilling results.

Foreign lithium buyers are getting more ambitious when it comes to securing supplies for their end users. With neighbouring Chile decreasing outside confidence with its recent stalling and blocking of potential sales on its major lithium resources, Argentina’s Lithium Triangle properties are becoming more appealing to the outside world.


Galaxy Resources Limited (OTX: GALXF)

With a whopping $280 million sale of the northern tenement package at its Sal de Vida project to POSCO, Galaxy set a new standard of expectations in the Argentine lithium market. POSCO is set to take ownership of the package that hosts a known resource of 1.58 Mt of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE), and total resources of 2.54 million tonnes. Galaxy has expressed that the funds raised from the sale will help fund the development of the remaining tenements of Sal de Vida in the Southern Basin. The southern tenements contain an estimated 4.09 Mt in the measured and indicated category, and 1.14 Mt of reserves. Galaxy had earlier appointed JP Morgan Australia to evaluate “strategic options” for Sal de Vida ahead of the sale.

Orocobre Limited (TSE: ORL) (OTC: OROCF)

Backed by Phase II drilling results, Orocobre recently released an updated resource estimate on the company’s Cauchari Joint Venture Project, in Jujuy, Argentina. The new numbers were increased to a volume of approximately 1,200 million cubic metres of brine, at average grades of 450 mg/l lithium and 4,028 mg/l potassium for 3.0 Mt of LCE. The updated resource will be used as the basis for a Scoping Study/Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) scheduled for completion during this quarter. The Cauchari could eventually add production to Orocobre’s Argentine lithium operations, which currently are dominated by the company’s Salar de Olaroz lithium facility which recently set a quarterly sales record with revenue of $41.3 million on total sales of 3,052 tonnes of lithium carbonate.

Millennial Lithium Corp (OTC: MLNLF) (TSX.V: ML)

On its own Cauchari-area project, Millennial Lithium recently received environmental approval to conduct geophysics and a drilling program of up to 6 wells on its Cauchari East lithium brine target in Jujuy Province. The target adjoins known mineralization, as defined by the other explorers and developers in the Cauchari-Olaroz basin, which hosts Orocobre’s producing lithium facility. The application to drill on the 3000-hectare mining claim, dubbed the Cauchari East project, was first submitted in early 2017. In the ramp up on the project, Millennial recently added an expert in the field of lithium ponds processing to their team.

Neo Lithium Corp. (OTC: NTTHF) (TSX.V: NLC)

Over in the Catamarca province, Neo Lithium is currently working on developing its wholly-owned 3Q Project. Recent results from its second drilling season on the project delivered significant new findings, including a high-grade intercept over 99.5 metres with an average of 1,407 mg/l lithium, and 10,562 mg/l potassium. The hole was the highest-grade in the project’s history, while also doubling the depth of known mineralization. Neo Lithium recently completed a preliminary economic assessment of the 3Q Project that provides preliminary economics for a 35,000 tonne per year lithium carbonate mine.

NRG Metals Inc. (OTC: NRGMF) (TSX.V: NGZ)

Continued drilling on NRG’s Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project recently delivered very positive results for the junior lithium developer. Brine samples collected from 100 meters to 300 meters showed high-grade values very similar to the previous assays for the samples from surface to a depth of 100 meters. Over the results, NRG’s latest drilling returned an arithmetic average of 888 mg/l lithium, with the added bonus of a low magnesium to lithium ratio. Given the proximity of the project to POSCO’s recent $280 million acquisition from Galaxy Resources, NRG Metals has had a lot to be happy over the last couple months.


Long before Galaxy Resources made its massive deal with POSCO, NRG Metals Inc. (OTC: NRGMF) (TSX.V: NGZ) finalized its own major deal in the form of a strategic alliance with Chinese high-purity lithium manufacturers Chengdu Chemphys Chemical Industry Co., Ltd (“Chemphys”). Unlike the POSCO acquisition, NRG and Chemphys have formed an alliance, that gave Chemphys representation on the NRG Board of Directors.

Since the deal was announced, NRG has been aggressive with its development on the property— Sampling on the project at the beginning of the year yielded very high lithium values, with several sites returning values over 1000 mg/l Li. On the company’s other Argentinean asset the Salar Escondido Lithium Project, NRG reported similarly high values.

The Chemphys deal showed that companies in NRG’s development stage were also fair game for partnerships. Much like what POSCO has planned on the Sal de Vida northern tenements, Chemphys entered the partnership with NRG specifically to advance the exploration and development of the Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project (“HMN Project”) all the way to its rightful conclusion.

So far the relationship has been quite positive. Now that Phase II drilling delivered similarly high-grade positive results, with the average of 888 mg/l lithium across 100 metres. Perhaps more importantly were the indications of high grades with favorable magnesium to lithium ratios. These types of results have the potential to have a very positive impact on any future capital and operating costs, should the economic viability and technical feasibility of the project be established.

For a more in-depth look into NRG Metals Inc., visit the following report from USA News Group on the company - http://usanewsgroup.com/2018/06/21/where-is-the-highest-grade-lithium-within-the-famed-lithium-triangle/

USA News Group
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Source: Livemoney (June 26, 2018 - 10:05 AM EDT)

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