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Australian company hypes its proposed Utah Lithium Project
|JONATHAN P. THOMPSON|
The Lisbon Valley mining claim rush continues: In May, Australia-based Mandrake Lithium filed 217 20-acre placer claims, totaling 4,340 acres, on Bureau of Land Management parcels in the Lisbon Valley in San Juan County, Utah.
That’s a lot of land, but is only makes up a small piece of the company’s 88,000-acre proposed Utah Lithium Project, comprised of 2,700 BLM claims and a 34,670-acre swath of Utah School Institutional and Trust Lands Administration parcels. The main block of acreage lies south of the town of La Sal, with the SITLA lands scattered about the general vicinity.
In a press release, Mandrake Resources Managing Director, James Allchurch crowed: “Mandrake has now secured, at a very little cost, over 80,000 acres prospective for lithium brines in the Paradox Basin, Utah, confirming the acquisition of a potentially world-class lithium project.” It appears that they’ll be using old oil and gas wells and perhaps drilling new wells to extract the lithium.
The Lisbon Valley, which lies east of Canyonlands National Park between Moab and Monticello, has long been targeted by mining and oil and gas drilling companies. It was where Charlie Steen established his Mi Vida uranium mine, making him a millionaire, sparking a regional prospecting frenzy and turning Moab into a boomtown, if only for a little while. It’s drawing uranium and copper mining once again, along with various companies staking claims for lithium mining. Also holding large blocks of claims in the Lisbon Valley are Boxscore Brands and MGX Minerals Petrolithium.
Mandrake’s project, were it ever come to fruition, would be the largest in the Lisbon Valley by far, acreage wise. But they still have a long ways to go before anything actually happens.
They may get a bit of help from a proposed land swap between SITLA and the U.S. Interior Department aimed at making Bears Ears National Monument whole. SITLA will hand over 130,000 acres of its lands within Bears Ears National Monument, in addition to 30,000 acres of state lands elsewhere in Utah, to the federal government. In exchange, the BLM will give SITLA 163,000 acres from around Utah, including 52,000 acres in San Juan County, a good chunk of it in the Lisbon Valley.
Regulations on state land are likely to be even looser than those on federal land. So the land swap should benefit Mandrake and other companies looking to mine the Lisbon Valley.
In other mining claim news …
Freeport-McMoran Exploration Corp. files 89 20.66-acre lode claims in southwestern New Mexico totaling 1,838 acres. The claims are in a small mountain range just south of I-10 and west of Cotton City right along the Arizona line. Freeport-McMoran is a huge mining company that typically focuses on copper and molybdenum.
Majuba Mining files 19 20-acre claims near Lordsburg, New Mexico, (and just north of the aforementioned Freeport-McMoran claims) in a dry lake bed. They appear to be expanding their holdings here, though it’s not clear what they intend to mine (though the alkali flats could point to lithium). I can’t find much on Majuba Mining except that they seem to have mining claims in Nevada and were in a lawsuit a few years back over paying maintenance fees on claims.
Western Cobalt LLC, with offices in Sandy, Utah, files 127 20.66-acre lode claims in Tooele County, Utah, between Utah Lake and Dugway totaling 2,624 acres. This is outside our usual geographic focus, but we noticed it for the large size of the property as well as the fact that it’s made by a company with “cobalt” in its name. Which leads us to think maybe they’re planning on mining cobalt, which is used in electric vehicle and grid-scale batteries. This is notable because the nation’s only large-scale cobalt mine recently opened in Idaho — and then promptly shut down (before producing anything) due to decreasing prices of the metal.
These projects and more can be found on the Land Desk Mining Monitor Map, updated regularly.
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