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Noram Ventures Inc. (TSXV:NRM) (OTCBB:NRVTF:US) is focused on building an international industrial minerals company and becoming a low cost supplier of lithium and graphite materials into North American, European and Asian markets. The company’s three key properties are the Clayton Valley lithium clay/brine project in Nevada’s lithium hub, the recently acquired Arizaro East lithium project in Argentina and the Jumbo flake graphite project in British Columbia.
Noram believes that having both lithium and graphite properties affords a considerable advantage in the lithium-ion battery sector as both materials are essential for the green revolution and the rising global demand for electric vehicles. Despite the name, upwards of ten times more graphite than lithium is used in lithium-ion batteries.
By 2020, Tesla Motors’ Nevada based “Gigafactory” is expected to produce more lithium-ion batteries annually than produced worldwide in 2013. The plant is located 200 kilometers from Noram’s Clayton Valley Lithium property.
Noram has completed bench testing a new nanofiltration process designed to extract lithium carbonate directly from claystone with minimal water use—a key feature for projects in the State of Nevada where water usage is a contentious issue. The proprietary patented process is based on membrane technology already in use for resource extraction in the mining and oil & gas industries and offers an environmentally-friendly, low-cost alternative to conventional lithium extraction methods. MDS reported a Li concentration in the supernatant solution, generated with the optimized leach procedure, of 150 ppm which is equivalent to 80% of the initial Li reporting to the leach solution. A second leach step was performed on a subsample of the leached solids by combining 100 g of the moist leached solids (6.5% liquid content) with 200 mL of water and 10 mL of H2SO4. The second leach step resulted in a Li concentration in the leached solids of 36 ppm or an equivalent 81% Li recovery. Although the second leach step was not tested on the full-size sample, the results from the second leach can be used to estimate a total Li recovery after first and second leach steps of 96.25%. In addition to improving Li recovery, MDS reported that a second acid treatment step enhanced solid-liquid separation and filtering after leach.
- Lithium property adjacent to Albemarle’s Silver Peak mine, the only lithium producing mine in North America.
- Recently acquired lithium property on third largest salt lake in the world in Salta, Argentina
- Phase I exploration completed in Clayton Valley with highest lithium values on project to date.
- Recently published N.I. 43-101 stated an inferred mineral resource of approximately 17 million metric tonnes at a grade of about 1,060ppm Li, which equates to 96,476 Lithium Carbonate Equivalent.
- Metallurgical testing of sample material from Jumbo graphite property shows 45 percent large flake category, battery grade.
- Noram developing environmentally-friendly, low-cost processing methods for both lithium and graphite.
- Holding both lithium and graphite properties places Noram at a considerable advantage in the lithium-ion battery sector.
- Noram’s team of experts have an unparalleled track record of success and experience.
Key Lithium Properties
Clayton Valley Lithium Project
The Clayton Valley lithium brine/clay project covers 12,920 acres, making Noram Ventures one of the largest lithium direct holders of lithium claims in Nevada’s lithium-rich Clayton Valley. The project is also located within 2 kilometers of Albermarle’s Silver Peak mine and is adjacent to the lithium exploration projects of both Pure Energy Minerals and Lithium X Energy. It has the potential to contain lithium within claystones, beds and brines.
Low-water-use nanofiltration process
With the help of Membrane Development Specialists, LLC, Noram Ventures has bench testing the recovery yield of a low-water-use nanofiltration process designed to extract lithium carbonate directly from claystone. The purpose of this was to help define a conceptual process model for further development of the lithium claystones at the Clayton Valley project.
The nanofiltration process is based on proven membrane technology already in use across the mining and oil & gas industries. In fact, Lithium X, Pure Energy and even Albemarle are considering this technology for extracting lithium from brine.
“Extracting lithium from clay is unique from gold or copper extraction, for example; it’s very much a chemistry as opposed to a mining process,” explained Mark Ireton, President of Noram. “We have a new patented proprietary method aimed at lithium clay. The technology itself is not new; in fact, it’s well-known globally in other industries. It has been used for lithium brine, and, we’re tweaking it for clay-based extraction. Our process is close-looped and completely recyclable, so far more environmentally-friendly and much less water-intensive than conventional methods.”
