TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2021 - Arena Minerals Inc. ("Arena" or the "Company") (TSX-V: AN) is pleased to announce that the Board of Sal de la Puna Holdings Ltd. has approved a comprehensive development work program for the Sal de la Puna Project. Sal de la Puna Holdings owns 100% interest in the Sal de la Puna Project ("SDLP") in the Pastos Grandes Basin located in Salta, Argentina, and is jointly owned by Arena (65%) and Ganfeng New Energy Technology Development (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. ("Ganfeng Lithium"; 1772.HK; OTCQX: GNENF) (35%).
The approved work program focuses on expanding the recently announced maiden lithium brine resource estimate (please refer to press release dated October 19, 2021) and advancing processing studies in order to establish an optimal route for the production of high purity lithium products.
Highlights of the approved work program include:
- Drilling to focus on resource upgrade and expansion
- Minimum 3,000 metres of diamond drilling
- 2 large diameter production wells
- Drilling covering 6 claims within Pastos Grandes basin
- Pilot plant and pond construction
- Engineering studies to optimize process routes to produce >30% lithium chloride products
The work program is fully permitted and is set to commence immediately.
"This work program is the backbone of our plan to fast-track the Sal de la Puna Project to a production decision. The drill program will help determine the potential resource on the most prospective claims while establishing a high quality measured and indicated resource on the Almafuerte & Graciela claims. Along with our engineering and processing studies that form part of this program, Arena will be in a great position to compile a preliminary mine plan and corresponding economic study," commented Eduardo Morales, Executive Chairman.
"Thanks to the sizeable backing from our partner Ganfeng Lithium and strategic investor Lithium Americas (TSX: LAC; NYSE: LAC) we are fully funded for the approved work program at SDLP," added William Randall, President & CEO.
Resource Growth Program
The drill program will be focused on the Almafuerte and Graciela blocks which border Millennial Lithium's Pastos Grandes project to the south and south-east. A map showing the proposed locations of the drill holes and wells can be seen in Figure 1. The program has been designed by the Management Committee, Arena and consultants to the Company with the objective of both increasing the category of the current resource and increasing the Project's resource base.
To date, resources have only been defined on the Almafuerte block covering approximately 6.5% of the total landholdings of the Company in the Pastos Grandes basin. Additional drill holes and a production well are planned within the Alamfuerte claim to increase the resource category and conduct long term pump tests to evaluate production potential of the lithium bearing aquifers. If successful, this drilling will allow the Company to graduate portions of the resource to Measured and/or Indicated categories and conduct preliminary wellfield designs, including predicted production capacities.
Priority resource expansion drilling will focus on the Graciela block, located less than one kilometre north of the Almafuerte block. Graciela lies immediately adjacent to established lithium bearing aquifers drilled by other operators in the basin. Favourable geophysics suggest these brine bodies continue onto the Graciela block.
Brine is also interpreted to occur in the Patovica I, Barreal II and southern end of the La Relojera properties, as determined by proximity to known brine bodies and favourable geophysics. TEM lines across these properties indicate the presence of brines at depth, within a well-established lithium bearing basin. Exploration drilling is planned for these properties, more than doubling the drilled area.
Engineering and Metallurgical Program
The main objective of the approved metallurgical program is to optimize Arena's processing technology at SDLP. The process will aim to produce a low volume, concentrated >30% lithium chloride (approximately 6% Li) product that can be transported over great distances cost effectively to produce battery grade lithium carbonate. This process allows a centralized lithium carbonate plant to be constructed off-site at lower altitudes in areas with greater infrastructure and access to skilled labour.
Testing has commenced at laboratory scale and shall proceed to greater and more continuous volumes at a pilot facility to be constructed at SDLP. The pilot facility is fully permitted and will consist of laboratory modules and lined evaporation ponds.
The results will be used to continuously optimize concentration paths culminating in an initial pond design and basic engineering, including inputs for operating cost estimates and capital requirements. These results, along with the resource expansion program, will form the basis of an economic study on SDLP.
A budget of approximately USD 4 million has been approved and will be contributed on an ownership pro-rata basis by Arena and Ganfeng Lithium. The SDLP work program will be operated by Arena as stipulated in the SDLP Joint Venture Agreement (for more details please refer to press release June 10, 2021).
About Arena Minerals Inc.
Arena owns 65% of the Sal de la Puna Project covering approximately 11,000 hectares of the Pastos Grandes basin located in Salta, Argentina. The claims are highly prospective and share the basin with two advanced lithium brine projects. In addition to Sal de la Puna, the Company owns the Antofalla lithium brine project in Argentina, consisting of four claims covering a total of 6,000 hectares of the central portion of Salar de Antofalla, located immediately south of Albemarle Corporation's Antofalla project. Arena has developed a proprietary brine processing technology using brine type reagents derived from the Antofalla project with the objective of producing more competitive battery grade lithium products.
Arena also owns 80 percent of the Atacama Copper property within the Antofagasta region of Chile, and 5.8 million shares of Astra Exploration. The projects are at low altitudes, within producing mining camps in infrastructure-rich areas, located in the heart of Chile's premier copper mining district.
For more information regarding the Company, its management, expertise, and projects, please visit www.arenaminerals.com. An email registration allowing subscribers to directly receive news and updates is also available on the website.
The technical information contained in this news release has been reviewed and approved by William Randall, P.Geo, who is a Qualified Person as defined under NI 43-101. Mr. Randall is a director and is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Arena.
For more information, contact William Randall, President and CEO, at +1-416-818-8711 or Simon Marcotte, Corporate Development, at +1-647-801-7273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of: Arena Minerals Inc.
William Randall, President and CEO
Cautionary Note Regarding Accuracy and Forward-Looking Information
This news release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements, projections and estimates relating to the future development of any of the Company's properties, the anticipating timing with respect to private placement financings, the ability of the Company to complete private placement financings, results of the exploration program, future financial or operating performance of the Company, its subsidiaries and its projects, the development of and the anticipated timing with respect to the Atacama project in Chile, the Antofalla, Hombre Muerto or Pocitos Projects in Argentina , and the Company's ability to obtain financing. Generally, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved". The statements made herein are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors discussed in the management discussion and analysis section of the Company's interim and most recent annual financial statement or other reports and filings with the TSX Venture Exchange and applicable Canadian securities regulations. Estimates underlying the results set out in this news release arise from work conducted by the previous owners and the Company. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: general business, economic, competitive, geopolitical and social uncertainties; the actual results of current exploration activities; other risks of the mining industry and the risks described in the annual information form of the Company. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Arena Minerals does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
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