Willcox Lithium / Arizona

New technology planned for lithium sediment project

Stria holds 100 per cent ownership of the Willcox Lithium project, located in Cochise County, Arizona. Acquired through the purchase of Pueblo Lithium LLC from AGR-O Phosphate Inc. in 2014, the property is comprised of 61 lode mining claims.

Willcox Playa is located a few kilometres south of the city of Willcox in north-central Cochise County, 120 km east of Tucson. This barren flat — elevation 1,260 metres (approx. 4,136 feet) — is the lowest part of Willcox basin, which is the northern end of Sulphur Springs Valley. The location is known for its lithium content, and Willcox Playa was part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s 1978 drill program testing lithium distributions in the late Cenozoic sedimentary basin.

Sulphur Springs Valley trends about north-northwest and is flanked by mountain ranges on the east and west sides. The mountain ranges are the cumulative result of large-scale faulting and uplift during the mid-Tertiary age. During and after this period, tectonic detritus eroded from the uplifted blocks and was deposited in the adjacent valleys and basins. The alluvial deposits that have filled Willcox basin consist of moderately consolidated conglomerate, sandstone and mudstone of Tertiary age; poorly consolidated gravel, sand, silt and clay of Quaternary-Tertiary age; unconsolidated stream deposits of gravel, sand, silt and clay of Quaternary age; and lake muds and associated sediments of the playa of Quaternary age (Brown and Schumann, 1969).

A reverse circulation drill program was conducted by the USGS with samples collected every 1.5 metres from the collar of the hole to 315.5 m, the end of the hole drilled. Seven (7) stratigraphic intervals with a combined thickness of 23 m exceeded 500 ppm lithium as shown below:

Water samples were also taken and four of them returned assays >0.40mg/l, which led the USGS to conclude that the deposition of the lithium in the Willcox Playa sediments may be climatically controlled.

Stria’s approach to this region precludes using a standard evaporation pond method to recover lithium carbonate. We are developing a process based on membrane technology, solvent extraction and subsequent return of the depleted brine to the aquifer. This process eliminates the massive — and unsightly — ponds normally associated with lithium brine operations, and will minimize disturbance to the aquifer. It ultimately should prove economical even for a more traditional salar brine deposit.

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Stria’s approach to this region precludes using a standard evaporation pond method to recover lithium carbonate. We are developing a process based on membrane technology, solvent extraction and subsequent return of the depleted brine to the aquifer. This process eliminates the massive — and unsightly — ponds normally associated with lithium brine operations, and will minimize disturbance to the aquifer.