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Vanadium

NewEra’s vanadium assets were discovered by the American Vanadium Corporation (“AVC”) in the 1940s following their successful exploitation (1906 – 1956) of the Mina Ragra vanadium mine in central Peru. This mine is one of the highest-grade vanadium deposits known, and it is hosted by bitumen. The AVC discovered > 100 occurrences  of vanadium-rich bitumen in the Nequen Basin.

Projects overview

Energy storage

Vanadium

While vanadium is mainly used in the steel industry (high-strength, low-alloy steel), vanadium is increasingly being recognised for its use in vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) for grid level storage. The annual installed capacity of vanadium batteries is forecast to reach 32.8 GWh by 2031 (about 1.6 GWh in 2022). VRFBs offer new capabilities that enable a new wave of industry growth

Projects

All projects are located in the Malargue Department, southern Mendoza province, and are 100% owned by NewEra.

Summary

Project
Area (Ha.)
% V2 O5a (rock)
% V2 O5b (ash)
Malargue south
14,675

N.A.

N.A.

Mercedes
9,629
0.3 -0.6
up to 21%
La Valencianac
4,336

1.37

up to 49%

Malargue west
2,392

N.A.

N.A.

Mallin Largod

1646

0.27

up to 11%

Alicia

984

N.A.

N.A.

La Victoria

975

N.A.

N.A.

Cerro de Panul

949

N.A.

N.A.

Los Castanos

825

N.A.

N.A.

Minacar southe

520

0.18 – 0.83

up to 67%

TOTAL

36,931

a V2O5 = vanadium pentoxide in bitumen, as reported by the American Vanadium Corporation in 1946. b V2O5 = vanadium pentoxide in ash, as reported by the American Vanadium Corporation in 1946. c La Valenciana: 1.37% V2O5 and 0.3% nickel assays reported from bitumen rock in 2018. d Mallin Largo: 0.27% V2O5 and 249 ppm nickel assays reported from bitumen rock in 2018. e Minacar South: assays reported from the Minacar Mine by American Vanadium Corporation in 1946. N.A. = not available.

Overview

The bitumen veins of the Neuquén Basin are probably the most extensive and best exposed in the world. They are predominantly constrained to Mesozoic sediments in the Andean foothills, and have been grouped into three geographical districts, one of which is SW Mendoza. Here the veins, are typically sills and occur within the Malargüe fold and thrust belt.

The bitumen source (and host) rocks are the organic rich facies of the Mendoza Group (Vaca Muerta shale) which were deposited in a back-arc basin during the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous. The bitumen is enriched in vanadium. Several authors have documented the occurrence of appreciable amounts of vanadium (up to 0.8 wt.%. V2O5, at Minacar). In addition, the shales which often host the bitumen veins are consistently enriched in vanadium.

Bitumen mining commenced in 1887 when a small prospect was exploited at Mina Anita (Mercedes project). Bitumen mining in SW Mendoza reached peak production during the 1940s when wartime embargo’s cut off the supply of British coal to Argentina.

Projects

CERRO DE PANUL

This project is situated approximately 12 km north of the Los Castanos and Mallin Largo mines and comprises a favourable geological setting of pelites cut by dykes. The presence of bitumen has been interpreted from a satellite study.

LOS CASTANOS MINE

The Los Castaños Mine is situated south of the Rio Salado, 47 km north of Malargue at an elevation of 2200 m.
It was one of the largest bitumen mines in the Mendoza Province. (average bitumen thickness = 0.7 m)

MALLIN LARGO MINE

Mallin Largo is situated at an altitude of 1970 m and the project covers a prominent 11-km long anticlinal structure (“Canada Ancha” anticline). Limited exploration and artisanal exploitation during the 1940s reported veins up to 3m thick (strike length unknown) hosted by shales of the Mendoza Group. Occasional bedding parallel offshoots also occur. Interestingly, drilling at the NE of the mine intersected bitumen at levels 53, 64, 95 and 202 m below ground level, indicating the presence of an extensive interconnected network of subsurface bitumen veins in this region. In the 1940s the Vanadium Corporation of America considered Mallin Largo to have very good exploration potential. There has been no activity since this time.

MALARGUE WEST

At Malargüe West, four exploration licence applications have been requested over three known bitumen occurrences and one area of interest over an anticline structure identified from an independent structural study.

LA VALENCIANA MINE

The La Valenciana Mine was discovered in 1922 and it was mined during the 1940s. Located 34 km west of Malargue at an elevation of 1900 m, it was one of the largest bitumen mines in the region. The Company’s project includes the now abandoned mine workings where the principal vein in the form of a sill within a shallow syncline had a reported maximum thickness of 4 m and a length of greater than 1200 m. Exploitation was near surface, but drilling away from outcrops reports bitumen intersections at a depth of 450 m. At other old bitumen mines in the region, bitumen veins are known to occur at different stratigraphic horizons.

LA VICTORIA (MINA AIDA MINE)

One of two exploration licence applications at La Victoria is adjacent to the Mina Aida mine permit which is situated south of the Rio Grande at an elevation of 1800 m. The main deposit consisted of three bitumen veins (maximum width = 1.25 m) striking approximately 155° hosted by lower to mid-Cretaceous sediments. The second licence is proximal to three documented bitumen occurrences.

LA ALICIA

The Alicia bitumen occurrence is situated approximately 1.5 km north of potential bitumen veins interpreted from a satellite and structural study. Both features are located along the same NNW – SSE structure in an area of other documented bitumen occurrences on similarly trending structures.

MINACAR SOUTH (MINE)

Minacar south is immediately southwest of the Minacar bitumen mine which operated from 1942 to 1951.
The planned exploration program will target continuations of the NNE-SSW striking veins. The principal vanadium rich vein has the form of a laccolith with a thickness of up to 30 m which in places reaches the surface. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 tons of bitumen was “forced” into the crest of an anticlinal structure.

MERCEDES

The bitumen veins are hosted in clay marl sediments of the Mendoza Group which are folded into an anticlinal structure. Two veins are reported from a limited exploration and exploitation program in the 1940s, and the principal vein has a maximum thickness of 4.5 m at the fold hinge. The vein is flat-lying and occurs as a saddle-reef type structure. There has been no activity since this time.

MALARGUE SOUTH

This project is comprised of six exploration licence applications covering an area of approximately 14,700 ha in southern Malargüe and includes five contiguous licences. Cable Beta Norte is situated on the eastern bank of the Rio Colorado at an elevation of 850 m. The deposit consists of a number of bitumen veins termed Sierra del Reyes I, II and III, and is hosted by sediments of the Mulichinco Formation (Valanginian-Hauterivian).