The junior miner Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. (TSX-V: LIT) (OTC: PNXLF) is accelerating its exploration work in the Argentinian salt flats through the use of a US$90 million investment from Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) received at the end of September.
The company announced Monday that it would be drilling 30 new holes at its Antofalla North project and a total of 20 at the Rincon West operation through the revised plan. The funding from Stellantis will carry the lithium junior through the exploration drilling phases and into resource definition and initial engineering studies at the projects, according to the CEO Nikolaos Cacos.
“We have cleared the biggest hurdle for any junior today, which is having financing secured for all the planned exploration activity, to the tune of up to fifteen million dollars next year alone if we complete all of our plans,” said Cacos.
The explorer completed its initial Rincon West drill program at the end of May this year and additional drilling there last month. Nine new holes will be drilled at the project in the coming days.
Following completion of an upcoming transient electromagnetic geophysics survey, six initial holes will be drilled at Antofalla North followed by an additional 24 holes later on.
“Our 2023 field work focused on drilling Rincon West and was extremely successful in identifying lithium-rich brines and advancing the project,” said the company’s Vice President of Exploration, Miles Rideout.
“At the same time, we assembled the large Antofalla North property package adjacent and to the north of Albemarle Corporation’s (NYSE: ALB) lithium project and now that we are funded we will be as aggressive as possible to advance the project alongside Rincon West.”
Argentina is a key lithium resource needed for growing demand
The so-called Lithium Triangle in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile holds approximately 67.5 per cent of the world’s lithium brine resources.
Many early-stage companies have been making strides to capitalize on Argentina’s lithium in particular. The country’s Ministry of Mining has estimated that lithium production in the nation will increase by about 50 per cent within the next year.
Analysts have predicted that Argentina will become the third top producer of the battery metal by 2027.
Lithium South Development Corporation (TSX-V: LIS) (OTCQB: LISMF) (Frankfurt: OGPQ) is one of the other emerging players in Argentina’s lithium industry. The company increased the lithium brine resource at its flagship Hombre Muerto North project by 175 per cent in September.
Lithium South then installed the first production well at the site in October. A technical report completed earlier this month estimated that the project’s lithium recovery rate was expected to increase by 40 per cent going forward.
The Hombre Muerto North project is located adjacent to large-scale lithium operations run by major producers like POSCO (KRX: 005490), Allkem Ltd (TSX: AKE) and Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM).
Other lithium juniors operating in the country include Edison Lithium Corp. (TSX-V: EDDY), Green Shift Commodities Ltd (TSX-V: GCOM) (OTCQB: GRCMF) and Ultra Lithium Inc. (TSX-V: ULT).
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