NI 43-101 Inferred Resource Estimate for the Sal de Vida Project
M&A evaluates one of the world’s largest, highest-grade, undeveloped lithium-potash brine resources.
- Client: Galaxy Lithium
- Time frame: 2010–present
- Location: Catamarca and Salta Provinces, Argentina
The Sal de Vida deposit, located in the Salar del Hombre Muerto in northwest Argentina, is a lithium-potash brine resource. The brines have been concentrated by evaporation, resulting in highly anomalous — and potentially commercial — quantities of lithium and potassium. M&A provided a variety of hydrogeologic services for this project in accordance with Canada’s National Instrument (NI) 43-101 and Australia JORC guidelines. Principal Mike Rosko served as the Qualified Person for field investigations.
Our work entailed designing and implementing field investigations to support the development of an inferred resource estimate for the brines; this estimate was later upgraded to measured and indicated. We based the estimate on the drainable porosity of the host aquifer, the concentrations of lithium and potassium, and measurements of aquifer parameters at pumping wells.
We also developed a JORC- compliant reserve estimate using the geologic block model prepared from field data and a density-coupled groundwater flow model to predict brine grades over a 40-year project life.
Designed and implemented a diamond-drilling program for 23 core holes ranging from 95 to 284 meters in depth
Collected 309 core samples for laboratory measurement of drainable porosity
Designed sampling equipment and collected 352 depth-specific brine samples for geochemical analysis
Developed vertical profiles of brine temperature and electrical conductivity for 17 cased diamond drill holes
Conducted low-flow sampling of brine from monitoring wells
Installed 13 brine test wells suitable for pumping (6- and 8-inch diameter)
Conducted 12 short-term pumping tests to measure aquifer transmissivity and collect composite brine samples
Conducted two 30-day pumping tests to evaluate the long-term drawdown response and brine chemistry series
- Developed a conceptual geologic model for the salar basin based on the results of exploration drilling and hydraulic testing
Collected baseline streamflow data to develop a basin-wide water budget
Developed the inferred resource estimate using three different methods
Prepared a comprehensive report that met the rigorous requirements of NI 43-101
Prepared recommendations for upgrading the resource to indicated and measured status under NI 43-101
- Developed a three-dimensional geospatial model using LEAPFROG HYDRO to provide a basis for designing the layers and flow domain in the nu-merical model
- Developed a model using MODFLOW-SURFACT, a finite-difference code with transport and density modules, to simulate density-dependent flow and transport within the brine aquifer
- Used the numerical model to project TDS concen-trations and evaluate the feasibility of production-level pumping from two planned wellfields in the Salar del Hombre Muerto basin
- Evaluated pumping over a 40-year period, refining the wellfield layouts to maximize lithium produc-tion and minimize drawdown.
We developed a JORC-compliant proven and probable reserve estimate of 1.1 million tonnes lithium carbonate and 4.2 million tonnes potassium chloride equivalent over a 40-year project life.