American Battery Technology Company (ABTC) has identified what it calls “one of the largest known lithium deposits in the United States” at its Tonopah Flats Lithium Project in Big Smoky Valley, Nevada.
The ABTC Tonopah Flats Lithium Project encompasses 517 unpatented lode claims covering approximately 10,340 acres. ABTC began surface sampling of these claims in 2021, and subsequently performed multiple subsurface drilling programs totaling 12,000 feet of exploration covering approximately 65% of its property.
ABTC has presented an inferred resource report, as such things are called in the argot of the mining industry. This includes an independent analysis of the data performed by the third-party firm RESPEC, classified by geological and quantitative confidence in accordance with SEC regulations.
The ABTC Tonopah Flats inferred resource represents an estimated 15.8 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent, and the company says there is potential to significantly expand the resources with further drilling extending to the north and south property boundaries and at greater depths.
ABTC’s analysis indicates that the resource should support a processing rate of at least 200,000 tons of claystone per day. The company carried out leaching trials which demonstrated that over 90% of the lithium can be extracted from the Tonopah Flats claystone within a few hours. The project is strategically situated close to infrastructure and the town of Tonopah.
“Having identified one of the largest premier lithium deposits in the US is exciting,” said ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert. “However, the identification of an inferred resource in and of itself is not enough to address our critical challenges of increasing our domestic production of critical battery metals, reducing the costs of manufacturing and decreasing environmental impacts. The development of a resource needs to be paired with the development of targeted technologies for the extraction of these metals, and we have spent the past several years developing technologies specifically targeted at these Nevada-based claystone lithium resources, and have been recognized by the DOE through our selection for a competitive R&D-scale grant in 2021 and for a competitive grant to construct a commercial-scale claystone lithium hydroxide refinery in 2022.”
Mining experts warn us that establishing domestic production of battery raw materials will be a long process, and it’s plain to see what they mean when we consider the list of steps that ABTC must now take to bring its Tonopah Flats project to production. The company will: perform a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) to analyze the potential viability of the resource; perform additional infill and extension drilling to further expand the mineral resource; publish an updated mineral resource report based on the additional drill data and continued metallurgical test work; evaluate the performance of the field pilot plant that is being constructed as part of the current DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office grant; and perform a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) to quantify the impacts of developing this resource and constructing the commercial-scale lithium hydroxide refinery.