The Board of Salt Lake Potash Limited (the Company or SLP) is pleased to present its Quarterly Report for the period ending 31 March 2018.
The Company’s primary focus is to construct a Demonstration Plant at the Goldfields Salt Lakes Project (GSLP), intended to be the first salt-lake brine Sulphate of Potash (SOP) production operation in Australia.
Highlights for the quarter and subsequently include:
MOU with Blackham Resources to access Lake Way
Ø The Company entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Blackham Resources Limited (Blackham) to investigate the potential development of a SOP operation based at Lake Way, near Wiluna.
Surface Sampling Program
Ø A preliminary surface sampling program on Blackham’s tenements confirms the average SOP grade of over 14kg/m3, making Lake Way one of Australia’s highest grade SOP brine sources.
Ø An initial geological and geotechnical investigation by the Company and Knight Piesold confirmed the availability of in-situ clays amendable for on-lake evaporation pond construction. A total of 24 auger holes were excavated across Blackham’s tenements and laboratory tested.
Surface Aquifer Exploration
Ø Review and modelling of the large volume of historical exploration data for Lake Way confirms the likelihood of a large hypersaline brine pool on both Blackham and SLP’s tenements.
Ø The Company is in the process of mobilising a drill rig and an amphibious excavator on the Lake to complete an initial surface aquifer exploration program.
Ø The surface aquifer program will include the construction of test pits and trenches for long-term pump testing.
Ø The Company has commenced a range of process development testwork including process pathway modelling by international experts, a bulk sample evaporation trial and site-based evaporation trial at Lake Way.
First MOU for an Offtake Agreement with Mitsubishi
Ø The Company executed its first MOU for an Offtake Agreement with Mitsubishi, for the sales and offtake rights for up to 50% of the SOP production, from a Demonstration Plant at the GSLP, for distribution into Asia and Oceania and potentially other markets.
Ø The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) completed locked cycle testwork utilising 1T of harvest salts from Lake Wells SET to produce 400kg of flotation concentrate. The flotation concentrate is scheduled for crystalliser design testwork in the USA.
Ø The Site Evaporation Trial (SET) at Lake Wells was decommissioned after completing over 18 months of operation under site conditions and through all seasons. The SET processed approximately 412 tonnes of brine and produced over 10 tonnes of harvest salts.
Ø A surface aquifer exploration program was continued at Lake Irwin, with additional 29 shallow test pits and 2 test trenches. This work provides preliminary data for the geological and hydrological models of the surface aquifer of the Lake, as well as brine, geological and geotechnical samples.
GSLP’s World Class Scale Revealed with an Initial Exploration Target Estimation
The Company released an initial estimate of Exploration Targets for eight of the nine lakes comprising the Company’s GSLP. The ninth lake, Lake Wells, already having a Mineral Resource reported in accordance with the JORC code.
The total “stored” Exploration Target for the GSLP is 290Mt – 458Mt of contained Sulphate of Potash (SOP) with an average SOP grade of 4.4 – 7.1kg/m3 (including Lake Wells’ Mineral Resource of 80-85Mt). On a “drainable” basis the total Exploration Target ranges from 26Mt – 153Mt of SOP. The total playa area of the lakes is approximately 3,312km2.
The potential quantity and grade of this Exploration Target is conceptual in nature. There has been insufficient exploration to estimate a Mineral Resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the estimation of a Mineral Resource.
The Company’s long term plan is to develop an integrated SOP operation, producing from a number (or all) of the lakes within the GSLP, after confirming the technical and commercial elements of the Project through construction and operation of a Demonstration Plant producing up to 50,000tpa of SOP.
The Company’s recent Memorandum of Understanding with Blackham Resources Limited (see ASX Announcement dated 12 March 2018) offers the potential for an expedited path to development at Lake Way, possibly the best site for a 50,000tpa Demonstration Plant in Australia.
