Latin American Minerals’ Potash-Lithium Project in Argentina: Brine Concentrations Comparable to Producing Mines
Latin American Minerals Inc. (TSX VENTURE: LAT) (the “Corporation” or “Latin American”) reports encouraging initial brine sample results from its extensive, wholly-owned salt lake properties in northwest Argentina. The concentrations of potash and lithium in the samples are potentially economically significant because several are comparable to or higher than the brine concentrations reported in world class producing mines in the region and around the world.
The Corporation’s Salares Potash-Lithium Project is located on the Puna Plateau in northwest Argentina, adjacent to the border with Chile, as shown in Map 1. The region hosts one of the largest concentrations of economic evaporite deposits in the world. Latin American’s 100%-owned 84,000 hectares are strategically located on salt lakes of the Argentinean Puna including: Arizaro (60,314 ha), Incahuasi (7,168 ha), Pocitos (14,381 ha) and Cauchari (1,561 ha), as shown in Maps 2 and 3. The properties are within 100 km of several producing mines, including:
– Salar de Atacama, owned by SQM (Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A.), which is the world’s largest lithium brine mine and a significant potash producer, located on the Chilean side of the border,
– FMC Corp.’s Fenix brine complex in Argentina which contains high uniform concentrations of lithium with low levels of other contaminants and is the fifth largest lithium producer in the world, and
– Rio Tinto’s Tincalayu complex in Argentina which is South America’s largest borate mining operation.
Latin American’s exploration program consists of excavating 1-2m deep holes cutting across the salt lake crust to sample the brine underneath. A total of 64 pits have been dug and 39 of them contained brine. In order to maximize exploration success, a portable XRF gun (NITON Thermo Scientific) was used in the field to identify the most prospective potash anomalies in the crust. The exploration team collected a total of 39 brine samples and 64 crust samples distributed in the four major salt lakes: Arizaro (35 samples), Incahuasi (32 samples), Pocitos (16 samples) and Cauchari (20 samples).
Preliminary results of 14 brine samples show significant potassium values with high lithium credits in all samples collected in the Incahuasi Salt Lake, and significant lithium grades in the crust of the Cauchari Salt Lake. Potassium results in Incahuasi are all above known producing mines. The Dead Sea in Jordan produces potash with 0.6% potassium (the major element of potash) in the brine, and the Great Salt Lake in Utah produces with 0.65% potassium in the brine (Plavovic, 2004, Industrial Minerals and Rocks, 2008). Collectively, 15% of the world’s potash and 90% of the world’s lithium is produced from brines from the Puna Plateau, the Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea regions.
Initial brine sample results from Latin American’s salt lake properties are summarized below:
—————————————————————– Sampl e Salt Lake Potassium (%) Lithium (ppm) Boron (ppm) —————————————————————– 11855 Cauchari 0.29 489 591 11858 Cauchari 0.02 40 145 11860 Cauchari 0.00 2 5 —————————————————————– 11861 Pocitos 0.25 61 200 —————————————————————– 11864 Incahuasi 0.53 155 78 11866 Incahuasi 0.94 239 105 11867 Incahuasi 0.67 148 92 11869 Incahuasi 0.86 182 103 11871 Incahuasi 0.81 204 93 —————————————————————– 11873 Arizaro 0.35 72 22 11876 Arizaro 0.19 31 10 11880 Arizaro 0.10 22 9 11881 Arizaro 0.01 1 1 11882 Arizaro 0.03 6 1 —————————————————————–
Preliminary results of 8 crust samples have been received from Arizaro and Cauchari salt lakes. Cauchari reflects outstanding potassium, lithium and boron anomalies.
——————————————————————- Sam ple Salt Lake Potassium(%) Lithium (ppm) Boron (ppm) ——————————————————————- 4554 Arizaro este 0.02 18 4 4555 Arizaro este 0.05 124 20 4556 Arizaro este 0.02 8 2 4557 Arizaro este 0.04 28 5 4558 Arizaro este 0.06 19 17 4561 Arizaro 0.43 58 38 ——————————————————————- 4559 Cauchari 1.45 1960 13254 4560 Cauchari 2.18 2348 15666 ——————————————————————-
Dr. Waldo Perez, Sr. Vice President of Exploration, reports, “this evaporite district is one of the largest in the world and has outstanding infrastructure, from railroad to roads, electricity and major gas pipelines. However the last coordinated effort to explore it was done in the 1970s and 1980s by the Argentinean government. Latin American Minerals covers an unprecedented amount of ground and the initial mine-grade results indicate the outstanding exploration potential of the district. Further results are expected within a month.”
The exploration program will continue with evaporation testing on selected targets within each salt lake to monitor the evolution of the brine chemistry with evaporation, the porosity/permeability of the deposit, and the hydrologic mass balance of the lake. We anticipate using this information to establish a resource that can move rapidly to feasibility and development.
