CLAYTON VALLEY- LITHIUM (100%) USA
The Clayton Valley Basin is endowed in places with both lithium-rich brines and clays. The Company’s Lithium Brine Project is located the north-east side of south end of the Clayton Valley Basin and to the south of the only producing lithium mine in North America. The location is well suited to service the US domestic market with lithium brines exploited by scalable, staged development that can be expanded with increasing demand. The Project is approximately 3.5 hours away from Tesla’s Gigafactory 1, a large lithium-ion battery factory.
Nevada continues to be an active area of lithium exploration and mining. The Silver Peak lithium mine to the northeast of the property held by Albemarle Corporation has extracted lithium minerals from brines continuously since 1966.
The Claims consist of 111 (40 and 20 acre) mineral claims on US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered land covering approximately 3,000 acres (~12.14 km2) along the southeast side of the playa lake.
The Claims are situated adjacent to the southeastern edge of the Clayton Valley salt pan. The Claims are abutted to the west by claims held by Pure Energy Minerals whom hold claims over the southern extension of the Clayton Valley salt pan; to the east by Noram Ventures claims; and to the north by claims held by Matica Enterprises. North of Matica Enterprises claims are claims held by Cypress Resources, whilst claims on the western side of the Clayton Valley are held by Lithium-X. The Claims lie seven (7) kilometres southeast of the Silver Peak Operations lithium mine, owned by Albermarle-Rockwood Holdings Inc. This operation has been producing lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide from Li brines since the mid-1960s and is the largest producer of lithium compounds in North America.
Climate and physiography
Vegetation is sparse, but with sufficient scrub to support range pastures cattle stock. Temperatures range from average highs of 35 degrees Celsius in August to average lows of -8 degrees Celsius in December.
Precipitation averages 11.2 cm per year with ~7 cm of snowfall. Annual evaporation exceeds 127 cm of which the majority occurs in a five-month period.
Clayton valley is a broad open playa valley lying within the large geographical and geological Basin and range Province of western United States of America. Clayton Valley is a typical north-south oriented topographical low surrounded by rolling to rugged hills and ranges. The floor of the Clayton Valley playa is at 1300m elevation.
Clayton Valley occurs as a topographic low within the Basin and Range Province, a large geographical and geological region that covers most of Nevada and adjacent states. The valley has about 100 km2 of playa floor and a drainage catchment of approximately 1,300 km2 (Harrop, 2009).
The area is still geologically young, with numerous active faults along the southeast side and recent volcanic eruptions (a cinder cone on the NW side of the valley has been dated at around 390,000 years). Fault scarps identified on the eastern margin of the playa, along the western edge of SOC claims, strike ~020o.
The most recent movement on these faults is considered to have taken place less the 10,000 years ago (Harrop, 2009).
Lithium concentrations in the brines in Clayton Valley have been relatively consistent in the range of 150- 200 ppm (150-200 mg/l) from recent production history. The brines from the northern part of the Clayton Valley are Na/Cl in composition and have lithium concentrations in the range of 60-400 ppm (60-400 mg/litre) Li. The lithium enrichment in the Clayton Valley is described as a combination of a continental brine deposit and a continental evaporite / tuffaceous claystone deposit. Lithium could come from a variety of sources:
- Weathering of high-Li content volcanic rocks;
- Inflow of lithium brines or saline waters from adjacent valleys;
- Hydrothermal fluids related to shallow magmatic sources;
- Hot springs.
Evaporation resulted in concentration of lithium content in brines within the basin and precipitation within halite-rich evaporite and within clay beds within the stratigraphic column. These evaporites indicate dry periods in geological time, which are interspersed with wetter periods marked by layers of lacustrine clays and subaqueous tuffs. Li-rich brines can accumulate within the crystallised halite layers or form Li-bearing clays.
Studies suggest that the modern brines currently being extracted have been derived from dissolving salts in the playa sediments, rather than from recharge waters. This conclusion is further supported by comparing the Na:Cl ratios of the brines and the inflow waters (Davis, et al, 1986). Groundwaters passing through aquifers in the stratigraphic section, mostly tuff layers, have remobilised the lithium and conducted the brines downward to impermeable rock traps at fault scarps.
If this model is correct the deeper brines can be expected to have higher Li concentration, sampling of near-surface brines will not give an indication of the concentrations of the brines at depth. Similarly near surface or at surface Li-bearing sediments or sediments within aquifers may be leached and therefore may not be a true indication of the Li content of the un-oxidised sedimentary beds.
Tertiary lacustrine sediments and volcanics of the Esmeralda Formation, plus overlying Quaternary alluvial sediments and volcanics compose the aquifers hosting lithium brines in the Clayton Valley. Within the region of the SOC claims on the east side of the Clayton Valley there is a notable occurrence of Tertiary lacustrine and tuffaceous volcanics (Ts3) which have been faulted upwards and now lay at surface. The contained volcanic beds contain notably higher levels of lithium than other similar units on adjoining properties. Such volcanic beds are believed to have weathered and been leached to provide lithium bearing groundwater.
The lithium bearing brines moved down sequence/aquifers to localised low points in the aquifer system. Such low points are proposed to be down faulted blocks of gently dipping lacustrine sediments abutting along steeply west dipping, striking 020o, valley bounding normal faults. Below shows the Marquee Resources Project area overlaid on regional geology map with plotted known faults.
Satellite imagery shows several distinct areas of high light reflectance running approximately parallel to the faults through the Marquee Resources Claim area. These may correlate with Li bearing units which have been sampled on adjoining properties. These units and other units composing the Ts3 – Tertiary sedimentary sequence may be able to be discriminated from high resolution Landsat satellite imagery by principle component analysis or from other satellite based land mapping systems such as Aster and subsequent processing.
The individual sedimentary units making up the Tertiary sequence throughout the Marquee Resources Claims have not been mapped to any reasonable extent on a local scale. Such lithological mapping is strongly recommended for gaining a first principle geological understanding within the project area.