The company holds the mining title and rights to the El Benton Mine and adjacent Monte Verde concessions.
The El Benton Mine and Monte Verde properties combined represent approximately 739 hectares located in the Province of Ñuflo de Chavez, Department of Santa Cruz in Eastern Bolivia, 200 kilometres from the city of Santa Cruz. It is a past-producing operation with all the necessary licences, which previously exported tantalum and niobium concentrates.
A cumulative 'chip sampling' campaign of 23 samples was executed over a strike length of 1 kilometre, with a grade up to 1.31% lithium from a selected lepidolite bearing sample. This sample underwent a series of metallurgical tests including magnetic and optical separation techniques which resulted in four different concentrates, and confirmed results of total rare earth oxide content (TREO) in excess of 54%, including neodymium grade of 10.77%, gadolinium grade of 4.68% and dysprosium grade of 0.49%. Throughout the optical separation process, the TREO content from the sample was increased from 17.58% to 54.42%. The niobium content was increased from 18.68% to a grade of 43.69%,and tantalum content from 8.01% to a grade of 19.21%.
Commercial niobium and tantalum concentrates
Auxico's objective is to relaunch the mine for the production of commercial niobium and tantalum concentrates, to define the lithium potential of the property, and to undertake optimal sorting in order to create concentrates of elements required for the energetic transition.
Auxico's licensed ultrasound technology, the Ultrasound Assisted Extraction (UAEx), is a patent-pending approach of pH-sweep (research conducted in collaboration with the research centre Coalia, Quebec) that eliminates uranium and thorium radioactivity from concentrates, and could be effective on the Bolivian concentrates. The UAEx is a greener and more effective means of separation compared to the solvent extraction standard, including the separation of non-desirable materials from concentrates. "The UAEx enhances metal recoveries from ore at the industrial scale, with the current pilot working at a maximum capacity of roughly 2 and 5 tonnes of laterite and monazite ore per day, respectively, is a technology applicable at commercial scale", says Prof Daria C. Boffito, of the Polytechnique Montréal. "Metal production accounts for approximately 10% of global GHG emissions, making it one of the most urgent sectors to decarbonise. This technology, the UAEx, is a form of process intensification which gathers a pool of innovative approaches that improve process efficiency, and provide opportunities for feedstock substitution, energy transition, in particular for the electrification of the chemical industry, with benefits as follows: (1) energy savings in the range of 20 to 80%; (2) capital and operational expenditures savings from 20% to 80%; and (3) chemical inventory reductions from 10 to 1,000 times and (4) a relevant improvement in yield and selectivity," commented Prof Boffito.
Auxico is currently executing two research projects with Polytechnique Montréal, with regard to the extraction and recovery of critical minerals from ore tailings, and the continuous molecular recognition technology for selective rare earth elements separation. A visit conducted by the Auxico's qualified geologists to the El Benton Mine resulted in 14 surface samples and the discovery of pegmatite structures which contained lithium over a distance of 1 kilometre. Some of the lithium contained in lepidolite boulders also indicated extremely high values of other critical minerals. ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) analysis conducted by Impact Global Solutions in Canada, of outcrop samples taken from the El Benton Mine include grades of 1.31% lithium, 6.76% yttrium, 11.73% molybdenum, 0.16% dysprosium, 0.31% neodymium, 0.36% samarium, 0.11% terbium and 0.59% ytterbium.
The MOU dictates an initial payment of $40,000 and a subsequent payment of $100,000, due upon the renewal of mining and environmental permits. Auxico will retain an 85% equity interest in the El Benton Mine, along with 85% of the profits from both El Benton and Monte Verde concessions under a joint venture format. The remaining 15% profit share will go to the current property owner.
The acquisition strategically positions Auxico in the market for rare earths and critical minerals, essential in today's fast-evolving tech landscape. With rights to a mine rich in tantalum, niobium, lithium, and other elements crucial for technological advancements, Auxico's investment in Bolivia looks very shrewd.