The Sal Rica project covers an area of approximately 13,260 acres (5,366 hectares). The Company acquired a group of placer mining claims covering approximately 9,900 acres (3,960 hectares) from Mesa Exploration Corporation, and subsequently staked a further 3,360 acres (1,360 hectares) of mining claims that adjoin parts of the property position acquired from Mesa. In total, the Company controls 663 placer claims in the target area.
The claims acquired from Mesa Exploration are subject to a 2 percent “Net Smelter Royalty” on any production derived from those claims. There are no production royalty obligations attached to the claims that Westwater Resources staked.
The Company has applied for water rights in the project area, and our applications are pending a formal decision by the Utah Department of Water Rights.
The Sal Rica project area was first explored for brine-hosted mineral deposits by Quintana Petroleum in the mid-1960s, when they undertook a shallow drilling program in search of potash-enriched brines. As part of their exploration effort, Quintana assayed the samples from their drill holes for a range of elements, including lithium. The data from this initial exploration effort defined significant lithium levels (up to 81 parts per million) in brines that are associated with near-surface aquifers.
Mesa Exploration undertook a follow-up sampling program in the same area in 2016, and the analytical results from their wide-spaced drilling (1 to 2-mile drill hole spacing) average 66 parts per million lithium (ppm), with a high value of 80 ppm, substantially confirming the previous results obtained by Quintana.
Westwater Resources identified the Sal Rica project area through literature reviews of historical geological and geochemical data from the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as other public and private information sources, followed by field reconnaissance of the target area.
Pilot Valley, the site of the Sal Rica Project, is a closed drainage basin covering an area of approximately 130 square miles (337 square kilometers). The geology of the project is dominated by lake and evaporate sediments that have been sources of potash and salt in other parts of the Great Salt Lake region.
Regional geophysical studies by the University of Utah, carried out between 1957 and 1961, indicated that basin-fill sediments in the project area, which are potential host rocks for lithium-enriched brines, may extend from the surface to depths of up to 5,300 feet (1,615 meters).
Sampling of shallow brines by Quintana Petroleum and Mesa Exploration Corporation demonstrated the widespread presence of lithium at depths of less than 50 feet (approximately 15 meters). Future exploration at the Sal Rica Project will focus on characterizing the remaining 5,000-plus feet thick basin sequence for higher quality lithium brines capable of supporting an economic resource and more fully defining the magnitude and grade of the near-surface deposit.
Initial reconnaissance-scale sediment sampling by Westwater personnel yielded lithium values ranging from 82 to 213 ppm lithium. A shallow brine in-fill sampling program was carried out by the Company, and assays ranged from 10 to 100 parts per million lithium, and averaged 67.5 ppm lithium, further confirming the previous sampling results of both Quintana and Mesa. The analytical work on Westwater’s samples was undertaken by ALS Minerals, an internationally-recognized analytical laboratory.
The Company has acquired gravity geophysical data for the Pilot Valley area and the data was analyzed by a geophysicist who developed a geophysical model of the subsurface geology of the project area.
Analysis of all available geological, geophysical and geochemical data is in progress in order to design a drilling program for this project.