NRG enlists consultants for economic analysis of lithium mines in Argentina

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Canadian exploration company NRG Metals engaged the consultancy firm Knight Piésold Consulting alongside JDS Energy & Mining to conduct a preliminary economic assessment of the company’s exploration plans at Hombre Muerto Salar, an active lithium production area in the northwest of Argentina.

Lithium has become in recent years one of the most demanded energetic metals in the world. For decades, metal has been the backbone of everyday life – lithium has been a raw material for a wide range of products, from electronics and batteries to window glass. However, the rise of electronics and especially of electric vehicles and solar panels has exploded the need for lithium. Lithium production is now estimated at over 44,000 metric tonnes, up from just 28,000 metric tonnes in 2010.

In the future, the role of lithium – the lightest metal known – in society and the economy will only increase. Every smartphone and fully electric car in the world is powered by lithium-ion technology, and the exponential growth of these two segments will bring in their wake the future boom in lithium demand and production.

After Australia (18,700 tonnes of lithium ore production) and Chile (14,100 tonnes), Argentina (5,500 tonnes) is a heavyweight in the global lithium exploration chain. The region of the country “Salar del Hombre Muerto”, located in the provinces of Salta and Catamarca, is one of the most active and promising areas in Argentina for the production of lithium, comprising several concessions (an area allocated by the government for mineral extraction).

The Hombre Muerto North Lithium project

After acquiring the “Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project” in June 2017, a 3,287 hectare property complex comprising six concessions *, NRG Metals has now started a more detailed economic analysis on potential exploration. Adrian Hobkirk, President and CEO of the Managing Director of NRG, explained: “The grades we are seeing on the Hombre Muerto project are among the highest reported for all lithium brine deposits in Argentina. The combination of high contents, excellent chemistry and good pumping rates are very positive indicators which we hope will allow us to move the project forward through feasibility studies to production if the viability economic and technical feasibility of the project are established.

NRG Metals, based in Vancouver, Canada, aims to extract 5,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year, with potential for expansion. According to an audit commissioned by Hobkirk last year, the Hombre Muerto North Lithium project harbors 571,000 tonnes of good to high quality lithium carbonate (a lithium carbonate equivalent grade of 756 parts per million lithium).

To support the company’s strategy for the project, NRG Metals engaged two external expert firms to perform a preliminary economic assessment. The Canadian company JDS Energy & Mining is an expert in the realization of mining and construction projects. The Vancouver-based company recently completed work at the Minto mine in the Yukon, the Gahcho Kue mine in the Northwest Territories and the Silvertip mine in northern British Columbia – all three mines are located in Canada .

Knight Piésold Consulting is a consulting firm providing specialist services to the mining, energy, water resources, infrastructure, and oil and gas industries. Established in South Africa in 1921, Knight Piésold Consulting has more than 800 professionals across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Engagement with NRG Metals will be carried out from the company’s Latin American offices in Argentina, based in Mendoza, San Juan and Neuquen.

The report from JDS Energy & Mining and Knight Piésold Consulting is expected to be delivered in the first quarter of this year.

NRG Metals’ efforts come shortly after Galaxy Resources, an Australia-based producer, announced it was shifting operations in the Hombre Muerto Salar, Sal de Vida project, to lithium production.

* The Hombre Muerto North Lithium project includes the Alba Sabrina, Tramo, Natalia Maria, Gaston Enrique, Viamonte and Norma Edit concessions.


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