Vancouver-based Grosso Group Management President and Chairman Joe Grosso is no ordinary joe when it comes to mining in Argentina. He's the Joe.
The Grosso Group started exploration work in Argentina in 1993 but its first exploration success came four years later when Minas Argentinas (MASA), a joint venture between Oro Belle Resources and Grosso's IMA Resource (later renamed IMA Exploration), literally struck gold in San Juan province.
MASA drills intercepted what would become the Gualcamayo gold mine. Yamana Gold (AUY:NYSE) put it into production a decade or so later with IMA Exploration retaining a 2% net smelter return royalty.
In 2002, IMA Exploration followed up Gualcamayo with the discovery of the mammoth 1.2-billion-ounce (1Boz) Navidad silver deposit in north-central Chubut province.
Eight years later Golden Arrow—another Grosso-backed explorer—discovered the Chinchillas silver-lead-zinc deposit 40 miles west of Abra Pampa in Jujuy, Argentina.
Chinchillas marked the third major precious metals discovery by a Grosso Group company. Joe Grosso has since been inducted into Argentina's Mining Hall of Fame.
These days Grosso and his team have shifted their focus from precious metals to the one metal that has found its way into the lexicon of average joes everywhere: lithium.
It's in cars, tablets, cordless tools—even antidepressants. More importantly, some of the world's largest lithium brine deposits have been found in Argentina.
Argentina Lithium and Energy Corp. (LIT:TSX; PNXLF:OTC; OAY3:FSE), the latest Grosso-backed explorer, with Joe Grosso serving as a director, has secured concessions in what's known as the "lithium triangle," an immense area of salars or salt flats that straddle parts of southern Bolivia, eastern Chile, and western Argentina.
The lithium brine deposits in this region account for roughly about half of all global lithium production and 60% of lithium salt brine reserves.
"The recent interest in global lithium demand has seen both the federal government and the provinces that are located in the lithium triangle become very supportive of groups serious about the discovery and development of new lithium reserves," Nicolaos Cacos, president and CEO of Argentina Lithium and Energy, tells Streetwise Reports.
Cacos adds: "Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and mining is so underdeveloped… governments want to see how they can develop (natural resources) and increase revenues from mining."
Cacos is president and CEO of another company under the Grosso Group umbrella, Blue Sky Uranium. It is developing the advanced-stage Amarillo Grande uranium-vanadium project in Rio Negro province, Argentina.
Argentina Lithium, meanwhile, owns a 100% interest in the 13,300-hectare Salar Incahuasi Project in Catamarca province. The property is about 20 miles by gravel road to the nearest town.
Salar Incahuasi is about 3,200 meters above sea level in an extremely arid region that Cacos says is highly prospective for brine deposits, especially at depth.
Northeast of Incahuasi, Argentina Lithium holds 9,000 hectares in the northern portion of the Salar de Antofalla in Salta province, Argentina.
Several other companies are exploring the same salar for lithium, including U.S.-based specialty metals giant Albermarle (ALB:NYSE).
A report by London-based Roskill says Albermarle acquired its land position in the Salar de Antofalla from Bolland Minera, a private mining firm based in Buenos Aires.
As of 2016, Bolland had drilled 56 boreholes over 265 square kilometers in the Salar de Antofalla and defined a resource measuring 83 million tonnes potash (potassium chloride) at 6,400 milligrams per liter (6,400 mg/l) and 2.22 million tonnes lithium (11.8 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent) grading 350mg/l (the resource is not compliant with National Instrument 43-101 requirements).
Albermarle operates a lithium mine high in the Atacama Desert across the border with Chile where it produces 90 million tonnes battery-grade lithium carbonate annually—one of the most profitable segments of its business.
New York-based Fitch Solutions estimates that lithium demand will climb to 1.5 million tonnes of lithium carbonate-equivalent by 2030, a more than three-fold increase from 442,000 tonnes of in 2020. The increase in demand, Fitch notes, will be largely underpinned by the accelerated adoption of electric vehicles, which is expected to leap to 21.2 million units in 2030, up from only 3.1 million units in 2020.
Cacos sees promise in his company's existing projects but believes Argentina Lithium still needs to add more.
"Our next step right now is to bolster our portfolio of projects in Argentina. We're negotiating with a number of local owners for projects that we feel have excellent potential for lithium discoveries," Cacos says.
Cacos says Argentina Lithium will soon make some announcements regarding further acquisitions and any subsequent exploration programs. He is also seeking a geologist to head up exploration.
He notes that the junior has enough cash to conduct geophysical and geochemistry work, and maybe some drilling, but will probably have to top up the treasury to continue further exploration.
"Our management team has nearly 30 years of experience working in Argentina. There is tremendous potential to make multiple lithium discoveries," Cacos says.
It's what not-so-ordinary joes do.
Argentina Lithium trades in a 52-week range of $0.05 to $0.26 with 43 million shares outstanding (about 65 million fully diluted).
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1) Brian Sylvester compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an independent contractor. He or members of his household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. He or members of his household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None. His company has a financial relationship with the following companies referred to in this article: None.
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