Mineral exploration company Galan Lithium (ASX: GLN), based in West Perth, Australia, is currently concentrated on advancing drilling activities and evaluation of lithium brines at the Candelas Lithium Brine project located in Salar De Hombre Muerto in the Catamarca Province, Northern Argentina within South America’s highly proliferous Lithium Triangle.
Source: Investor presentation
The brines within Hombre Muerto are abundant with highest-quality minimally contaminated lithium, which makes it a Tier 1 location for lithium exploration companies to operate. According to Galan, Salar de Atacama (Chile) and Salar de Hombre Muerto account for around 60% of the world’s annual production of lithium. Besides, the Hombre Muerto basin has a favourable topography and a good neighbourhood with Livent Corporation’s El Fenix operation (since 1992) and Galaxy Resources’ (ASX: GXY) Sal de Vida project, where South Korean steel-making company, POSCO recently purchased a portion for USD 280 million.
The Salar De Hombre Muerto Project encompasses around 13 granted exploration tenements, where Galan holds the rights to earn 100% interest, and all of these broadly represent six project areas spanning approximately 25,000 ha. Of the total project area, a minimum of 7,800 ha is considered prospective for brines, including a major 6,000 ha under the Candelas Lithium Brine project, which has a ~15 km long by 3-5 km structurally controlled Los Patos channel.
Delivering on its plans to unlock the potential at the new target Candelas, Galan Lithium has achieved consistent headways in this regard.
Preliminary examination of Candelas processing technologies
Immediately following the completion of the six-month long drilling campaign, Galan Lithium has announced today, 3 July 2019, that the company has commenced a preliminary investigation into ion exchange technologies for processing lithium brines from the Candelas Project.
The investigation comes on the back of a six-month technical review into alternative processing technologies, with the results of both to be fed into the planned Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) for the project’s potential development.
According to Galan Lithium Managing Director JP Vargas de la Vega, a preliminary examination into processing technologies is a crucial step prior to the initiation of a PFS. He also added that the heavy brines extracted from Candelas are exceptionally high purity and the company believes that investigating lower-cost processing technologies could further leverage the unique nature of the deposit.
Each of the technologies considered by Galan have the potential to meaningfully reduce the costs of extracting lithium from brines. However, conducting due diligence into the suitability of ion exchange technologies is a long process. As a result, the company would be undertaking this work parallelly to other exploration and operational activities currently underway and adding value to the Candelas Project.
In addition to the above activities, Galan Lithium has also announced plans to investigate a more conventional processing route using evaporation, selective precipitation, purification and precipitation as Lithium Carbonate.
All these tests would be conducted over the next few months and all the inputs will be utilised for the PFS. Galan Lithium aims to define a maiden JORC compliant resource estimate for the northern portion of the Candelas project by Q3 CY2019 and the preparation for PFS will begin thereafter.
Currently, Galan is carrying-out discussions with technology companies that offer ion exchange recovery from lithium brines. Two providers have already been short-listed to conduct bench top test work. Meanwhile, the company is also assessing precipitation technologies for the extraction of lithium salts for further processing which is to be tested by an Australian technology provider.
Drilling Highlights at Candelas
Galan Lithium received the permits from the Secretaria de Estado de Mineria – Gobierno de Catamarca, Argentina in December 2018 to commence Stage 1 of the maiden diamond drilling campaign at Candelas in January 2019. The assays from the first four drill holes, received and analysed over the last few months, far exceeded Galan’s expectations. The results are briefed below.
- Maiden drillhole (C-01-19) - Returned an exceptional intercept of 192 m @ 802 mg/l Li. Check analysis of samples revealed high grades with very low impurities (Mg, SO4).
- Second drillhole (C-02-19) - Located ~ 9.5 km south of C-01-19. Preliminary field data from a 202 m section returned conductivity levels of ~90,000 mS/cm and specific gravity (SG) of ~1.045.
- Third drillhole (C-03-19) – Located ~ 2.5 km south of C-01-19. Packer tests of several brine samples returned very high conductivity levels above 200mS/cm and SG readings ~1.19 g/cm3.
- Forth drillhole (C-04-19) – Located ~2.4 km southwest of C-01-19. Returned outstanding conductivity levels of over 200 millisiemens/cm.
The Stage 2 of the drilling campaign has recently been completed with laboratory results disclosed on 2 July 2019 (drill permits received in May 2019).
The sample analyses for drillhole C-05-19, C-06-19 and C-07-19 is tabulated as below.
Source: Company’s announcement dated 2 July 2019
This new data confirms a minimum 3.5-km strike extent of heavy brines at the northern portion of Candelas, with holes one, three, five and six all with potential lithium grades >500mg/l Li ranging from 510-802mg/l Li and hole eight giving similar indications from field test work.
Drilling activities have currently been stopped for about two to three weeks as the company awaits the issuance of drilling permits to commence maiden drilling over the Western tenements at Hombre Muerto and further explore this exciting opportunity.
Western Basin concessions
Galan Lithium also holds five tenements on the edges of the Western Basin of Salar de Hombre Muerto, straddling the border between Catamarca and Salta provinces, where CSAMT surveying had revealed significant brine coverage, supported by the results of surface brine sampling. These projects include Pata Pila, El Deceo, Santa Barbara, Catalina and Rana de Sa.
Galan Lithium’s market capitalisation stands at around AUD 23.93 million with approximately 129.33 million shares outstanding. Today, on 3 July 2019, the GLN stock price settled market trading at AUD 0.175 with approximately 256,029 shares traded in total.
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