Blue Eagle’s strategy is to explore and evaluate the Company’s holdings in Railroad Valley, Nevada, a highly prospective green-fields lithium brine target.
Railroad Valley is located ~100 miles (~161 km) east of Clayton Valley, home to the largest producer of lithium from brines in North America – the Silver Peak mine – which has been in production since 1966.
The potential for rich lithium brine may be even greater in Railroad Valley than in Clayton Valley due to Railroad Valley being volumetrically larger and having a larger playa surface and catchment area.
Railroad Valley also shares several geological factors with Clayton Valley, and unique mining industry advantages, that support the valley’s potential for the discovery of significant lithium deposits.
These factors, combined with Railroad Valley’s proximity to power and transportation infrastructure, and Nevada’s stable and mining-friendly government, have resulted in multiple mining companies ramping up lithium exploration activities in the valley.
Railroad Valley Location
Roughly 48 miles to the northeast of Railroad Valley is Ely, Nevada, where accommodations, skilled workers and heavy equipment are available.
Around 125 miles (200 km) north is Elko, where drilling/mining contractors and services are available.
Railroad Valley’s Scope
Railroad Valley is one of the largest trapped drainage basins (i.e., playas) in North America.
Its size is comparable to that of the Salinas Grandes salt flat in Argentina, which is potentially one of the best lithium resources in the world.
When compared to the nearby producing Clayton Valley, the whole of Railroad Valley is double the size.
Size of Clayton Valley vs Railroad Valley
The Railroad Valley playa, meanwhile, is nearly 350% the size of the Clayton Valley playa.
Railroad Valley also represents a larger catchment area than Clayton Valley, and a basin fill about twice that of Clayton Valley based on seismic surveys and oil well drilling data.
Oil Exploration as Lithium Exploration Advantage
Since 1954, over 100 oil and gas wells have been completed within Railroad Valley, resulting in ~90% of Nevada’s oil production from 5 fields, with production ongoing today.
Over the years, many of the wells penetrated brines, while drilling activities and seismic surveys have amassed invaluable data for targeting potential brine aquifers.
Cross Section Railroad Valley Based on Bore Holes & Geological Projection
These existing geological insights represent a unique advantage for lithium exploration in Railroad Valley.
Stratigraphic Column Railroad Valley Area
Lithium in Railroad Valley
Various US government agencies sampled for lithium in Railroad Valley between 1973 and 1986, with over 346 surface soil samples collected in 1980, resulting in the collection of anomalous lithium samples.
Northern Railroad Valley Lithium Sample Locations
The US Geological Survey (UGSG) first identified Railroad Valley’s potential to host lithium-bearing brines beneath the valley floor.
While near surface lithium grades of 150 to 280 parts per million (ppm) were detected in the valley, the USGS documented soil samples collected on the surface of the playa as containing elevated concentrations of over 500 ppm lithium oxide (USGS Professional Paper 918).
In comparison, the Clayton Valley lithium brine ranges from 230 to 400 ppm. In turn, the USGS samples from Railroad Valley are considered to be ‘ore grade’ due to containing lithium values higher than those found in Clayton Valley’s producing lithium brine.
These highest-concentration samples were collected within Railroad Valley’s gravity low, a geological feature that provides clues to the presence of underground lithium-bearing brines or aquifers.
Railroad Valley Area Showing Bouger Gravity Low Readings
Rock outcroppings surrounding Railroad Valley are also anomalous in lithium, which closely matches the USGS’s ore deposit model for lithium brine deposits of the type found in Clayton Valley.
Ingredients For Substantial Lithium Discovery
Railroad Valley exhibits all the major ingredients for substantial lithium discovery:
- Presence of evaporates
- Surrounded by volcanic rocks (a known source for lithium)
- Surface samples exhibiting positive lithium in sediments
- Massive gravity lows
- Likelihood of a deep basin containing a thick sequence of saturated sedimentary formations
- Enclosed, fault-bounded basin valley
- Dry lakebed (playa)
- Exposed to evapotranspiration
- Near surface waters cropping out
- Oil and gas field with seismic and subsurface well data available
Adding to the valley’s attractiveness as an exploration target is that, in contrast to traditional hard-rock lithium plays, Railroad Valley is conducive to lithium brine extraction, which is the most cost-effect form of production, and the method responsible for the majority of global lithium production.
Water rights are also a positive factor, with no competition for water rights existing within Railroad Valley. In sharp contrast, water rights in Clayton Valley are held by only 2 companies, with 1 of them – multi-billion-dollar Albemarle – contesting any further applications.
While Railroad Valley is geologically similar to nearby Clayton Valley in many significant ways, it differs in that it represents a new and virtually unexplored target, with only a handful of companies present, unlike Clayton Valley’s leases, which are fragmented across many competing companies.
Based on extensive lithium-rich shales and mudstones outcropping and tested to shallow depth by Cypress Minerals and Noram Ventures in Clayton Valley, the shallow fine-grained sediments including mudstone, shale and volcanic ash units, demonstrates that the current 200 claim land position of Blue Eagle Lithium should be evaluated on both surface and by shallow drilling for possible surface-mineable lithium-rich units.
The brines occur
The brines occur in Paleozoic and younger sedimentary beds that vary in depth. The primary target would be the more recent playa sediments, mostly within 2000 feet (610 meters) of surface. Test wells will be needed to provide lithologic data and lithium analysis samples.
The Railroad Valley area holds potential for the discovery of significant lithium deposits. Overall closed basin drainages within fault-created basinal structures and the evolved lithium bearing sediments and brines are similar to those better known settings in the Clayton Valley area to the south, where wells and land positions have had lithium production from brines for over 50 years.
Central Nevada hosts multiple enclosed drainage basins with valley filling of younger sediments over deeper Paleozoic carbonate and shale horizons. The potential for lithium accumulations lie both within the younger shaley surface sediments, and within the interstitial brines encountered within the upper sediments and also within the deeper Paeozoic formations.
Railroad Valley is notable in that it contains several oil and gas discoveries in Paleozoic formations, and within other younger porous lithologic units including volcanic flows.