Noram’s land position in Clayton Valley, Nevada consists of 150 placer claims and 140 lode claims. The land package covers 1214.06 hectares (3000 acres). The perimeter of Noram’s claims are located within 1-mile (1.6 kilometers) of Albemarle Corporation’s (Albemarle’s) lithium brine operations. Lithium is produced at Albemarle’s plant from deep wells that pump brines from the basin beneath the Clayton Valley playa. The plant is the only lithium producer in the United States and has been producing lithium at this location continuously since 1967. Between Albemarle’s operations and Noram’s land position lies a property comparable in size to the Zeus Property and held by Cypress Development Corp.
Figure 1. Zeus lithium deposit, Clayton Valley, Nevada , with 300 ppm (yellow), 600 ppm (orange) and 900 ppm (red) cut-off boundaries in plan view. Albemarle’s Silver Peak lithium brine ponds are seen to the northwest. The Phase 4 drill hole collars are located in red. Drill collars for earlier programs are omitted for clarity. Cross-sections A-A’ from northwest to southeast, and B-B’ from northeast to southwest are given in figures 2 and 3, respectively. The lithium claystone deposit is present at the surface or under a thin alluvium veneer, and has a strip ratio of 0.1:1. The deposit is open to the south and east on the property where there is >2 km2 of area for future drill testing.
Figure 2. Cross section from northwest to southeast showing lithium grade. The section has a 4x vertical exaggeration for clarity. The higher grade intervals of over 1200 ppm lithium in red and pink are relatively pure claystone, and the lower grade material in green is commonly claystone with silt or sand. Infill drilling and step-out drilling to the southeast are required to completely delineate the deposit.
Figure 3. Cross section from northeast to southwest showing lithium grade. The section has a 4x vertical exaggeration. Note that the deposit thickens and has higher grades to the southwest. Further drilling is required in this direction.
Initial step-wise leaching tests conducted at 20oC and at 80oC for samples taken at surface and at a depth of ~30 meters downhole provide encouragement that the lithium can be extracted from the clays. These tests demonstrated that >80% of the lithium in the two samples is leachable with moderate amounts of sulfuric acid. Similar results have been obtained for an adjacent property to the Zeus Property.
The November 2019 Phase 4 drill program successfully expanded the Zeus lithium claystone deposit, and a new resource estimate has been made (see January 29, 2020 press release). At a 900 ppm lithium cut-off, the Zeus deposit has 124 million tonnes at 1136 ppm lithium as indicated resources, and 77 million tonnes lithium at 1045 ppm lithium as inferred resources, for a total of 201 million tonnes at 1101 ppm lithium (1.18 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent – “LCE”). This represents an increase in tonnage of 38 percent from the previous resource estimate at a 900 ppm lithium cut-off.
A breakdown of grade and tonnage by resource category and by cut-off values is given in Table 1, and drill results are given in Table 2. The resource has increased substantially from the previous resource at all cut-off values. The Phase IV drill program was designed to test the Esmeralda Formation claystone beneath earlier drill holes that previously extended only to ~30 meters depth. This drill program was highly successful in expanding the resources and providing data to guide further drilling in 2020.
Table 1. Zeus lithium deposit resource estimate, 2020-02
Initial mineralogical studies and leaching tests were conducted on Zeus lithium clay samples in 2018, including work by Actlabs of Ancaster, Ontario, and Autec Innovative Extractive solutions Ltd., Vancouver, British Colombia. Results of initial leach tests are highly encouraging. They suggest that only moderate temperatures and moderate amounts of sulfuric acid are necessary to remove >80% of the lithium in the samples. Further testing is necessary to develop sequential precipitation of magnesium (and other cation) sulfates prior to precipitating lithium sulfate for conversion to a marketable lithium carbonate (or hydroxide) product.
Testing by other companies on their lithium clay properties, including Lithium Americas (Thacker Pass Project, Nevada), Bacarona Minerals (Sonora Project, Mexico), Ioneer (Rhyolite Ridge Project, Nevada) and Cypress Development (Clayton Valley Project) have all indicated that economic extraction of the lithium may well be possible.