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Future Battery Minerals inks in lithium testwork partner

Updated: Apr 19

Future Battery Minerals is working hard to join the green energy revolution. Credit: File.

Future Battery Minerals is set to kick off metallurgical testwork on spodumene-bearing core from its latest diamond drilling campaign at its Kangaroo Hills project in Western Australia’s Goldfields region.

Management says the work will help define the amenability for recovery through conventional methods such as dense media separation and froth flotation.

The company has appointed Minsol Engineering to undertake the metallurgy studies in conjunction with the mineralogical testwork, which will include core scanning. It is hoped the effort will result in a greater understanding of the characteristics and processing requirements of the mineralised pegmatite, in addition to recovery potential.

Given the continued flow of positive results from our RC drilling campaign, we believe the timing is now right to begin early metallurgical testing activities. We hope these results will provide confirmation of the amenability of the diamond core to conventional lithium processing techniques, as well as additional mineralogy and characterisation data, which will be invaluable to our ongoing exploration activities. Future Battery Minerals technical director Robin Cox

The company revealed it had hit multiple near-surface spodumene-bearing pegmatites at its Kangaroo Hills project earlier this week, with widths of up to 23.8m from its most recent diamond drilling campaign.

Management says visual spodumene was identified from core as part of a five-hole diamond drilling program that targeted an area of high-grade lithium uncovered during previous exploration. It has already kicked off the planning and permitting process for a new phase-three reverse circulation (RC) drilling program as it looks for strike extensions while it also probes other regional targets.

The Kangaroo Hills lithium project is an 80-20 joint venture between Future Battery Minerals and Lodestar Resources and sits about 17km south of Coolgardie. Phase-two exploration at the site was launched early last month, with 2500m of RC drilling and 500m of diamond drilling planned.

Formerly known as Auroch Minerals before a name change in March this year, Future Battery Minerals is building an impressive portfolio with a focus on minerals critical to present and future battery needs.

The company’s flagship Saints nickel sulphide project sits 70km north of Kalgoorlie and hosts a high-grade komatiite nickel sulphide deposit. Last year, the company completed resource drilling and mineral resource estimates to upgrade to a JORC 2012-compliant 911,000 tonnes at 2.3 per cent nickel, 0.17 per cent copper and 0.07 per cent cobalt for 21,000 tonnes of nickel, 1500 tonnes of copper and 600 tonnes of cobalt.

The resource Is mainly in the indicated category, with a scoping study into the viability of an underground mining operation set to lead to an ongoing pre-feasibility study and further exploration at the site.

Saints comprises two mining leases covering an area of about 20 square kilometres of prospective Archaean greenstone belt geology within the Eastern Goldfields province of the Yilgarn Craton. The operation sits in the same sequence of rocks as the historical Scotia nickel mine that produced 30,800 tonnes of contained nickel at 2.2 per cent nickel before closing in 1977.

Future Battery Minerals’ portfolio also includes an 80 per cent share in the Nepean nickel project, with Lodestar controlling the remaining 20 per cent. The site, also near Coolgardie, contains the historic high-grade Nepean nickel sulphide mine that produced more than a million tonnes of ore between 1970 and 1987 for 32,202 tonnes of nickel metal at an average recovered grade of 2.99 per cent.

In March, the company also completed its maiden drill program at its 80 per cent-owned Nevada lithium project in the United States. It has identified five key prospects, with its Traction, San Antone, Heller, Lone Mountain and Western Flats targets within 90sq km of tenements.

It also holds 100 per cent of highly-prospective exploration ground at the Leinster nickel project in WA, in addition to 90 per cent interests in the Arden, Bonaventura and Torrens base metals projects in South Australia. The company is continuing to explore these projects with the aim of discovering significant mineralisation.

The market chatter this week has been that lithium prices are set to extend their recovery from a brutal sell-off of as much as 70 per cent as demand outstrips weaker-than-expected lithium supply growth, driven by the growing take-up of electric vehicles (no pun intended).

The recent journey north for lithium prices follows a moribund five-month period during which China curbed electric vehicle subsidies – a play that led to faltering demand and rising inventories.

Now those inventories are again decreasing, many commentators including Mineral Resources’ boss Chris Ellison, believe lithium markets have bottomed out and reached a turning point.

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