Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) has expanded its US lithium interests via claim staking of two new projects, Wilson Salt Flat and Spencer. The two lithium brine projects are considered prospective for lithium with initial sampling returning results up to 550ppm lithium in surface samples.
- Zenith has secured two new 100% owned lithium brine projects – Spencer and Wilson Salt Flat in Nevada, USA;
- Nevada is host to both Tesla’s Gigafactory and to Albermarle Corporation’s Silver Peak-Clayton Valley lithium brine operation. Silver Peak is the only operational lithium project in the USA;
- Securing these wholly owned projects through claim staking is the result of a 6 month long detailed study by the Company of lithium brine targets in four contiguous western USA states, involving extensive desktop modelling and field studies;
- Initial reconnaissance sampling by Zenith returned up to 550ppm lithium in surface sediments – comparable to and higher than those from competitor lithium brine projects in the USA;
- The high-grade lithium surface sample results are coincident with gravity low anomalies reflecting basin sedimentary sequences that potentially host lithium brines. Local geothermal springs indicate active circulating hot waters capable of leaching lithium whilst both aeromagnetic and gravity modelling indicate complex basement geology indicative of major faults capable of channelling and focusing lithium enriched geothermal fluids; and
- Infill surface sampling and ground based geophysical surveys are planned for mid-December prior to drill testing.
Zenith Minerals Limited (“Zenith” or “the Company”) is pleased to advise that it has secured two new 100% owned lithium brine exploration projects in central western Nevada, USA – Spencer and Wilson Salt Flat.
The nearby Silver Peak operation in Clayton Valley is currently the only operational USA lithium project. Production by Albemarle Corporation formerly Rockwood Lithium, is facilitated through an extraction system that pumps groundwater enriched in lithium to surface solar evaporation ponds on the property. Evaporation of fluid from the ponds over a period of 12 to 18 months increases the lithium concentration prior to transfer of the concentrated brine to a processing plant for final product development. Tesla’s lithium ion battery production facility (Gigafactory) is under construction nearby, also in Nevada.
The conceptual deposit model for Zenith’s new Spencer and Wilson Salt Flat Projects is adapted from the known deposits being exploited by Albemarle Corporation. Six different water-bearing formations or aquifer types have been identified in Clayton Valley. These are specific volcano-sedimentary units within the valley-fill sequence that are either saturated in lithium-enriched brine or contain salt or clay minerals with anomalously high concentrations of lithium. In addition, recent lithium brine drilling success by Pure Energy Minerals (TSX-V:PE) in the south of Clayton Valley provides an additional lithium brine host architecture model, whereby basin margin faults along the eastern boundary have a strong control on the host sequences and entrained lithium brines.
The geologic setting within the closed Great Basin, with its thick sequence of Quaternary age clastic sediments, ash beds and evaporate deposits is prospective for lithium brines. The geologic formations that compose the surrounding mountain ranges, specifically certain Tertiary-age volcanic formations, contain anomalous concentrations of lithium and are considered one likely source of lithium in brines and sedimentary layers similar to those in the Clayton Valley area. In addition, Quaternary age tuff units crop out within the Spencer claims; these units are a second potential source for lithium in brines.