Iain Scarr is the Vice President for development and exploration for Millennial Lithium Corp. Mr, Scarr brings 36 years of experience in exploring and developing industrial minerals and chemicals resources to his current work in Argentina. He spent 29 years with Rio Tinto where he was credited with multiple discoveries and worked on numerous projects, including the Jadar lithium project. Since leaving Rio Tinto, Mr. Scarr has worked on multiple lithium projects bringing two large projects through feasibility. He has been based since 2010 in Salta, Argentina.
The current lithium “boom” (referred to locally as the "Guerra de Litio") has been brought about by tightness in lithium capacity and supply, resulting in sharply increased pricing. While some players are promoting plans for big developments and large volumes, what the market needs is much simpler: a steadily increasing supply of lithium compounds, tailored to the users’ needs, when they need it. The ideal solution is to regularly bring on scaled amounts of new supply, either by expanding existing production or bringing on new projects. Our challenge is to meet that incrementally growing need quickly, sensibly and at low cost.
For those of us involved in the previous wave of lithium exploration and development, experience has taught us that we can define and develop lithium mine resources much quicker and cheaper. Millennial Lithium’s strategy is to effectively use our cash and resources to quickly bring online the first production from each of of our projects within three and a half years of identifying a potentially economic resource. This presentation will explain how we plan to do so.
Our approach is a simple one. We will at first target production using conventional methods. While higher levels of production may be desirable, and new technologies may ultimately deliver lower production costs, the most important goal for any new producer should be the shortest track to cash flow: expansion and optimization are best funded from earnings.
Without the distraction and the required time to adapt and prove that new methods can function for each brine type, or having to prove very large resources, we can move quickly. After first demonstrating the presence of brine, we will move immediately to determine the chemical characteristics of the brine and adapt the known Silver Peak Process as necessary. As the exploration work continues to define the resource, successful exploration drill holes will be paired with a production-scale pumping well for determining flow rates and the required number of wells for production.
Experience has shown us that significant time and money has been lost by chasing the wrong resources, only to find after significant investment that early (deep), coarse basin-fill sediments demonstrate greater effective porosities and brine content. For that reason, our initial exploration drilling will not stop at “adequate” shallow resources, but instead will be drilled deeper to identify and test deeper aquifers.
From the first identification of lithium-bearing brine in an exploration well, we will move directly to initial process testing. By the time we complete the PEA for each project we will already have a conceptual process design in place .
Our pilot plants will be designed for the first module of our commercial-scale plant, and will be fed by test ponds that are to become the first module, or “string” of production ponds. On completion of a feasibility study, we will be ready to supply customers with product for qualification, and shortly thereafter for sale.