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ZACATECAS LITHIUM PROJECT – MEXICO (Zenith 90%, JV partner funding)

·         New tenure (26,000 acres) over extensive system of salt lakes within emerging lithium brine district in central Mexico;

·         Lithium brines to 2.1% lithium reported in regional sampling program conducted by the Mexican Federal Government from solar evaporation ponds for salt production on adjacent salt lake (10km west of Zenith’s new tenure). 

·         Results confirm lithium enriched source brines are present in the district, as well as demonstrating that concentration of lithium by traditional solar evaporation methods is possible: Four water samples returned 1.2%, 1.4%, 1.4% and 2.1% lithium, these very high-grade lithium brines are similar to post-concentration brine feedstock to lithium brine production facilities;

·         Initial, limited reconnaissance sampling by Zenith on salt pans covering the Company’s new Zacatecas tenure returned highly anomalous lithium in surface sediments up to 524ppm - comparable to and higher than those from competitor lithium brine projects in Mexico and the USA; and

·         Geophysical surveying and infill surface sampling in progress, to precede planned drill testing.



Zenith has staked concessions over salt lake brine targets in the Zacatecas area of central Mexico. Three areas; San Juan, San Vincente and Illescas (covering a total of 26,440 acres) have been applied for with Zenith to hold 100% interest through a Mexican subsidiary.  Lithium brines to 2.1% lithium have been taken from small scale, salt production solar evaporation ponds on an adjacent salt lake located 10km west of Zenith’s new tenure.  The samples were taken as part of a water and surface sediment sampling program conducted by the Mexican Federal Government - Mineral Resource Council. These results confirm lithium enriched source brines are present in the Zacatecas district, as well as demonstrating that concentration of lithium by traditional solar evaporation methods is possible.

Initial reconnaissance sampling by Zenith returned up to 524ppm lithium in surface sediments on the San Juan salt lake concession and up to 206ppm lithium at Illescas. These results are comparable to and higher than those from many competitor lithium brine exploration projects in the USA and Mexico (Figures 1 - 3).  Local community members have advised Zenith’s field team that hot springs were present up until recently on its Illescas concession whilst siliceous sinters (rocks indicative of ancient hot spring out-flow zones) have been recognised in field mapping on the San Juan concession.

The conceptual deposit model for Zenith’s new Zacatecas lithium brine project is adapted from the known deposits being exploited by other companies in the USA, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.  Water-bearing formations or aquifer types range from deep volcano-sedimentary units within the valley-fill sequence that are saturated in lithium-enriched brine such as at Albemarle’s Clayton Valley operation in Nevada USA to near-surface salt lakes and ponds in the south American lithium operations.  Amongst other important geological and hydrological criteria these lithium districts generally contain active hot springs or there is evidence of past geothermal activity such as the presence of sinters (silica rich deposits that occur at hot spring out-flow zones).  Existing lithium brine operations have lithium resource grades ranging from 102 milligrams per litre (mg/l) to 1409 mg/l this is roughly equivalent to 80 to 1100ppm lithium.   In most cases the lithium brine is pumped into surface ponds and the lithium is concentrated to percent levels by solar evaporation before final treatment in a processing plant to produce lithium carbonate or similar products commonly used by battery manufacturers.    
The Zacactecas lithium brine project within the closed El Barril aquifer, with its thick sequence of Tertiary, Cretaceous, and Quaternary age clastic sediments, ash beds and evaporite deposits is prospective for lithium brines.  In addition, low average annual rainfall and very high average annual evaporation rates means that traditional methods of solar evaporation of brines are a viable production method.  This is also evidenced in the many artisanal table salt production facilities that exploit the brines on several of the salt lakes within this district.
Next Steps
The Zacatecas lithium brine project requires a groundwater exploration program designed to discover a reservoir of brine within the sedimentary host basin with economically viable concentrations of lithium.  If warranted by brine presence and lithium concentration levels, additional more detailed studies will be necessary to determine the hydrogeological characteristics of the aquifer units for lithium production.
Ground based geophysical surveying is planned to commence mid-January followed by drilling. Physical examination of the drill cuttings and laboratory analysis of water and sediments is the most cost effective way to determine the presence or absence of economic lithium deposits beneath the property. An initial drilling program of two to four holes will be designed to test specific structural and stratigraphic targets identified by the geophysical surveys. Given success with these preliminary exploratory drill holes in finding brine aquifers and anomalous lithium contents, additional holes would be placed to expand on the information relating to basin hydrogeology, leading to resource estimation.