Noram believes establishing a low-water-use lithium extraction method is the company’s golden ticket to advancing a lithium exploration project in a region like Nevada. “We feel this technology will help us be one of the first out of the gate for production which is key in this are,” stated Ireton. “Water is both a politically and environmentally sensitive hotbed in Nevada. We are hopeful we’ll be able to completely negate that issue and bring real value to shareholders.”
Once proven successful for use in claystone, the technology will be economically advantageous both in terms of time and dollars, allowing for an exceedingly lower CAPEX and OPEX than conventional production methods.
Water and scoping studies progress
In September 2016, the company announced the completion of an initial water resources study conducted by Starpoint Enterprises which indicates that the Clayton Valley has sufficient water supply for the nanofiltration process. The study is a part of Noram’s ongoing pre-development scoping process.
“This water study will be instrumental in providing a path forward to secure water rights for exploration and development at our Clayton Valley lithium brine/clay project,” said Ireton. “The study also provides important information that will be included in our initial NI 43-101 technical and preliminary economic assessment reports.”
Hades, Zeus and Spartan claim groups
The Clayton Valley property has three claim groups: Hades, Zeus and Spartan.
Hades shows significant lithium values
The Hades claim group is located approximately 5 kilometers south of the Silver Peak mine. Results from the Phase 1 sampling program at Hades confirmed lithium-rich claystone with values up to 1,030 ppm lithium. The results indicated the potential for a large mass of lithium mineralized claystones at Hades. “This is a very exciting discovery as it provides our exploration team with confirmation of high levels of lithium in the area of the Hades claim group,” said Ireton.
Zeus: highest lithium values to date
The Zeus claim group is located within 2 kilometers of Albemarle’s Silver Peak mine. Phase 2 surface and sub-surface sampling completed in July 2016 at Zeus included a total of 73 samples (primarily vertical chip) taken over a 1,200 meter x 800 meter area. Assays returned lithium values ranging from 206 ppm to a high of 1,670 ppm with an average value of 780 ppm—the highest values to date on the Clayton Valley Lithium project and far above the economic standard for production (100 to 200 ppm lithium).
The results indicate the potential for a large mass of lithium mineralized claystones at Zeus and have prompted Noram to apply for permitting to conduct shallow core drill testing of the higher-grade lithium zones.
The Phase 3 exploration program at the Clayton Valley lithium project will focus on the Zeus, Hades and Spartan claim groups, and will include geological mapping and sampling to define targets for core drilling.
In December 2016, Noram announced the start of the drilling program that would include 46 holes in a target area of 4.1 kilometers by 2.4 kilometers on the Zeus claims. The program included drilling, core logging, splitting, sampling and assay analysis, and was completed by early February 2017.
Results from the drilling program showed the highest lithium values on the project to date and included assays ranging from 162.5 ppm lithium to 2,380 ppm lithium with an average value of 907.8 ppm lithium.
“We are extremely pleased with the results from our Phase I drilling program. We are advancing to the science stage of the project and additional expertise has been engaged to consult with Noram’s management on next steps in the lithium extraction process,” said Ireton. “The Phase I results will also be instrumental in planning our Phase II drilling program that will encompass the Spartan and Hades claims and enable us to determine the lithium potential of our entire South Block property.”
The results of the Phase I drilling program were used to develop a NI 43-101 resource estimate, which was released in July 2017. The resource estimate reported an inferred resource of 17 million tonnes at a grade of 1,060 ppl lithium, which is equal to 94,476 lithium carbonate equivalents. The deposit is open in several directions, which means there is considerable potential for growing the resource.
Arizaro East lithium project
Noram purchased 100 percent of the 2,709-hectare Arizaro East lithium brine/clay project in July of 2017. The property is located on the eastern segment of the Arizaro salt lake in Argentina’s Salta province, within the boundaries of the lithium triangle. Despite its location, which is also home to a number of lithium mining and exploration projects like Latin American Minerals and Lithium X, the property is largely unexplored.
“We are very pleased to have closed on the 100% acquisition of a land position in Argentina, which will diversify and complement our existing asset mix of lithium and graphite properties,” said Noram President Mark Ireton. “Our focus is not only on finding and developing lithium and graphite deposits, but also on sourcing and supporting new, environmentally-friendly, processing techniques to produce our lithium and graphite products.”
The Arizaro salt lake is the third largest in the world, covering 197,000 hectares, and has seen very little exploration. As it is nearby established infrastructure and only 45 kilometers from the Chilean border, the salt lake has seen a rise in exploration interest.
