Viva ‘Li’ Vegas! Aussie explorers gamble on Nevada’s lithium riches
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Nevada, one of the world’s great gambling dens, lays claim to an abundant wealth of sought-after minerals such as lithium (Li).
It’s also home to Tesla’s “gigafactory”, which by 2018 will produce 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of lithium-ion batteries to support production of 500,000 electric cars per year.
That’s an attractive combination for a prospective lithium explorer — and several ASX-listed juniors are rolling the dice in the arid state.
Global Geoscience’s (ASX:GSC) Rhyolite Ridge project boasts one of the biggest lithium and boron deposits in North America and has the potential to become a strategic, long-life and low-cost source of lithium and boron.
The project has some 3.4 million tonnes of lithium carbonate plus 11.3 million tonnes of boric acid (which fetches $US750 to $US1250 per tonne).
What’s more, the project is practically a neighbour of Tesla’s gigafactory, located only 360 km away.
This month Global is undertaking a 5000m drilling program, hoping to upgrade the current resource estimate as part of a pre-feasibility study.
Global Geoscience managing director Bernard Rowe says the drilling has intercepted new, thick zones of consistent, flat-lying lithium-boron mineralisation.
“Drilling has also extended near-surface lithium-boron mineralisation to the south of the current resource, confirming the potential for Rhyolite Ridge to become a major, long-life supplier of lithium and boron in America,” he says.
But lithium isn’t the only metal being sought in the deserts of Nevada. Long before lithium was on explorer’s radars, Nevada was regarded as one of the gold mining capitals of the world.
From 1835 to 2008, gold production totalled 152 million troy ounces (4700 tonnes) worth some $253 billion at today’s spot gold price of $1667 an ounce.
Gold play Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS) has been busy building an asset portfolio in Nevada.
On Friday, Ramelius announced a deal with gold major Newmont Mining over its highly prospective South Monitor land package in southern Nevada.
Ramelius will earn up to 80 per cent in South Monitor by forking out $US8 million ($10 million) over eight years. Newmont will have the right to claw back a 70 per cent stake.
Ramelius is planning to carry out drilling at the project later this month.
The deal is the company’s second exploration agreement in Nevada this year.
In July, Ramelius announced a deal with Toronto-listed Renaissance Gold to earn up to 75 per cent of a gold project known as Jupiter by spending $3 million within five years.
The project, about 175 km north of Las Vegas, lies in the historic Queen City mining district and has returned surface rock chip values up to 3.12 grams per tonne of gold.
Ramelius will complete geological mapping, soil sampling and gravity surveys ahead of drill testing several targets for gold mineralisation.
The site has a similar geologic setting to Newmont’s Long Canyon gold mine which reported 1.2 million ounces of attributable gold reserves and 2.4 million ounces in resources in December.
While it’s exploring in Nevada, the company’s flagship operation is its Mount Magnet gold mine in Western Australia.
Shares in Global Geoscience, which had cash of more than $7 million at end of the last quarter, closed on Friday at 22c. Ramelius finished last week at 40c with $78.6 million cash at the end of last quarter.