The GSLP has a number of very important, favourable characteristics:
Ø Very large paleochannel hosted brine aquifers, with chemistry amenable to evaporation of salts for SOP production, extractable from both low cost trenches and deeper bores;
Ø Over 3,300km2 of playa surface, with in-situ clays suitable for low cost on-lake pond construction;
Ø Excellent evaporation conditions;
Ø Excellent access to transport, energy and other infrastructure in the major Goldfields mining district;
Ø Lowest quartile capex and opex potential based on the Lake Wells Scoping Study;
Ø Clear opportunity to reduce transport costs by developing lakes closer to infrastructure and by capturing economies of scale;
Ø Multi-lake production offers operational flexibility and protection from localised weather events;
Ø The very high level of technical validation already undertaken at Lake Wells substantially applies to the other lakes in the GSLP; and
Ø Potential co-product revenues, particularly where transport costs are lowest.
Salt Lake Potash will progressively explore the lakes in the portfolio with a view to estimating resources for each Lake, in parallel with the development of the Demonstration Plant. Exploration of the lakes will be prioritised based on likely transport costs, scale, permitting pathway and brine chemistry.
Lake Way is located in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, less than 15km south of Wiluna. The surface area of the Lake is over 270km2.
The Wiluna region is an historic mining precinct dating back to the late 19th century. It has been a prolific nickel and gold mining region and therefore has well developed, high quality infrastructure in place.
The Goldfields Highway is a high quality sealed road permitted to carry quad road trains and passes 2km from the Lake. The Goldfields Gas Pipeline is adjacent to SLP’s tenements, running past the eastern side of the Lake.
SLP has entered an MOU with Blackham to investigate the development of an SOP operation on Blackham’s existing Mining Leases at Lake Way, including initially a 50,000tpa Demonstration Plant (see announcement dated 12 March 2018).
Lake Way has some compelling advantages which make it potentially an ideal site for an SOP operation, including:
Ø Substantial likely capital and operating savings from sharing overheads and infrastructure with the Wiluna Gold Mine, including the accommodation camp, flights, power, maintenance, infrastructure and other costs.
Ø The site has an excellent freight solution, adjacent to the Goldfields Highway, which is permitted for heavy haulage 4 trailer road trains to the railhead at Leonora.
Ø A Demonstration Plant would likely be built on Blackham’s existing Mining Licences, already subject of a Native Title Agreement.
Ø SLP would dewater the existing Williamson Pit on Lake Way, prior to Blackham mining, planned for early 2019. The pit contains an estimated 1.2GL of brine at the exceptional grade of 25kg/m3 of SOP. This brine is potentially the ideal starter feed for evaporation ponds, having already evaporated from the normal Lake Way brine grade, which averages over 14kg/m3.
Ø The high grade brines at Lake Way will result in lower capital and operating costs due to lower extraction and evaporation requirements.
Ø There would be substantial savings to both parties from co-operating on exploration activities on each other’s ground.
Ø The presence of clays in the upper levels of the lake which should be amenable to low cost, on-lake evaporation pond construction.
SLP will complete a Scoping Study for a potential SOP operation at Lake Way, including a Demonstration Plant, by mid-2018, in time to allow a decision on dewatering the Williamson Pit. There is substantial historical data available for Lake Way and, along with the extensive, high quality technical work undertaken at SLP’s other lakes, which has substantial application at Lake Way, a Scoping Study can be undertaken in a much shorter timeframe than would normally be the case.
Surface Sampling Program
The Company has now completed initial surface sampling program at Lake Way, substantially covering the Lake surface. A total of 23 pit samples have been collected encountering brine at a standing water level generally less than 1 metre from surface.
The average brine chemistry of the samples was:
The brine chemistry at Lake Way is very consistent over the lake surface. The SOP grades are amongst the highest achieved in Australia to date.
To gain an understanding of ground conditions for trenching and pond construction, a preliminary geotechnical investigation program was undertaken within the Blackham Mining Tenements, in conjunction with leading international geotechnical consultants, Knight Piesold.
A total of 24 hand auger boreholes were drilled to depths of up to 3.2 metres, and the encountered soils were logged and sampled.
Lake Way ground conditions consists of a thin surface layer of evaporite sands, overlying sandy and silty clays. Firm clays were encountered at 1m to 2m depth, generally increasing in strength with depth, becoming hard from 2m to 3m. Shallow groundwater was encountered on average 0.2m below the lake surface.
A testing program was undertaken at a NATA accredited geotechnical laboratory, using specific test methods appropriate for saline conditions, to characterise soils and assess preliminary soil parameters. Summary test results are presented below.
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