Liberty Lithium, a new and promising lithium brine project in the United States, has garnered attention from end users due to the ever-increasing demand for large-scale raw material projects in the battery supply chain. The project, located in Inyo County, California, is set to become one of the largest lithium brine projects in the western US.
QX Resources Limited (ASX: QXR) has secured a deal with IG Lithium LLC, a private US company, to acquire a 75% stake in the Liberty Lithium project. Spanning over 10,000 hectares, the project covers a significant surface lithium brine anomaly within the enclosed basin. To put its size into perspective, it is equivalent to two times the area of Sydney Harbour or the size of Paris city.
Preliminary exploration has yielded encouraging results, with surface brine samples from auger holes returning elevated lithium assays ranging from 125mg/L to 215mg/L in the center of a 10km anomaly. Geophysical surveys have also indicated the presence of a basin more than 25km long and 1,000m deep, potentially containing brine-bearing aquifers at depth.
The location of Liberty Lithium in the western US makes it an ideal site for lithium brine exploration and development. The region shares many characteristics with the famous lithium brine basins in Chile and Argentina. It benefits from improved infrastructure, including sealed roads and access to power, enabling quicker and more cost-effective production compared to other locations. Additionally, Liberty Lithium has the advantage of being able to utilize saline water, which is typically restricted or prohibited in many areas.
The project has also caught the attention of the Biden Administration, which has shown support for the battery materials supply chain and domestic battery production. The Inflation Reduction Act of August 2022 has provided tax breaks for the green energy industry, particularly in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries. This government support further enhances the potential of Liberty Lithium and other mining companies involved in critical mineral production for the energy transition.
Local regulators and administrators in California, including Governor Gavin Newsom, have expressed interest in supporting projects similar to Liberty Lithium. The county in which the project is located, Inyo County, is the largest and least populated county in California and has a history of supporting evaporative salt operations.
QX Resources, the company leading the Liberty Lithium project, is focused on the exploration and development of battery minerals in highly sought-after jurisdictions. With an experienced team and a track record of connecting end users with battery mineral developers, QX Resources is well-positioned to make Liberty Lithium a success.
Drilling of the target area is scheduled for the last quarter of 2023, followed by testing of lithium brines using various Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) methods. If the results are encouraging, an accelerated drilling program is planned for 2024, leading to the determination of an initial resource and later a pre-feasibility study.
Steve Promnitz, Managing Director of QX Resources, expressed confidence in the Liberty Lithium project and its potential for development. He highlighted the growing interest from end users to invest directly in projects like Liberty Lithium, making it an attractive opportunity. With a large-scale resource and a pathway to development, Liberty Lithium has the potential to become a significant player in the battery materials supply chain.
In conclusion, Liberty Lithium represents a promising large-scale lithium brine project in the western US. Its strategic location, government support, and the expertise of QX Resources make it an exciting prospect for the future of the battery supply chain. The upcoming drilling program will provide valuable insights into the project’s potential, and by this time next year, we will have a clearer picture of its prospects.