Lithium has the highest electrochemical potential of any metal, an extremely high co-efficient of thermal expansion, fluxing and catalytic characteristics, and low density. Lithium is highly sought after for a range of industrial uses, in particular energy storage where it is a vital component of most popular battery electrolytes and electrodes. A high charge and power to weight ratio makes lithium ideal for applications where weight is a significant consideration (e.g. electric vehicles, mobile phones, hand tools, drones and robots).
Jindalee’s geologists recently identified and pegged two U.S. lithium projects at Clayton North and McDermitt. The projects were generated internally by Jindalee after an extensive search across Nevada, Arizona and Oregon by Australian and U.S. based personnel, and after ground truthing and sampling of twelve potential project areas. The claims are all 100% owned by HiTech Minerals Inc., a US based, wholly owned subsidiary of Jindalee. The projects have exposed thicknesses of up to 67m of outcropping lithium bearing clays, with significant assay results from initial surface sampling. For more detail please see our recent ASX releases here.
While lithium is found in pegmatites, brines and clays, lithium bearing clays have several characteristics that meet Jindalee’s investment criteria including:
- Mineralisation is from surface, flat lying to shallowly dipping with low to non-existent stripping ratios.
- Soft, with low cost mining and easy to drill, allowing for rapid exploration progress.
- The economics of advanced clay projects indicate costs for the production of lithium compounds are highly competitive.
- Adequate scale potential to support a long mine life.
While the U.S.A. is an attractive location for development of lithium projects for several reasons:
- Growing local demand is currently satisfied by imported material (e.g. Tesla’s Gigafactory is located ~250km from Jindalee’s Clayton North Project) with the Silver Peak mine owned by Albermarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) the only operating production facility in the US.
- The US is politically stable, with excellent infrastructure and a skilled labour force.
- Nevada is ranked 3rd best jurisdiction in the world for mining (2017 Fraser Institute Investment Attractiveness Survey).
- Lithium is one of 23 commodities in the 2017 ‘Critical Mineral Resources of the US’ report by the United States Geological Survey.
- Executive Order ‘Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals’ signed by President Trump on 20 December 2017 makes the development of lithium projects in the U.S.A. a focus for Federal agencies.
- 100% owned tenure, with no royalty overhang.
The Clayton North project is located 23km north of the only producing lithium operation in the USA at Silver Peak. Extensive areas of lithium (Li) bearing claystones outcrop within the claims area, and have returned assay results of up to 930 ppm Li in sampling by the Company’s geologists. The project is ideally located in close proximity to the only lithium producing operation in the U.S.A.
With title to the claims now confirmed, Jindalee is working to obtain the necessary permits and approvals to allow drill testing of the project area. The proposed drilling program is designed to follow up the encouraging values returned from initial surface sampling of weathered material and test for extensions to lithium mineralisation beneath the thin cover observed in the northern part of the claim area. Samples of the oxide material have also been submitted for initial metallurgical testwork to test the amenability of the lithium bearing clays to simple leaching.
The McDermitt Project area hosts lithium bearing claystones that outcrop over most of the ~4km X ~5km project area with substantial thicknesses of up to 67m noted from surface (Figures 4 & 5, Table 1). Significantly, scree and recent cover obscures the base of the clay outcrops and the true width of the prospective horizon is likely to be greater than the observed thicknesses.
Assay results up to 3020 ppm Li were returned from composite channel samples, auger and shallow core drilling (Figure 3, Table 1). Importantly some of the highest grades were returned from composite samples over thicknesses of 50m and greater (e.g. Figure 4) suggesting that lithium is not confined to specific horizons, but consistently found within broad intervals of clays.