The Corporation’s exploration team includes Eduardo Peralta, PhD in Geochemistry, with over 40 years of experience exploring Puna for the Argentinean Geological Survey and consulting for major companies including Rio Tinto, CRA, IAMGOLD, and Vale Do Rio Doce, and Eulogio Ramallo, a geologist with 37 years of experience working for United Nations, the Argentinean Army exploration branch and the Argentinean Geological Survey. Both experts have extensive experience in the exploration, discovery and development of potash, lithium, sulphur and phosphate deposits and were fundamental to the discovery of the world class Fenix Lithium brine deposit. Vector Engineer SA (an Ausenco Group Company) has been retained to provide engineering advice in the evaluation and reporting of the project. Jose Ferretti, Vector Northern Argentina Manager, commented, “The exploration approach the Corporation is taking is thorough and methodical for a junior company exploring in the Puna”.
“The initial sample results are potentially economically significant, given that the potassium results for our Incahuasi Property are comparable with the world-class producing mines in the region and are higher than the grades reported for the producing mines exploiting the brines of the Dead Sea in Jordan and the Great Salt Lake in USA,” reports David Wahl, President and CEO.
Potash deposits are exploited by either surface or underground mining methods. Surface mining exploits evaporite deposits, which are formed on surface as salt lakes. These salt lakes can be dry or contain salt brine, which is variably covered with a salt crust formed by evaporation. Mining of the dry salt lake is by conventional open pit methods and, in the case of a salt lake containing brine, the salt bearing solution is pumped to a processing plant where the various salts including potassium, the major element of potash, and lithium are extracted. The time required to bring surface mining operations into production is short, ranging from 1 to 3 years. Capital costs are also relatively low, ranging from $10 to $110 million (based upon public information for Admiralty Resources’ El Rincon lithium/potash facility and FMC Corp.’s Fenix brine complex facility, respectively, both regional facilities). Underground mining methods include traditional room and pillar and the more recently developed deep well solution mining. Both underground methods have high capital costs, ranging from $500 million to $5 billion, and typically have long development times of up to 10 years. Argentina is a net importer of potash, much of which is used to fertilize its highly valued soya bean crop. The Mineral Commodity Summaries, 2008, report potash prices at US$600 per tonne.
Lithium deposits are dominantly exploited by surface mining methods, either as open pit mining of lithium rich pegmatites or as a valued component of brine mining of salt lakes. Demand for lithium has increased dramatically recently, supported by demand for lithium-ion batteries used to power hybrid electric vehicles and portable devices such as cell phones and computers. Demand growth is projected to continue as lightweight and reliable lithium-ion batteries have become mainstays in a variety of new battery driven industrial applications. Lithium is not traded on any metal exchange: price is negotiated with the end user. Currently, prices range around US$6,000 per tonne for lithium carbonate, the most common output of a brine mine (Mineral Commodity Summaries, 2008).
Dr. Waldo Perez, P.Geo., is Latin American Minerals Inc.’s internal Qualified Person under the requirements of National Instrument 43-101 and is responsible for this press release. Latin American Minerals Inc. is a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition and development of mineral projects in under-explored but highly-prospective countries of Latin America.
Sampling and Analytical Protocols: Sampling and analytical protocols were implemented and supervised by or under the direction of Dr. Waldo Perez, the Corporation’s internal Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101. All of the lithogeochemical samples were collected by geologists taking into account the nature of the material being sampled. The crust sample was collected with a hammer from surface, weighted between 2 to 4 kilograms and was collected in a plastic bag, tagged with a pre-numbered ticket and tightly closed with plastic tape. The brines samples were collected in a brand new plastic bottle filled atop containing 1 litre of brine and tightly closed. All samples were tagged with a pre-numbered ticket and stored in a secured location at the base camp for no more than 10 days. The brines were stored in a dark room. The samples were shipped by courier to Alex Stewart Assayers Argentina S.A. (“ASAA”) laboratories in Mendoza (Argentina). ASAA is an ISO 9001-2000-certified laboratory with headquarters in England. The crust samples were grinded to #200 mesh, then split and dissolved in hot water. A total of 500 ml of sample have been separated for ICP analysis. The brine samples were filtered and read directly by ICP analysis. All samples were assayed for 13 elements by ICP. Accuracy and precision of results is tested through the systematic inclusion of blanks and duplicates.
This news release contains forward-looking statements, which can be identified by the use of statements that include words such as “could”, “potential”, “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “plan”, “likely”, “will” or other similar words or phrases. These forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the Corporation’s beliefs in potential mineralization, are based on current expectations, assumptions and projections about future events and entail various risks and uncertainties that are beyond the Corporation’s ability to control or predict. Actual results may materially differ from expectations as more information regarding a property is gathered or if the Corporation’s estimates or assumptions prove inaccurate. Factors that may materially affect actual results include, but are not limited to, political, business and economic conditions in Argentina and in jurisdictions where the Corporation conducts business, and risks associated with mineral exploration and production. The Corporation does not intend, and does not assume any obligations, to update forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The results described herein are exploratory in nature and there can be no assurance that they are indicative of Mineral Resources as defined in accordance with National Instrument 43-101.
To view Map 1: Location of Latin American Minerals Inc.’s Salares Potash-Lithium Project, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/Map%201.pdf
To view Map 2: Properties and Potassium anomalies Sample Locations, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/2Map.pdf
To view Map 3: Properties and Lithium anomalies Sample Locations, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/3Map.pdf
The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or the accuracy of this release.
Contacts: Latin American Minerals Inc. David Wahl (416) 363-0841 Website: www.latinamericanminerals.com
SOURCE: Latin American Minerals Inc.