Lithium developer Wealth Minerals (TSXV: WML) reached a significant milestone on Tuesday with the release of the first resource estimate for its Ollagüe project in Chile.
This NI 43-101 resource estimate — prepared by independent consultants Montgomery & Associates — is based on the company’s geophysical survey and 2022 drill program, consisting of four vertical holes totalling 1,111 metres. It also includes drilling and geophysical data from previous operators on the Ollagüe project.
The initial resource, as estimated by Montgomery, contains 741,000 tonnes of LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent) grading 175 ml/L in the indicated category and 701,000 tonnes LCE grading 185 ml/L in the inferred category.
These estimates will likely change as more information becomes available, according to Wealth Minerals. The 2022 program has substantially increased the company’s understanding of the “evaporitic basins” that define the project area, which has allowed the estimation of this initial lithium resource, it says.
Wealth Minerals anticipates that additional drilling may encounter lithium brine in the deeper parts of the aquifer, potentially adding to the overall resource. Additional characterization in the northmost concessions of the project could also add additional resources in the measured and indicated category.
The company will now begin the next phase of development planning, engaging with its engineering partner FLSmidth to prepare a scoping study. Meanwhile, the geological team is planning how to best expand the resource and raise the category of the resource in the next drilling campaign.
“The Ollagüe project is well suited for lithium production because of its favorable permeability, resource size and expansion potential. Indeed, in terms of LCE resource size, the Ollagüe project now ranks among its peers in terms of a potential future operation,” CEO Henk van Alphen said in a news release.
The Ollagüe property consists of 6,400 hectares located in northern Chile, Region II, near the Chile-Bolivia border and approximately 200 km due north from Atacama. Recent drilling activity by a peer company in the area returned lithium grades up to 480 mg/L, while surface sampling has returned lithium grades as high as 1,140 mg/L.
Shares of Wealth Minerals were down 10% as of noon ET following the initial Ollagüe resource estimate. The company has a market capitalization of C$121.9 million ($91m).