CLAYTON VALLEY LITHIUM PROJECT
Recently completed maiden inferred resource estimate of ~17,000,000 tonnes
grading ~1,060 ppm Li, which equates to 96,476 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent
Noram's land package is located in the heart of the Clayton Valley and includes a total of 646 claims covering 12,920 acres (5,228.5 hectares) in three contiguous claim blocks (see map below or click here) where the the lithium potential is contained within claystones (sediments), beds and brines. The perimeter of Noram's claims are located within 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of Albemarle’s lithium brine operation that has been in continuous production since the mid-1960s and produces lithium from brines that are pumped to surface from beneath the Clayton Valley playa, concentrated through evaporation and the resulting salts are then processed to extract the lithium.
- The maiden inferred Li resource was based on drill core sample results from a 46-hole Phase 1 drilling program (see map).
- Bench testing of Membrane Development Specialists nanofiltration system concluded that lithium recoveries up to 96.25% are achievable from the claystones after first and second leach steps.
- Analytical results from Phase 1 drilling were amazingly consistent, both vertically and horizontally, with the median Li value in drill core samples exceeding the average lithium value of surface samples by 46%.
- Phase 1 drilling tested less than 1% of the area covered by Noram's extensive claim holdings and the deposit remains open in all directions and at depth.
- The resource block model generated for the inferred resource indicated a zone of higher lithium grades trending northwest-southeast through the area of the resource that perhaps reflects an ancient shoreline of the playa lake bed.
- An independent Qualified Person has completed a National Instrument (NI) 43-101 Technical Report (see link above).
- Located in a mining-friendly jurisdiction and close to infrastructure (power, transport, labor, etc.)
The resource model delineated the NI 43-101 Inferred Mineral Resource of ~17 million metric tonnes at a grade of ~1,060 ppm Li, which equates to 96,476 metric tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). The level of confidence, i.e., the category, of a resource estimate may change with additional exploratory work, such as sampling, drilling, etc. The tonnes of LCE is calculated by multiplying the tonnage of the deposit (17,098,480) times the grade (1060 ppm or 0.106% or 0.00106) to get the total amount of lithium metal in the deposit (18,124 tonnes). The amount of lithium metal is then multiplied by the lithium to lithium carbonate conversion factor (5.323) to get the total LCE of the deposit (96,476 tonnes). The conversion factor is based on the relative atomic weights of lithium and lithium carbonate.
Why is Clayton Valley important to lithium production?
The Clayton Valley is a region well documented for lithium bearing brines and significantly rich beds. Clayton Valley is home to the only producer of lithium from brines in North America; Albemarle’s Silver Peak lithium brine operation which pioneered the production of Lithium Carbonate from brines in the 1960s, and also produces Lithium Hydroxide today.
Noram's Clayton Valley Project is located ~220 miles (360 km) southeast of the Tesla Gigafactory, a lithium-ion battery factory located outside Sparks, Nevada.
The geology in the Project is considered to comprise a sequence of sediments with strata composing aquifer systems which hosts and produces lithium rich brine. Multiple wetting and drying periods during the Pleistocene resulted in the formation of lacustrine sediments with salt beds and lithium rich brines forming in the sediments within the Clayton Valley basin. These deposits form the Esmeralda Formation which has clay bearing siltstones near the base to fine grained lacustrine sediments near the top. Up to six aquifers have been identified within the basin. It appears that lithium is ubiquitous throughout the area with hot springs and aquifers to the north of the town of Silver Peak containing lithium of approximately 40ppm. The Esmeralda Formation has been reported to contain from 350 to 1,171 ppm lithium (USGS open file report 82-415).
During the mid-to late 1970’s the U.S. Geological Survey (“USGS”) evaluated lithium deposits and resources around the world. During the course of the program they drilled 22 holes in Nevada and Arizona including seven drill holes in the Clayton Valley Basin. The USGS holes drilled closest to Noram's property reported 1.3 and 1.7 parts per million (“ppm”) lithium in the brines and 287 and 364 ppm lithium in the sediments.
Environmentally-Friendly Extraction Methods
One of the keys to Noram’s Clayton Valley Project is to determine if lithium can be economically extracted directly from the sediments. To that end, Noram commissioned Membrane Development Specialists LLC to investigate the amenability of the sediments to lithium extraction using new, environmentally-friendly membrane processes. The findings, although preliminary in nature, have shown that the sample sediments tested were amenable to an acid leach, ultrafiltration and nanofiltration process to separate the lithium from the sediments and remove a large portion of the magnesium and calcium with no rejection of lithium.
Jurisdiction, Access & Infrastructure
Noram's Project is located in Esmeralda County, Nevada, near the historic mining towns of Silver Peak, Tonopah and Goldfield. Nevada is a mining-friendly jurisdiction with a long history as a leading mineral producing state, and the gold and silver rush in the 1850s inspired it's statehood in 1864. According to the Nevada Mining Association, there are currently 24 metals mines and 24 industrial mineral mines operating in the State.
The Project can be accessed from Tonopah by driving south on US HWY 95 for a distance of 7 miles (11 kilometers) and then southwest on the Silver Peak gravel road for a distance of 20 miles (32 km). Both of these roads underwent upgrades during the summer of 2016.
Sources of power and water are less than 6 miles (10 km) from Noram's property; and a skilled labor force and supplies are available in Tonopah, Las Vegas (~215 miles/~345 km) or Reno (~225 miles/~360 km), which are the local and regional mining and supply centers.
Lithium prices have risen significantly since 2015 and demand is forecast to continue to expand with the global adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and energy storage systems (ESS) that use lithium-ion batteries. The EV market is expected to be a key demand driver through 2020 with the ESS market adding significantly to demand by 2025.
According to a recent interview with "Mr. Lithium", Joe Lowry: I was asked by a large consulting firm to do a projection to 2025. I don’t like to go that far out, but I did, and my number is, I would say, tepid compared to some others in the projection for lithium demand. But I have, even with a less than 5 percent EV penetration in 2025, the lithium market triples. Not just on the back of the EVs, but that component leads to a 3 X growth ... the price of lithium in China is back up over $20,000 for both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, which three years ago, was selling for $5,000 or $6,000 a tonne.
Note: Joe Lowry, CEO of Global Lithium LLC, who is probably the world’s foremost independent authority on the lithium industry, provides advisory services to end users, suppliers and investors; and travels continuously to meet with lithium producers and stay abreast of industry developments. Click the link above to see/read his recent interview with the MidasLetter.