Arena Minerals Inc. ("Arena" or the "Company") is pleased to announce it has completed the first exploratory drill hole (R-01) on the Fortuna II claim block, which forms part of the Sal de la Puna Project (“SDLP Project”) located in the Pastos Grandes basin within Salta province, Argentina. The rotary exploratory hole is the first to test the eastern sub-basin of Pastos Grandes and intersected a continuous brine column from 240 metres to 515 metres downhole. This 275-metre brine column averaged 441 milligrams per litre (“mg/l”) lithium (“Li”).
The discovered aquifer is dominated by medium to fine sands with minor halite, bound by upper and lower clay horizons that could act as confining layers if proven continuous. This discovery suggests Pastos Grandes high quality brine continues to the eastern sub-basin and may be hydraulically connected. The brine maintains its favourable high-quality geochemistry with an average magnesium to lithium ration of 5.6 and sulphate to lithium ration of 11.2; both comparable to the Pastos Grandes main basin brines.
William Randall, President & CEO of Arena, stated, “This discovery, on the first exploration drill hole completed by Arena, opens a whole new portion of the basin for resource growth, and greatly exceeds our expectations. The quality of the aquifer and discovered brine suggests that this eastern sub-basin could be productive and potentially expand the size of our business model in the future.” He added, “The exploration drill rig has moved on to test other claims in the basin, where we hope to further expand the brine bearing aquifers on our land holdings.”
A map showing exact locations of drilling completed by Arena to date can be found below.
R-01 was completed as an observation well with 2-inch diameter blank and screened PVC casing to 450 m depth. Depth specific brine sampling was caried out in R-01 over the entire brine column using double packer sampling systems. The top of the hole intersected fresh to brackish water down to approximately 70 m. The fresh/brackish water column is separated from the brine column by low permeability clay layers.
Drill Program Update
Resource definition drilling has been completed on the main Almafuerte and Graciela claim blocks of the SDLP Project. DDD-01 at Graciela reached a total depth of 700 m. Brine was encountered at 120 m downhole and continued down to drill depths. The hole encountered dominantly clay rich lithologies. The upper portion of the brine column has been sampled using HydraSleeves. Samples are pending laboratory analysis.
A third rotary drill is drilling a new production well at the Alamafuerte claim block. The well (PW-1) is being drilled at 15-inch diameter down to 500 m depth and will be completed with 8- and 10-inch diameter production casing between 350 m to 500 m in the lower brine gravel aquifer encountered in diamond drill hole DDD-02. This lower gravel aquifer averaged 503 mg/l Li with grades as high as 557 mg/l Li (for further details refer to press release dated April 11, 2022). A 30-day pumping test in PW-1 is scheduled for November 2022 during which water level responses will be monitored in adjacent observation wells.
Two rotary drills are operating on the exploration claim blocks. Drill hole R-01 has been completed on the Fortuna claim block, located in the eastern sub-basin of the Pastos Grandes basin, as described above.
Two additional exploration holes are being drilled at Barreal II and Patovica I claim blocks. R-02 has been drilled to a total depth of 80 m below surface at Patovica I with a target depth of >400 m. R-03 has been drilled to a final depth of 617 m below surface on Barreal II. Detailed logs and sampling of both these holes are pending.
Arena is operating the drill program on behalf of Sal de la Puna Holdings Ltd., which is jointly owned by Arena (65%) and Ganfeng New Energy Technology Development (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. (“Ganfeng Lithium”; 1772.HK; OTCQX: GNENF) (35%).
The drill program initially focused on the Almafuerte and Graciela blocks which border Lithium America’s Pastos Grandes project to the south and south-east and consists of 3,000 m with the objective of both increasing the category of the current resource and increasing the SDLP Project’s resource base. Exploration holes are designed to test previously undrilled portions of the Pastos Grandes basin with the objective of expanding the resource beyond the known aquifers in the Almafuerte and Graciela claims blocks.
The drill program is jointly designed and supervised by the Company and Atacama Water consultants. All brine samples are sent to SGS Laboratories, Salta, Argentina, an independent and fully international accredited laboratory for analysis for lithium multi-element Induction Coupled Plasma Spectroscopy. Arena has a regimented Quality Assurance, Quality Control program where at least 10% duplicates, blanks and standards are inserted into each sample shipment.
Stock Option Grant
The Company further announces that it has granted 1,000,000 incentive stock options to Directors, Officers, and Employees of the Company. The option to purchase common shares in the capital of the Company, at a price of $0.50 per common share with an expiry date of December 30, 2025. The stock options vest immediately and have been granted under the terms of the Company’s stock option plan. The closing price of the Company’s common shares on August 15, 2022, the date of the grant of the stock options, was $0.495 per common share.