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Lithium Universe adds key industry player to boardroom

Updated: Apr 30

Lithium Universe has appointed Patrick Scallan as non-executive director. Credit: File.

Newly-listed Lithium Universe’s promise to “build a lithium project in Canada as quick as we can” has been boosted by the appointment of experienced industry identity Patrick Scallan as non-executive director.

Mr Scallan brings to the table his experience of running the massive lithium hard-rock mine at Greenbushes for 25 years, taking its annual output from 200,000 tonnes in 1997 up to a whopping 1.4 million tonnes.

The company says Mr Scallan is a hard-rock mining specialist, who also has experience in spodumene concentrating and downstream relationships with major spodumene converters worldwide. As the long-time general manager of Talison Lithium, he oversaw many expansions of the company’s world-class Greenbushes Mine, increased the plant’s annual output and navigated several ownership changes during his tenure.

During his time at Greenbushes, Mr Scallan was also a shire councillor for nearly 20 years and was rewarded with the coveted Order of Australia Medal for his community and Local Government contribution. His previous roles include management positions at Capel and Eneabba Mineral Sands in Western Australia and Western Deep Levels Gold Mine in South Africa.

I am excited by the prospects of evaluating a vertically integrated mine to lithium refinery processing hub concept at James Bay. I see a real opportunity for LU7 to develop a value-added strategy in Québec that meets the Canadian government’s likely requirement for the downstream processing of lithium minerals. We have a pedigree of lithium experience in LU7 with a proven track record that can deliver on such a strategy. New Lithium Universe non-executive director Patrick Scallan.

The company’s chairman Iggy Tan said Mr Scallan’s lithium industry expertise, mixed with his long-built community relations experience, would be “vital” for the reimagined explorer’s operations.

With the downstream processing side of Lithium Universe stacked with talent and experience in lithium exploration, it has been busy acquiring ground to feed its “dream team”, with the ultimate goal of owning a vertically-integrated lithium mine and processing hub at James Bay.

Management says its short-term focus will now be to fast-track the exploration and associated development of its Apollo lithium project in the growing global lithium hotspot that is Canada’s James Bay. To date, Canada has seen plenty of investment in exploration but no lithium production.

The Apollo operation in the province of Quebec covers about 240 square kilometres and includes 466 claims. It is considered a greenfield project with limited historical exploration, although Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests has identified a total of 17 pegmatite outcrops on the property on topographic highs.

Lithium Universe says an exploration program will start with mapping, geochemical soil sampling and geophysical surveys of all 17 pegmatite outcrops and the north-east/south-west-trending topographic highs previously identified by the Québec government. Concurrently, an airborne geophysical and remote survey will be conducted to concentrate field works and provide high-priority drill targets for the maiden campaign.

The Apollo project area was staked early last year by a private owner with some excellent foresight. It is on the same trend as and adjacent to ground owned by Patriot Battery Metals and Winsome Resources – both of which have hit thick, shallow and high-grade coarse spodumene mineralisation during drilling.

About 29km to the north-west of Apollo, Patriot’s Corvette deposit, which is about 26sq km smaller than Apollo, holds an inferred resource of 109.2 million tonnes at 1.42 per cent lithium oxide and 160 parts per million tantalum oxide. Drilling at the site has returned some impressive hits including 156m at 2.12 per cent lithium oxide. Of note, Patriot has a market cap of about $1.3 billion.

Winsome has its Adina deposit about 28km east of Apollo, where it has returned best drill results of 107m grading 1.34 per cent lithium oxide from just 2.3m depth. Winsome Resources has a market cap of about $231 million.

Lithium Universe management says the spodumene at Patriot and Winsome’s deposits is “coarse spodumene” suitable for a simple processing flowsheet involving crushing and dense heavy medium separation (DMS), to produce lithium oxide concentrate at about 5.5 per cent.

The lithium carbonate price has pulled back this year following the record highs of November last year due largely to a drop in demand from China’s electric vehicle (EV) market. That appears to have been caused by the Chinese Government’s decision to end cash subsidies for households purchasing EVs, resulting in high battery inventories, forcing vendors to sell at discounts and lowering the demand for spodumene.

With the EV market in North America projected to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.1 per cent to hit an eye watering $354 billion by 2030, companies with producing Canadian lithium assets may well be in the box seat.

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