West Cobar Metals to commence drilling in Nevada’s ‘Silicon Valley’ for lithium

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By Colin Hay - 
West Cobar Metals ASX WC1 lithium claystone Tonopah Nevada drilling

West Cobar Metals (ASX: WC1) is preparing to commence a new drilling campaign in Nevada – which has been labelled as the “silicon valley” for lithium production in the USA.

The company has obtained all the necessary approvals and signed a contract to commence drilling in late September to further assess the lithium claystone prospectivity in its project area near Tonopah.

The company recently completed reconnaissance fieldwork in its licence area which confirmed the claims’ prospectivity, as the host Siebert Formation claystones were found to extend beneath thin alluvium cover.

It is now planning to test the potential of its Montezuma Well and Smoky Valley mining claim areas with wide-spaced RC drilling.

High quality location

West Cobar managing director Matt Szwedzicki said the company’s 242 Montezuma Well and Big Smoky Valley claims areas are located within a district of known large-scale sedimentary-hosted lithium claystone deposits and are just 350km southeast of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada.

“Reconnaissance field work has confirmed the prospectivity of our lithium properties in the world class Nevada lithium district.”

“Having now received BLM approval and having signed up a suitable drill contractor, we look forward to undertaking the RC drill program which will effectively test the Montezuma Well and Big Smoky Valley mining claim areas for lithium mineralisation.”

Montezuma Well and Big Smoky Valley prospectivity

At Montezuma Well, West Cobar’s geological mapping suggests that thick sequences of the prospective Siebert formation mudstones and tuffs dip shallowly into the company’s tenement area and are covered by thin alluvial and colluvial sediments.

Some rock chip samples were taken of the claystones exposed in the gully and despite strong weathering and leaching, anomalous lithium values were obtained.

The Montezuma Well project is located just 1,100 metres west of American Lithium Corporation’s TLC deposit and 2.5km north of American Battery Technology’s promising Tonopah Flats discovery.

A recent drill hole approximately 1km south of the Montezuma Well tenement area intersected 35m of 463 parts per million lithium from 107m.

The Big Smoky Valley project is located 30km south-west of the TLC deposit, 30km north-east of Ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge deposit and 20km north of Silver Peak.

US lithium demand on the rise

Demand for lithium batteries in the US is expected to grow more than six times and translate into $85 billion per year by the end of the decade, but still the country is expected to depend on imports for supply.

While the US is estimated to contain significant lithium reserves, particularly in Nevada, it is currently only a minor producer and a significant importer.

Nevada is currently home to the only lithium mine in the United States – the Silver Peak mine – which is operated by company Albemarle Corp. and began operating in the 1960s.

According to the US Geological Service (USGS) lithium was also commercially produced from the brine-sourced waste tailings of a Utah- based magnesium producer. Two companies produced a wide range of downstream lithium compounds in the United States from domestic or imported lithium carbonate, lithium chloride, and lithium hydroxide.

Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in North America.

The US Department of Energy selected 12 lithium-based projects funded with $2.5 billion from the 2022 US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support new commercial-scale domestic facilities to extract and process lithium, manufacture battery components, recycle batteries, and develop new technologies to increase US lithium reserves.