Dajin Resources COO Catherine Hickson shares her perspective on Nevada’s water rights legislation, and the company’s own water rights in the state.
Dajin Resources (TSXV:DJI,OTCMKTS:DJIFF,FWB:C2U1) holds strategically located brine-based lithium projects in Nevada and Argentina, assets that align the company with the clean energy economy and growing demand for lithium.
Dajin’s core assets are the 100-percent-owned Teels Marsh and Alkali Lake projects in Nevada, which hosts Tesla Motors’ (NASAQ:TSLA) (partnered with Panasonic (TSE:6752)) new lithium-ion battery, power storage and electric vehicle gigafactory.
Dajin has applied for water rights for the Alkali Lake project, located outside of the Clayton Valley basin and approximately 7 miles from Albemarle’s (NYSE:ALB) Silver Peak lithium mine. Dajin was granted water rights for Teels Marsh by the Nevada Division of Water Resources in 2016, representing an important development milestone in the Clayton Valley region, where companies are increasingly vying for permits and water rights. In 2017, Dajin has been moving forward aggressively on exploration and development activities at Teels Marsh in preparation for drilling.
In the interview below, Dajin Resources COO Catherine Hickson shares her perspective on Nevada’s water rights legislation, and the company’s own water rights in the state.
INN: Most of our investor audience understands that water rights are central to success for lithium projects in Nevada. For those not in the know, please explain why the water rights issue has become a crucial factor for lithium explorers in Nevada.
CH: Water rights are interesting because Nevada, as many people understand, is a very dry state, and as a result water is very important. For more than 100 years water rights have been an important part of development in Nevada. Lithium, whether it’s in sediments or even hard rock, requires water. So you have to obtain your water rights from the state in order to move forward on your projects. But it is a complicated issue because there are two kinds of water rights. There are consumptive water rights — consumptive meaning you are actually using that water, evaporating it away in the case of ponds. Or you are non-consumptive and pumping it back down into the aquifer, which is where the brines come from. It is a bit complicated, but the bottom line is you need to have water rights to move forward in Nevada.
INN: What’s the status of your Nevada-based projects in regards to water rights?
CH: Dajin has been fairly lucky. We applied for water rights for our two main projects, Teels Marsh and Alkali Lake, as soon as we had staked them. At Teels we have received those water rights. The way water rights work in Nevada is on a first come, first serve basis. In Alkali Lake there is another company ahead of us; not a lithium company but a mining company who will be using it for other purposes. Their water rights need to be cleared first before ours are granted. We are well ahead of the game at Alkali and already we have received water rights at Teels. We are also very happy that we have just received our Bureau of Land Management permit to go ahead with drilling, which is critical to our future exploration and development.
INN: I understand this year’s legislative session in Nevada will focus on several water-related bills, including revisions to the existing Assembly Bill 52. Please provide our audience with some background on this bill.
CH: This is a very interesting bill and it has been brought about by the issues surrounding water and exploration; specifically, lithium exploration in Nevada. Bill 52 allows a company to conduct exploration without receiving water rights. From a high level I think it will give the perception to potential shareholders looking to invest in Nevada that the situation has improved. But in fact, it does not actually allow much more that you can do without existing water rights and within the existing system. It is an interesting bill, and we are watching it very closely because we do think it will have a positive spin for investors. But in practical terms, I don’t think it’s going to help a lot because, I want to stress, the bill is about exploration, not about development. As soon as you start pumping brines to produce you will need water rights, whether those water rights be consumptive or non-consumptive. This bill only helps in the exploration stage.
INN: You recently released a technical report for the Teels Marsh project. Would you like to share some of the highlights of this report and what it means for the project going forward?
CH: The 43-101 technical report is an important document because it is a verification to our investors. At Teels Marsh we are still in our early stages of exploration, but we have completed a gravity survey, a magnetic survey and we did a very extensive seismic survey. And that seismic survey, in particular, lets us look into the subsurface and tells us the depth of the basin. Teels is a very deep basin; at over 2,500 meters in depth, it is one of the deepest basins in Nevada. The 43-101 pulls all that information together into what we call a conceptual model of what we understand about the basin. We are not able to provide a resource estimate because we have not drilled yet. However, we do have very interesting concentrations of lithium brine at the surface. So we are focusing on that lithium concentration in brine at the surface, and then our drilling program going forward.
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