MetalsTech alliance – Quebec, Canada
MetalsTech Ltd (‘MTC’), an Australian headquartered, Canadian focused explorer, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in February 2017. Lithium Australia NL (‘LIT’) has formed a partnership with MTC that provides it with significant equity and technological leverage across six highly prospective hard-rock lithium projects in Quebec. Additionally, potential exists for a lucrative licensing structure for LIT’s disruptive lithium-processing technologies.
MTC’s standout asset is the Cancet lithium project, which contains an Exploration Target estimated as being in the range of 15 Mt to 25 Mt @ 1.0% to 2.0% Li2O and 100 ppm to 250 ppm Ta2O5.
Metallurgical investigations indicate that the Cancet project hosts a clean pegmatite with low iron oxide in assayed drill samples (0.5% to 0.8% FE2O3), and that it has the potential to produce a high-purity, coarse-grain spodumene concentrate. Initial results suggest that the product suite will meet and exceed grade requirements for the battery market.
Final representative metallurgical testing results for composite split drill core (expected soon) will underpin offtake and strategic partnership discussions.
Strategic partnership agreement – key terms
Under the strategic partnership agreement, MTC will have the exclusive right to apply LIT’s proprietary lithium extraction/processing technologies to spodumene concentrate from lithium projects within Quebec.
Pursuant to the partnership, LIT will:
- be issued 2,000,000 fully paid shares in MTC;
- be issued with up to a further 4,000,000 MTC shares and 3,000,000 MTC options, subject to various bench-scale testing, pilot-plant testing, feasibility, offtake, plant construction and production performance milestones, and
- receive a 2% gross revenue royalty on any products (including lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide) produced by MTC using LIT’s proprietary lithium extraction technologies.
MTC controls a developing portfolio of early-stage, hard-rock exploration projects in Quebec that are prospective for lithium hosted in spodumene-bearing pegmatites (see Figure 1). All boast excellent infrastructure, with access to some of the cheapest and cleanest power globally, courtesy of Quebec hydro-power.
MTC’s lithium projects are as follows.
- The Wells-Lacourciere lithium project, located close to the Quebec Lithium Mine owned by Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co., Ltd. The latter mine contains a Measured and Indicated resource of 33.24 Mt at 1.19% lithium oxide (‘Li2O’) and an Inferred resource of 13.76 Mt at 1.21% Li2O (nickel 43-101 compliant), and recently assayed an extraordinary 7.0% Li2O from surface, including bulk samples of 2.87% to 4.0% Li2O.
- The Kapiwak lithium project, located less than 4 km south of the Cyr Lithium Deposit (also known as the James Bay Lithium Deposit) owned by Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY), which hosts 22.2 Mt grading 1.28% Li2O.
- The Cancet lithium project, the most advanced asset in the MTC stable, which has been the focus of exploration activities during the past year.
- The Terre des Montagnes project (formerly known as Whabouchi East), contiguous with and along strike to the Whabouchi deposit of Nemaska Lithium Inc. (TSX: NMX), which has a reported nickel 43-101 Measured, Indicated and Inferred resource of 37.6 Mt @ 1.56% Li2O (12.98 Mt @ 1.6% Li2O Measured; 14.99 Mt @ 1.54% Li2O Indicated; 4.69 Mt @ 1.51% Li2O Inferred). MTC announced in November 2017 that it had moved to full and unencumbered ownership of the project.
- The Adina lithium project, which was explored in 2016 and returned grades of up to 3.12% Li2O from surface. Drilling is planned for 2018.
- The Sirmac-Clapier project, located along the mineralised trend between the Sirmac deposit grading 2.04% Li2O and the Lac Clapier Nord surface occurrence.
Following extensive field work during 2017, which included some 5,600 metres of diamond core drilling, an Exploration Target at the Cancet lithium project has been estimated as being in the range of 15 Mt to 25 Mt @ 1.0% to 2.0% Li2O and 100 ppm to 250 ppm Ta2O5.
The Cancet spodumene pegmatite deposit outcrops extensively at surface. MTC has defined a 1.2-km mineralised strike on the main pegmatite (see Figure 2) and recently discovered an additional pegmatite outcrop 1.0 km east of the main drilling zone. The body remains open along strike and recent drilling suggests that strike extensions may continue beneath shallow soil cover, with potential for linkage between the main drilling zone and the newly discovered pegmatite outcrop.
Significant exploration potential exists both within the broader Cancet area and beyond MTC’s owned tenure. In November 2017, MTC announced that it had expanded its landholding at Cancet and several potential prospects have already been defined for further evaluation. While MTC is excited about the potential for more discoveries in those areas, they are not included in the current Exploration Target estimate.
A magnetic survey MTC completed recently shows potential for a doubling of length of the mineralised strike at Cancet, as well as the possibility of a parallel structure to the north. In addition, the possibility of an extension to the east, at the recently discovered pegmatite outcrop, remains. The new zone to the east also holds potential to be drilled both on strike and at depth, to provide tonnage beyond the presently stated Exploration Target.
Resource definition drilling planned for mid-2018 is designed to extend the strike of the mineralised pegmatite zone, further define the mineralisation at depth, and drill-test other targets identified through the magnetic survey.
Longer term, MTC has stated its ambition to be ‘deal ready’ by 2018 with respect to a strategic financing plan for Cancet.
In May 2017, MTC announced outstanding results from the completion of preliminary mineralogy profiling of samples from the Cancet project. Initial metallurgical testing of a 5-kg outcrop sample confirmed high-grade spodumene in the pegmatite ore body. A concentrate with a grade of 6.24% Li2O was produced from a 10 mm crush, indicating that simple, low-cost DMS (Dense Media Separation, or gravity separation) will recover 77% of the lithium in 13% of the mass. DMS removed 80% of the mass feed at 2.7 SG (specific gravity), indicating very high recovery at a coarse crush size. This simple processing is indicative of a significantly lower capital and operating cost profile, as well as a shorter commissioning time when compared with other projects.
A 100-kg parcel of split core samples from the June 2017 drilling programme was shipped to NAGROM Laboratories in Perth. Results confirmed earlier metallurgical tests demonstrating that the Cancet project hosts a clean pegmatite with low iron oxide in assayed drill samples (0.5% to 0.8% FE2O3) and has the potential to produce a high-purity, coarse-grain, premium spodumene concentrate. Initial results suggest the product suite will meet and exceed grade requirements for the battery market.
Final representative metallurgical testing results for composite split drill core are expected in the near future and will underpin offtake and strategic partner discussions.