Cultivating Lithium Interest in Japan


"Japan follows South Korea's lead in pursuit of lithium."

Less than a week after a South Korean investment group pledged $15 million in a joint venture (JV) and feasibility study in an Argentinean salar, a Japanese company is following suit. Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has agreed to invest $4 million in a JV with American Lithium Minerals, Inc. in the Borate Hills Project. This move on the part of Asian companies to secure a reliable lithium supply by developing projects in foreign lithium deposits is of great interest. The differences of the two projects are notable; however, the underlying value of the resource potential is also apparent via the strong continued appetite for lithium.

The Korean group elected to invest in a lithium brine deposit within the region of the only commercial lithium-producing salar in Argentina and the source of approximately 10% of the world's production of lithium. Subsurface brines have become the dominant raw material for lithium carbonate production worldwide because of lower production costs compared with the mining and processing costs for hard-rock ores.

The more recently announced Japanese JV involves a boron and lithium mineralization contained in strata-bound formations that are a combination of claystone and volcanic tuff in Nevada. During the mid-80s, this region of the United States was identified as the second-largest boron deposit in the country, and is resident to lithium values with an extent of 1.5 miles and thicknesses of up to 1,300 feet.

Both joint ventures are composed of a North American mineral exploration company teamed with an Asian partnership.

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