The Railroad Valley project property position is comprised of 472 unpatented placer claims covering an area of approximately 9,440 acres (3,820 hectares). These mining claims were staked by the Company and are not subject to any underlying agreements and they do not have any production royalty obligations. The Company has applied for water rights in the project area, and these applications are pending approval by the Nevada Division of Water Resources.
Westwater Resources’ staff identified the Railroad Valley as a potential target area for lithium-enriched brines in 2016, through the evaluation of publicly available geological, geochemical and geophysical data. Geological and geochemical field programs were carried out by the Company in 2016 and 2017, and these investigations highlighted the mineral resource potential of the target area. Of the more that 45 sediment samples that were collected during these investigations, promising concentrations of lithium were encountered in several areas, with assay values up to 366 parts per million (ppm) lithium identified. Based upon the results from the reconnaissance-scale geochemical sampling, coupled with our geologic and hydrological analysis of the basin, the Company identified a highly prospective target area on the western side of the basin, and staked mining claims to secure the target zone.
The Railroad Valley is a very large “closed” drainage basin that covers an area of approximately 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers), with a geologic setting that is dominated by lake and basin-fil sediments that overly several petroleum reservoirs (oil fields). The Railroad Valley is bounded on its western side by a complex of Tertiary age mafic to felsic volcanic rocks of the Pancake Range and on its eastern side by Paleozoic age sedimentary rocks of the Grant Range.
A convergence of several geological factors favorable for lithium brine formation has taken place in the Railroad Valley project area, including a deep, hydrologically closed basin covered by an evaporative playa, and adjacent Tertiary age felsic volcanic rocks of the Pancake Range that may be a source of lithium in the system. Oil exploration wells drilled at various locations within the basin, some of which are in the Company’s land position, have penetrated significant thicknesses of evaporitic and ash-fall (volcanic) sediments, and many of these holes have demonstrated the existence of a large geothermal anomaly underlying that part of the basin that Westwater’s claims occupy. The geothermal anomaly is further evidenced by numerous hot springs on the west side of the basin, and adjacent to the project area, indicative of convective cycling within the local saline groundwater system. The numerous identifiable mechanisms for the potential concentration of lithium brines within the basin are highly promising, and create a compelling exploration target worthy of further investigation.
Initial reconnaissance-scale geochemical sampling has been completed by Company personnel, and the results derived from this effort highlighted a target on the west side of the basin. Assay values derived from this initial sampling program ranged as high as 366 ppm lithium, as determined by analytical analysis carried out by ALS Minerals, an internationally-recognized minerals laboratory.