Mariana Lithium-Potash Project
The Mariana project, a lithium-potash salar, consisting of several contiguous mining claims covering an expansive 160 km2 project area, strategically encompasses the entire salar and a significant portion of the surrounding area to provide prospective land for a potential future processing plant facility. Salars, or salt lakes, host some of the largest known lithium resources in the world and the Mariana basin is one of the more prominent salars in the renowned lithium belt of South America that produces more than 70% of global production.
The Company completed a reverse-circulation Phase 1 resource delineation drill program on the Project in 2012. Four (4) widely spaced drill holes (totaling 444 metres), were positioned approximately 5 km apart to characterize the subsurface strata and brine across several previously identified geological and geochemical domains within the 10 x 15 km salar (salt lake) basin. In addition, the objective was to add to the geological model of the salar and determine the aquifer potential of the stratigraphy encountered. For further details please see news release dated April 24, 2012.
As expected, the upper stratigraphic interval was primarily halite varying in depth from 18 to 32 metres in the peripheral areas (hole MA12-04 in the south, MA12-05 in the north and MA12-06 in the western region of the salar) and 66 metres depth in hole MA12-07 proximal to the center of the salar. Below this predominantly halite layer an extensive mixed evaporite layer approximately 32-52 meters thick, consisting of greater than 60% fine to coarse sand, was encountered in the three peripheral holes. Below the evaporite sequences in all holes an extensive medium to coarse grained, dark coloured, basaltic sand interval was encountered. Brine flow measurements recorded during drilling increased markedly below the halite sequence throughout the sand rich layers.
Unconsolidated stratigraphic units with a significant granular or sand component possess physical characteristics that allow them to maintain a higher degree of permeability and porosity at greater depths than halite (salt) units. Consequently, they represent a potential aquifer for hosting brine at depth and are an important target in the lithium-potash brine exploration model. The measured brine densities, ranging from 1,190 to 1,298 g/L, reflect a considerable quantity of dissolved salts, approximately 10 times the salinity of seawater.
Most recently the company installed data collection equipment necessary for permitting and design of the upcoming drill and pump test program being planned for Mariana in early 2015.