Since the acquisition, the company has had an environmental impact assessment approved by the Salta mining authorities. This allows the company to conduct exploration on the property with the aim of confirming its potential for hosting lithium in the sediments.
Jumbo Flake Graphite Property
The Jumbo flake graphite project covers 15,050 hectares in the Slocan mining division of southeastern British Columbia, approximately 88 kilometers south of Revelstoke. This region has a rich mining history dating back to the 1860s. Existing infrastructure includes a network of logging and secondary roads, readily available power and water, and an experienced mining labor force.
A 2012 SkyTEM survey delineated conductive features consistently associated with a graphitic horizon throughout the property, with a cumulative length of roughly 50 kilometers. The company believes that all of these conductors may be related to a single continuous complexly folded graphitic sequence. This conductive horizon has the potential to host significant concentrations of graphite and very little of the total strike length has been tested to date.
New discovery includes highest grades sampled to date
In June 2016, Noram announced the results of its most recent exploration program at the Jumbo flake graphite project which consisted of a surface rock sampling program conducted over approximately 6,000 hectares. Graphite mineralization was encountered in all conductive zones sampled with sample assays ranging from 0.24 percent graphitic carbon to as high as 16.6 percent graphitic carbon.
Metallurgical testing: battery grade graphite
SGS Lakefield has conducted an initial metallurgical testing of a 10-kilogram sample from the Jumbo Flake Graphite property, which produced three key results:
- Head grade of 3.81 percent high-purity flake graphite
- 45.5 percent was classified as large flake, battery grade
- Average grade of 96.0 percent carbon purity; a very high-grade early stage result
Mark Ireton – President, CEO, and Director
Mark Ireton is a banker by profession with over 30 years of experience in all areas of commercial mid-market lending. He is versed in both public and private transactions, reorganizations, acquisitions—both management buyouts and leveraged buyouts—and divestitures in a variety of sectors that include wholesale distribution, manufacturing, aviation, transportation, construction, excavation, post production and oil service.
Ken Phillippe – CFO and Director
Ken Phillipe is a Chartered accountant with over 25 years of experience working with public companies in the capacities of director, executive officer, financial advisor or consultant. He holds a BComm and articled with Thorne Riddell (now KPMG) and obtained his professional accounting designation in 1981. He established his own accounting practice in 1982.
Cyrus Driver – Independent Director
A chartered accountant, Cyrus Driver was founding partner in the firm of Driver Anderson since its inception in 1982 and a partner in the firm of Davidson and Company LLP. Whilst providing general public accounting services to a wide range of clients, he specializes in servicing TSX Venture listed companies and members of the brokerage community. His wide knowledge of the securities industry and its rules have enabled him to give valuable advice to clients with respect to finance, taxation and other accounting related matters. Driver currently serves as director and or chief financial officer of several TSX-V listed companies.
Arthur Brown – Independent Director
Art Brown brings 36 years of business experience to the Noram board. He has served on the boards of eight other companies in sectors ranging from technology to oil & gas and mineral exploration. Brown understands all the aspects and requirements a public company has to operate successfully. This knowledge and experience has been translated into many successful financings for the various companies he has been involved with.
Chris Farnworth – Vice President Corporate Development
Chris Farnworth is a business management and corporate finance executive with over 30 years of experience in the public and private markets, across all resource sectors.
Brad Peek CPG – Senior Consulting Geologist
More than 40 years’ experience in project management, mineral exploration and in computer applications in the mineral exploration and mining. Eleven years’ experience with a water engineering consulting firm. Society of Economic Geologists Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration of AIME American Institute of Professional Geologists – Certified Professional Geologist, CPG11299
Raymond P. Spanjers, MS, P.Geo – Consulting Geologist
Profession in geology since 1980 and has 37 years of experience in mineral exploration, mining and mineral processing of industrial minerals, which include spodumene, and lithium brines, quartz, feldspar, mica, olivine, attapulgite, silica sand and tripoli.
Gavin Harrison – Land Man, President of Harrison Land Services, Colorado Plateau Mineral
Specialties in acquisition, exploration & data management
Don Hamilton – Consultant
A proven project coordinator in the natural resource extraction industry with over 16 year’s experience in permitting, environmental regulation, and environmental monitoring and compliance
Michael Schern – Consultant
A project manager with wide experience in the natural resource extraction industry with over 40 years of experience in permitting, water and property rights, environmental regulation and major project development