Pursuit Minerals Progresses at Rio Grande Sur

3 October 2023 10:44

Pursuit Minerals (ASX: PUR) has issued an update on its Rio Grande Sur Project in Salta, Argentina, announcing the initiation of commissioning and startup activities for the Lithium Carbonate Pilot Plant, alongside forthcoming plans to commence the first phase of maiden drilling at the project.

Lithium Pilot Plant

With a significant step towards achieving its initial lithium production in August, the Company acquired a Lithium Carbonate Pilot Plant valued at US$365,000, boasting a notable legacy of historically produced technical (approximately 99.0% purity) and battery-grade (exceeding 99.5% purity) lithium carbonate.

Recently, the plant has been relocated to a new facility, and Pursuit has officially initiated commissioning and reassembly efforts, with the primary aim of producing Lithium Carbonate from Rio Grande Sur brines.


Figure 1: Plant mixing tanks and columns being relocated to the new Pursuit Lithium Facility in Salta, Argentina.

This month, Pursuit is poised to kick off commissioning activities, a crucial step that will pave the way for processing brine from the Rio Grande Sur Project, ultimately targeting the production of both technical and battery-grade Lithium Carbonate.

The engineering aspects of the plant are being expertly handled by Worley, responsible for developing pond simulations for the planned evaporation ponds to be constructed on-site at the salar.

The comprehensive mass balance pond study contemplates the creation of eight ponds to efficiently manage brine inventories, with four positioned both before and after the liming plant.


Figure 2: Evaporation Pond Brine Composition Simulation showing Lithium% at 1.6-1.8% ready for processing after 363 days

The results from the pond simulation have been instrumental in determining that the brine at the Project can commence processing within the plant circuit after 363 days, once it reaches a lithium concentration of 1.6-1.8%.

The brine level feeding the plant will contain material equivalent to 117.85 tonnes per annum of the final processed Lithium Carbonate, with an expected recovery rate of 85%, resulting in a target production of 100.17 tonnes per annum.

To achieve this production level, as revealed during the simulations, Worley has estimated that 52,956 square metres of evaporation ponds will be necessary to provide a continuous supply to the plant.

Pursuit’s plan includes relocating the plant to a site on the salar and expanding to a larger production rate following initial successful production at the Salta facility, with the Salta facility being designed to facilitate an exact replication at the Rio Grande site.

The selection of the Sal Rio 2 tenement for the location of the evaporation ponds and plant is based on its topographical characteristics and superior evaporation rates, with the company planning to commence the construction of the evaporative ponds by the end of the year, pending environmental approvals.


Figure 3: Proposed Pond Location at Rio Grande Sur

Maiden Drill Campaign

The Company is currently in the process of securing the drilling permit approval from the Salta Mining Secretary to initiate Stage 1 Drilling at the Rio Grande Sur Project, with expectations that these permits will be granted in the near future.

Pursuit’s recent completion of TEM Surveys at the Rio Grande Sur Project has successfully identified several target areas for the upcoming maiden drilling campaign, which aims to delineate a JORC resource.

The TEM surveys revealed multiple zones highly prospective for lithium-enriched brines, highlighting layers of interest with low resistivity and high conductivity within the range of 150 metres to 300 metres which suggests a promising path for future exploration and lithium brine expansion.

Additionally, Stage 1 will incorporate the establishment of a pumping well, with its precise location to be determined after the completion of the initial two diamond holes, a move aimed at facilitating the development of a JORC Mineral Resource Estimation.


Figure 4 : Proposed locations of Stage 1 Exploration Drilling

Pursuit Managing Director and CEO Aaron Revelle commented on the Project updates.

“The Rio Grande Sur Project continues to advance toward production at a fast pace. In a short period of time, the Company has completed the groundwork for both a maiden drilling program and commencement of Lithium Carbonate production at the Pilot Plant,” he said.

“We continue to have a continuous and constructive dialogue with the Salta Mining Secretary and relevant provincial officials regarding the approval of the environmental permits to commence our drilling program as soon as possible which is expected in Q4, 2023.”

“In conjunction with our resource appraisal, the Pilot Plant is expected to be processing materials in H1 2024 following the commissioning and circuit adjustments currently being made. The Company is looking forward to completion of these significant milestones that will accelerate Pursuit’s ambitions to move toward being a Lithium Carbonate producer.”

PUR’s Australian Stock Exchange-listed share price is currently trading at $0.009 (10.45am UTC+ 8 hours).

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