Queensland lithium project leverages the times
Dangerfield’s marks, Ash Barty’s serve and Munster’s side step.
Strategic Metals Australia (SMA) seems to have stolen the game, served an ace and broke the New South Wales Blues’ line all at once … depending on your preferred ball sport.
SMA is exploring a suite of tenements near Forsayth in North Queensland for the mineral of the moment, lithium. The company has presented its credentials at this week’s AusIMM Lithium Conference in Perth.
They have a strategic, as well as a geological story to tell, says SMA director of exploration Bradley Crighton.
Lithium is a battery element already in demand, with an exponential growth track.
The conference in Perth was told that the demand forecast for lithium was expected to double by 2025, Mr Crighton said.
“Lithium is considered a critical element and there will be a massive demand over the next 10 – 20 years,” he said.
“That comes from the emerging electric vehicle and battery storage industries. Lithium also appears in the U.S.-China trade dispute as a critical metal coming out of China which has the potential to be used as a chess piece in world trade”.
“There’s also the battery factory development proposal for Townsville put forward by the Imperium 3 Corporation.
“This presents an option for them to source and secure their supply in Queensland. Otherwise their supply may come from Western Australia or overseas.”
Lithium is not widespread in the world. Western Australia has significant resources but Mr Crighton said the SMA holding was the only deposit on the east coast of Australia.
It had pedigree, he said.
“When we were drilling several lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatites in 2016 we discovered large amounts of surrounding ‘country rock’ were mineralised with a lithium-mica replacement mineralisation,” he said.
“Similar deposits in the world include Cinovec in the Czech Republic described as containing 372mt at 0.4 per cent lithium oxide, owned by European Metals, and San Jose located in Spain owned by the Infinity Lithium Corporation coming in at 112mt at 0.61 per cent lithium oxide.
“That compares well with the potential of SMA’s tenements that indicate a very large volume of low-grade mineralisation is present. The discovery opens up the potential for Queensland to become a significant miner and processor of lithium salts for battery manufacture.”
Exploration to date has been funded by equity partners Nagrom Laboratories in Perth, Deepcore Drilling and Geological Solutions in Queensland.
SMA and its partners were now looking to go to the next level, Mr Crighton said.
“In the next 12 months, we are looking for another partner to help develop the field,” he said. “This will include further drilling to increase the volumes, modelling, resource calculation and feasibility studies.”
There is a degree of urgency to meet the predicted demand of the mid 2020s.
SMA had been in initial discussion with a leading Australian technology provider to licence their processing technology, chief executive officer Graham Willett said.
“The project would not only produce lithium salts for battery manufacture but also by-products; including the metals tantalum, tin and caesium plus premium-grade potash fertiliser for the agricultural industry,” he said.
“It is the value of by-product that has the potential to make this operation an attractive low-cost alternative to other sources.”
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