Bacanora Minerals has agreed with its joint venture partner, Rare Earth Minerals (REM), to start the second stage exploration and drilling programme on the Sonora lithium project in Mexico.

The drilling programme on the El Sauz, Fleur and new staked concessions (the JV Lands) is expected to start in early October 2013.

The second stage exploration programme will involve a series of diamond drill holes targeting between 3,000m and 3,500m.

Under the programme, both the firms plan to complete infill holes required to upgrade the known resource and conduct step-out drilling to test for extensions of the known resources, especially onto the newly staked concessions.

Bacanora Minerals said geological mapping and the results of previous drilling conducted indicated that the lithium-bearing clay units extend.

Fieldwork featuring detailed mapping and systematic surface sampling is currently in progress, along with finalising drill site locations and access roads planning.

The drilling contract has been awarded for one rig and additional rigs will be available if required to complete the programme.

Bacanora, which has already completed metallurgical test work on the La Ventana concession, plans to conduct the same work on the JV Lands to establish optimum process parameters for extracting lithium from the clays.

The company also intends to optimise the process for the production of lithium carbonate from lithium-bearing solutions derived from the clays.

The Sonora lithium project features the La Ventana, La Ventana 1 and the San Gabriel concessions, which are owned 100% by Bacanora.

The project also features the contiguous El Sauz, El Sauz 1, El Sauz 2, Fleur and Fleur 1 concessions, which are owned 70% by Bacanora and 30% by REM.