Arena Minerals Inc. [AN-TSXV] shares rallied in active trading Friday after the company said it had commenced drilling on the Sal de la Puna Project (SDLP) in Argentina.
The shares jumped 9.1% or $0.045 to 54 cents on volume of one million and trade in a 52-week range of 55 cents and $0.02.
The SDLP project covers 11,000 hectares of the Pastos Grandes basin in Salta, Argentina. The claims are highly prospective and share the basin with two advanced lithium brine projects. In addition to SDLP, Arena also owns the Antofalla lithium brine project in Argentina. It consists of four claims covering 6,000 hectares of the central portion of the Salar de Antofalla, located immediately south of Albemarle Corp.’s [ALB-NYSE] Antofalla project.
Arena is operating the drill program on behalf of Sal de la Puna Holdings Ltd., which is owned jointly by Arena (65%) and Ganfeng New Energy Technology Development Co. Ltd. (Ganfeng Lithium) [GNENF-OTCQX, 1772-HK] (35%). The budget for the program is approximately US$4 million and will be funded on a pro-rata basis by Arena and Ganfeng.
The drill program is focused on the AlmaFuerte and Graciela blocks, which border Millennial Lithium Corp.’s [ML-TSXV] Pastos Grandes project to the south and southeast. The program consists of 3,000 metres. The objective is the increase the category of the current resource and increase the SDLP project’s resource base.
In an October 28, 2021, press release, the company said the work program is the backbone of a plan to fast-track the SDLP project to a production decision. It said the program will help to 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,” said Arena Executive Chairman Eduardo Morales.
“Thanks to the sizeable backing from our partner Ganfeng Lithium and strategic investor Lithium Americas Corp.’s [LAC-TSX, LAC-NYSE], we are fully funded for the approved work program at SDLP,’’ he said.
Arena has said the Almafuerte block contains and inferred resource of 230,000 million cubic metres of brine at an average grade of 460 mg/l, for a total of 106,000 tonnes of lithium metal. That estimate equates to a contained 560,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent.
The estimated resource extends down to a depth of 500 metres below surface and remains open at depth and on strike north towards the Graciela block and other properties owned by the company.
Brines (in salt ponds) and spodumene (hard rock) represent the two main sources of commercial lithium production.
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.