Exploration in the present
Many battery metals explorers tend to focus on known mineral occurrences, historical mines, and deposits. This can be attributed to several reasons:
1) Exploring in areas with existing mineralization is easier. It requires less conceptual and creative thinking as the geology is well understood and there is more data available.
2) From a marketing perspective, it is easier to convey a compelling "story" to investors when projects are located in well known areas. These projects often appear de-risked, with news ready updates and historical assay results. However, they typically offer limited upside potential in terms of deposit size.
Major discoveries usually arise from extending existing exploration models to new areas and challenging exploration dogmas.
They also tend to open new areas for exploration and trigger an acreage staking rush. Over the past two years, several new battery metal discoveries have been made, demonstrating significant tonnage and grade potential. Some notable examples include:
Corvette, Patriot Metals – lithium
Adina, Winsome Resources – lithium
Luni, West Arunta - REE
Corvette (CV4) and Adina are in Quebec. At the time of Corvette discovery, the region was already recognized as a lithium mining jurisdiction. However, Patriot's Corvette discovery opened up a new structural corridor for lithium exploration (currently estimated at 109.2 Mt with a grade of 1.42% Li2O and increasing). The subsequent Adina discovery also took place along this structural corridor. Initial estimates suggest 40-50 Mt with a grade of 1%+ Li2O and growing). Ongoing exploration in the area indicates the likelihood of further lithium discoveries.
WA1 Metals made a significant niobium discovery along a major structural trend in the West Arunta region. (Yes, the company and region have the same name.) The area has seen minimal exploration for IOCG type mineralization, with no significant discoveries up until the Luni niobium discovery. Luni is a supergene type of deposit similar to the Brazilian Araxa niobium deposit, which currently supplies c.90% of global niobium demand. Some spectacular assays are coming from the Luni project in the West Arunta:
41m @ 2.4% Nb2O5
104m @ 1.2% Nb2O5
Company is moving fast at drilling out this deposit - initial MRE will be delivered by end of the year.
Other notable battery metals discoveries in the last 2 years that opened new areas for exploration
Apollo, Collective Mining - copper
Salinas, Latin Resources - lithium
Andover, Azure Minerals - lithium
To meet the growing demand for battery metals, we require more significant discoveries. However, most explorers operate in the regions with well known small mineral deposits and lack an exploration model for finding significant discoveries in these areas. Only few explorers have skills, are willing to take risks and are able to secure financial backing to challenge traditional exploration dogmas and venture into new, less explored regions.
Note: This observation is based on daily readings of exploration press releases on the Australian and Canadian stock exchanges, as well as conversations with numerous exploration companies, exploration managers, and individuals pushing the boundaries of exploration. This post is for educational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice.