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Gina Rinehart pumps $2.65m into Future Battery project

Updated: Apr 19

Future Battery Minerals’ recent $7.6 million placement was oversubscribed. Credit: File

Future Battery Minerals has received the backing of Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart in its recent $7.6 million placement after her company Hancock Prospecting agreed to become a cornerstone investor.

Hancock has committed to invest $2.65 million across two tranches in the oversubscribed placement, which Future Battery says validates its highly-prospective lithium projects in Kangaroo Hills and its Nevada operation. Management says it plans to use the funds to accelerate its exploration drilling programs at Kangaroo Hills, where its latest campaign has hit spodumene-bearing pegmatites at its Big Red and Rocky prospects.

Today’s revelation saw Future Battery’s shares soar almost 35 per cent to touch 15.5 cents during intraday trading after closing at 11.5c yesterday – a telling result given the negative effect placements often have on share prices.

Future Battery says the new money will also be used to advance a third-phase drill program at Nevada, which is set to kick off this month.

Hancock Prospecting has made some major recent moves in the lithium industry, making headlines just this week when it took a 7.7 per cent interest in Liontown Resources. It also owns shares in Delta Lithium and Vulcan Energy Resources.

Future Battery believes early observations of the shallow pegmatites at the Big Red and the Rocky prospects can draw analogies to Liontown’s Kathleen Valley lithium project during its early exploration phase in 2019, before its discovery of deeper, thick-source pegmatites.

We are extremely pleased with the strong support received from both new and existing professional, sophisticated and institutional investors, and we welcome Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd to our register. The strongly oversubscribed Placement not only confirms the quality of our projects but is also validation to the experience and track record of our dedicated teams in WA and Nevada. Future Battery Minerals executive chairman Mike Edwards

The company is not the only one searching for lithium in the area around Kangaroo Hill. Mineral Resources operates a mine 30km to the east of the site at Mount Marion, which boasts an impressive mineral resource of 60.5 million tonnes at 1.36 per cent lithium oxide.

Another neighbour, Widgie Nickel, is sitting on shallow 481,000 tonnes at 0.59 per cent lithium oxide at its Faraday deposit, with a high-grade core of 106,000 tonnes at 0.87 per cent lithium oxide, about 50km to the south-east. Alliance Mineral Assets has about 26.5 million tonnes at 1 per cent lithium, about 100km south-east of Kangaroo Hills.

Management says it is pursuing permitting and drilling at its Nevada lithium project in the United States, which it expects to kick off this month. It consists of five key prospects through some 90 square kilometres of lithium country next to the Tesla gigafactory, among some big US lithium players.

In June last year, Future Battery acquired an 80 per cent share in the Nevada operation from the shareholders of Nevada Australia, who retain the remaining 20 per cent interest.

The project is also in prime lithium real estate, with several big sedimentary-hosted deposits calling the area home. They include Ioneer Resources’ Rhyolite Ridge and American Lithium Corporation’s TLC lithium project. Albemarle’s Silver Peak operation, which is currently the only producing lithium mine in North America, lies about 45km to the west of the Nevada project.

A third-phase reverse-circulation (RC) and diamond drilling campaign is set to begin at Nevada’s Lone Mountain prospect later this month, with a maiden mineral resource for the target expected early next year.

With plenty of cash to splash at its upcoming exploration programs and the backing of Australia’s richest person, Future Battery is forging ahead in leaps and bounds.

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