- Marifil exploring for gold, lithium and cobalt in metals-rich South American zone
- Argentina aims to capture as much as 45 percent of lithium market; investments in country’s lithium resource have grown tenfold since 2011
- Marifil’s recent drilling at San Roque property yields good results, with a 19-meter intersection of 1.89 grams per tonne gold
As a metal exploration boom elevates the prospects of Argentina’s mining industry, Canada-based Marifil Mines Ltd. (TSX.V: MFM) (OTCQB: MFMLF) continues to examine the prospects of its properties through drilling and sampling techniques. The company is focused on exploring for gold, lithium and cobalt because of their significant commercial potential, and on September 11, it published the results of its most recent round of exploration drilling on its San Roque property within the Province of Rio Negro, near the Atlantic coast, that significantly add to the advancement of the property (http://ibn.fm/fLouD).
The San Roque property is held by Minas San Roque S.A., which is jointly owned by Marifil Mines (51 percent) and NovaGold Resources Inc. (TSX: NG) subsidiary NovaGold Argentina Inc. (49 percent). Marifil is the project operator. It is an advanced-stage exploration project that encompasses some 42,320 hectares (104,575 acres) of mineral rights wherein significant gold-silver-indium-lead-zinc epithermal sulphide mineralization (http://ibn.fm/tYjHS) has now been drilled by 112 holes.
Results from the latest four drill holes are highlighted by a 19.8 meter intersection of 1.86 g/t Au near the surface, adding substantially to the extent of a gold mineralized area known as Zone 34. The company believes that Zone 34 holds potential for discovery of a heap leachable gold deposit similar to those found in Nevada. In another hole more than a kilometer away on Zone 33, a drill hole hit a composited intersection of 83 meters at 0.50 g/t Au, which also contains significant lead and zinc sulfide mineralization.
An NI 43-101 resource report has not been completed on the San Roque site, but, in the company’s judgment, there exists large volumes of mineralized earth within six distinct zones scattered across four square kilometers of its land holdings. All of these zones are open to expansion by further drilling.
Although the gold mining sector has seen little interest from investors this year because of a lackluster price for the precious metal and a dearth of new mining projects, recent M&A activity has increased market optimism (http://ibn.fm/u93j7), and Marifil has been undaunted about its exploration, noting in its news release that it has arranged a round of private placement financing for gross proceeds of $1 million, subject to regulatory approval.
Marifil’s Las Aguilas property in central Argentina is currently the country’s largest known nickel and cobalt-producing site, and the company’s 15,267-plus hectares (37,726 acres) of Puna grasslands are located within the famed ‘Lithium Triangle’, where that metal has been found in abundance to form a zone crossing national boundaries between Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
Lithium, cobalt and nickel have become particularly attractive to junior miners in recent years because of their vital importance in the low-heat, high-efficiency lithium-ion batteries that power most of the world’s computer technology. The worldwide growth of interest in environmentally friendly electric vehicles has drawn attention to the limited supplies of cobalt and lithium, in particular, as automakers and national governments have raced to ensure a secure pipeline for their concerns.
Argentina expects to become a lithium superpower by increasing its share of the world’s supply from about 16 percent of the market now to as much as 45 percent by extracting the metal from brines in the Puna, described as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” (http://ibn.fm/JLnzd).
Mining Secretary Mariano Lamothe told Chile’s Strategic Excellence in Mining conference last month that Argentina could be producing 290,000 metric tons per year of lithium by 2023 (http://ibn.fm/FDCY0). Until Argentina’s government switched from a mining-averse stance to economic development friendliness two years ago, only one company was producing lithium on a commercial scale from Argentina’s brine deposits. Since then, lithium production has increased by nearly 60 percent (http://ibn.fm/qfqcm).
Lamothe told the conference that Argentina is pushing Chile and Bolivia to organize a price index for lithium in order to stabilize market volatility, advancing the possibility that the price could be based on the metal’s carbonate quality, hydroxides, or other technical specifications, according to local media (http://ibn.fm/b0xxK). According to Lamothe, a metric ton of lithium currently can go for anywhere between $14,000 and $25,000, depending on the producer.
According to Lamothe, investment in the country’s lithium mining potential has grown to 10 times its level in 2011, evidence of booming interest and the country’s potential.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.MarifilMines.com
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