Dark Horse Resources implements an aggressive business strategy and model, to meet the increasing trend of many nations establishing regulations for the requirement to utilise electric vehicle technologies, which are majority based on lithium batteries.
Dark Horse’s objectives are to produce a lithium brine and develop a lithium carbonate plant in Catamarca creating significant cash flow and introducing lithium products to the market. Dark Horse has a defined work program which includes resource definition, JORC Reporting and feasibility, culminating in mining and infrastructure development. Dark Horse may seek a strategic partner to support and co-fund various parts of the development program, and in return, would provide attractive lithium product offtake arrangements.
The project lies in the southern end of the “Lithium Triangle” in the Puna Plateau. The area is characterized by high altitude salt flats, many of which contain elevated lithium concentrations and defined lithium resources.
The project is a group of 15 contiguous Exploration Licences covering an area of 36,600 hectares over the San Francisco Salt Lake basinin Catamarca province, Argentina.
Nucleus of salar is 7,000 hectares in area - large enough to define a world class lithium brine project, with Dark Horse’s leases covering all of it except a small section in the north.
Catamarca province have embraced exploration and mining activities by local and foreign companies for close to 30 years, including Xtrata’s large Alumbrera gold-copper mine and Argentina’s first lithium brine operation by Livent (formally FMC) in the Hombre Muerto salar. Galaxy and Posco are currently exploring their portion of the Hombre Muerto salar, and Albemarle is exploring the Antofalla salar.
The San Jorge project is located close to the border of Chile near National Route 60, a fully paved highway connecting Argentina with Chile and providing the project with excellent logistics. The project is just under 500km by road northwest from the provincial capital city Catamarca, and 400km east from deep-water ports in Chile.
The project is at an elevation of approximately 4,000m. The climate allows operations all year round and is conducive to high solar radiation and low rainfall providing for acceptable evaporation rates, as per other operating salars in the region including Olaroz, Cauchari and Hombre Muerto.
Maricunga salar in Chile lies 90km to the west and 3Q salar in Catamarca 70km southwest, both salars containing some high concentrations of lithium. Lithium Power International, SQM and Codelco hold the majority of the Maricunga salar and Neo Lithium Corporation the 3Q salar. Antofalla salar lies 100km north and Hombre Muerto salar 200km northeast of San Francisco.
The figure below, provides a cross-section diagram of the San Francisco salar lake and basin at depth, which is similar to others in the region.
Dark Horse holds all the exploration rights to all of this basin, which is surrounded by volcanic mountains. Lithium-rich fluids flow from the mountains over many years into the closed basin in conjunction with alluvial sediments, gradually filling it up as porous material, which today host the lithium-rich deposits.
As the initial permits to carry out exploration activities are in place, Dark Horse plans to commence exploration immediately with a surface sampling program to understand the initial chemistry of the salar. Geophysics will be carried out in conjunction with this program to determine the size and geometry of the basin. This work is designed to define drilling targets, and in conjunction with pump tests, will allow definition of the complete hydrogeological conditions and mineralisation potential. Dark Horse has an in-house exploration and development team with substantial experience and expertise in the delineation and testing of lithium brines and will utilise this knowledge to fast track the program. In parallel with this work, an Environmental Impact Statement Report will be secured, allowing drilling and pump testing.
It is expected to arrive at a Preliminary Economic Assessment within 1-2 years, thence moving to Definitive Feasibility and ultimate development. The San Francisco salar has been overlooked and there has been no detailed exploration undertaken. Preliminary reconnaissance work carried out indicated early promising signs about its lithium potential.
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