The company, a member of the respected Grosso Group, acquired a 100%-interest in 460.5 hectares of the Rincon West lithium project at the Rincon Salar in Salta Province in 2021, with a further 3,282 hectares of claims on option. Drilling began last year, with an initial programme of nine diamond drills, which have returned ever more positive lithium results in brines, including a 153m interval ranging from 329 to 393 mg/l lithium.
Argentina is at the forefront of what could be a decade-long scramble for lithium as the electrification of the world's industries continues. The South American country accounts for more than 20% of the world's reserves and has the largest lithium project pipeline according to Mining Journal analysis. And Argentina Lithium is well placed to take advantage of this new ‘green rush,' with mid-grade discoveries likely to attract growing levels of interest.
"Our idea is that the lithium market is developing," says Miles Rideout, vice president of exploration at Argentina Lithium. "So initially, only the highest-grade projects were getting any traction, but now your mid-grade projects are getting traction from major producers. And what's likely to happen as direct lithium extraction technologies are improved, they will be optimized for these lower-grade brines you have in some of these very large lithium basins."
Progress at Rincon West
The company is permitted to drill nine holes at Rincon West, and has reported results from the first six. Results from holes 7 - 9 are pending.
Talking about results so far, Mr. Rideout is bullish, "The drilling is going very well. We're getting roughly one drill hole completed per month and every time we've drilled, we've been getting into concentrated lithium brines. Drill hole 5 backs that up, and drill hole 6 is the best hole we've drilled and it's located centrally in our aquifer."
Argentina Lithium's properties at Rincon West are adjacent to concessions operated by Rio Tinto and lie across the salar from Argosy Minerals. It should be noted that proximity to other mining projects does not provide any assurance with respect to making similar discoveries. However, Mr. Rideout believes the exploration results will match those of their neighbours.
"What the results indicate is that the brines that we are recovering from our property are similar to what was announced by Rio Tinto, earlier Rincon Mining, for their resource and what was announced by Argosy Minerals for their resource," he says. "Going in, our property was undrilled but we thought we were going to pull out these types of brine values and that's what we're doing."
With results from the first nine holes in hand, LIT will initiate resource modelling.
Concurrently, the company controls another two concessions at Rincon - Rinconcitas II, lying between Rincon West and Rio Tinto, adjoining Rincon West on the east side, and Paso de Sico, adjoining Rio Tinto to the north.
Team geos will shortly initiate geophysics in preparation for drilling these two additional zones. If merited, LIT is targeting an initial resource estimate this year.
Antofalla North, good potential, good neighbours
Argentina Lithium controls 10,050 hectares at the Antofalla Salar in Catamarca Province. The Antofalla Salar lies approx. 25km to the west of Argentina's largest lithium producing operation at Salar de Hombre Muerto.
The company's properties at Antofalla extend to within half-kilometre of a neighbouring concession controlled by Albemarle, which has stated that the resource on its concession could be among the largest in Argentina (see Albemarle news release dated September 12, 2016).
"We've taken the northern 27 kilometres and will start geophysics and drilling in mid-2023," says Mr. Rideout. "A large resource has been identified to the south, and our objective is to show the same brine and aquifer exists under our concession [as at Albemarle's]."
Mr. Rideout says that the location adjacent to a major producer might mean the project represents "a lower risk for investors". Speaking more broadly about this strategy, he says: "We consciously said that we're going to be looking at larger properties on mid-grade basins as opposed to small properties on high-grade basins because the cost to get into those is very high and you end up with a sliver of the ground.
"By going with a mid-grade basin, we can get large packages of ground. And so the entire project that we have beside Albemarle is far larger than our Rincon package.
"And to give the assurance and the profile for our projects, we said we can't do better than locate our properties on these basins with a major producer adjacent to us. And so that's what we've done in our two main projects: in the one case [Rincon West] we have Rio Tinto immediately adjacent to us; and in another case [Antofalla North] we have Albemarle Corporation, the world's second-largest lithium producer."
Taken together, this year could be the continuation of very big things for lithium, and Argentina Lithium seems well placed to take advantage of a hot market.