IM Lithium News in Brief 3 – 9 February

By Myles McCormick
Published: Tuesday, 09 February 2016

Orocobre reaches breakeven production at Olaroz; study dashes Wyoming lithium hopes.

ASX-listed Orocobre Ltd has achieved a breakeven level of production at its Olaroz lithium carbonate facility in Argentina, following numerous setbacks and delays in 2015.

The company produced 699 tonnes lithium carbonate in January, a jump of 272 tonnes from the 427 tonnes produced in December.

The increased production came as it announced it had completed "de-bottlenecking" work at Olaroz. It now forecasts production of 2,400 tonnes lithium carbonate over the current quarter.

A report by the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) has indicated that lithium extraction in the state is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

"Given the higher lithium concentrations and lower production costs, it is unlikely that any Wyoming brine deposit can compete economically with the Nevada and South American facilities," the study found.

Lithium had previously been mined from spodumene in the state during the Second World War. However, the size of resources present in Wyoming are uneconomical to mine today, the WSGS said.

Venus Metals Corp., an ASX-listed junior, has applied for two strategic tenements in the Greenbushes lithium province in Western Australia (WA).

The applications form part of the Greenbushes East project, 220km southeast of Perth. The site covers 550km2 and borders the Talison Lithium Ltd joint venture (JV)’s operational Greenbushes spodumene project, the world’s largest source of lithium from hard-rock.

ASX-listed Lithium Australia NL and TSX-listed Alix Resources Ltd have formalised a binding JV programme to explore the Electra lithium project in Sonora, Mexico.

The companies said that field crews will return to the Electra shortly to commence an exploration program designed and approved by both management teams.  

Metalicity Ltd, also ASX-listed, has lodged a further seven exploration license applications in WA.

The applications cover a total area of 1,103km2 across four project areas which Metalicity said are considered prospective for lithium.

The projects were generated from the company’s in-house exploration targeting model, developed from a database of lithium occurrences and prospective geological settings for lithium mineralisation.

Liontown Resources Ltd, also listed on the ASX, is set to acquire the Bynoe lithium-tantalum project in Australia’s Northern Territory from unlisted Orema Pty Ltd.

The company will pay Australian dollar (A$) 10,000 ($7,087*) in cash up front and a further $A100,000 within a 19-month period from the date of closure.

Liontown last month acquired the Mohanga lithium project in Tanzania.

ASX-listed Crusader Resources Ltd has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with unlisted Lepidco Ltd, under which they intend to exploit lithium resources in Brazil in a JV.

The deal is supported by ASX-listed Platypus Minerals Ltd, which is currently considering purchasing Lepidco under a one month exclusivity agreement.

Argosy Minerals Ltd, another ASX-listed junior, has executed a heads of agreement (HoA) with Geotech International Pty Ltd, which allows it a two year option period to purchase the Mount Paris lithium project in Tasmania, Australia.

This will be Argosy’s first foray into lithium, as part of a broad strategy to focus on precious metals, new technology and agriculture.

Mount Paris, situated 60km northeast of the city of Launceston, comprises one granted exploration licence covering an area of 115km².

TSX-V-listed Zadar Ventures Ltd has entered into a standstill agreement with a private Nevada-based company to negotiate an option to purchase two prospective lithium projects near Silver Peak, Nevada.

One of the sites is adjacent to Albemarle Corp.’s site in North Clayton Valley and covers 425ha (4.25km2), while the other is located 18km southeast of Silver Peak and spans 330ha (3.3km2).

A US Geological Survey (USGS) drill hole on the former project reported a 55 ppm maximum lithium content from analysed water samples. The latter is undrilled.

Zadar said it expects to have executed a definitive agreement on the deal by 25 February.

In downstream news, Berlin, Germany-based Qinous GmbH has installed a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery-based energy storage system at a Haiti hospital.

The system provides daytime grid stabilisation, allowing for full solar penetration from a 230 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic system and complete shutdown of diesel generators during the day.

The facility was financed by the Swiss partnership, HAS Haiti.

*Conversion made February 2016