What would take a geologist from the green Hunter Valley to the wilds of North Queensland? Lithium, that’s what.
The only viable lithium reserve identified on the east coast of Australia so far is south-west of Cairns near Forsayth.
Strategic Metals Australia (SMA) has tenements in the area they say mirror some of the low grade-high volume deposits in other parts of the world.
Brad Crighton is SMA director of exploration and a University of Newcastle product who spent five years working in the Hunter Valley coalfields followed by 12 years in Queensland.
He moved north, married a Townsville girl and helped start SMA in 2013.
SMA played the lithium hand close to their chest before presenting at this year’s Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Lithium Conference in Perth.
SMA has completed regional watercourse and rock chip sampling over a 314sq km area and identified multiple lithium, tantalum, tin and tungsten anomalies and completed detailed drill analysis of several mineralised pegmatites.
They now needed to start drilling and were looking for a partner to help fund this next stage of the operation, Mr Crighton said.
“Up to this point, it’s all been blood and sweat equity. Now, the beast is too big,” he said.
“We need someone to help finance us so we can get in there and do the hard yards to drill and prove up a larger volume.
“Now that we’ve actually presented at the lithium conference, we are now a known entity and we’re hoping that that will help bring in investors.”
SMA has impeccable timing with the global emergence of electric vehicles, a proposal for a battery factory in Townsville put forward by Imperium 3 Corporation and the potential for disrupted international supply.
The Forsayth deposit had form, he said.
“We drilled 24 holes in 2016 and we’ve just drilled some of the smaller pegmatites. We’ve got a really good understanding of the type of pegmatites they are, (including) the zonation and the minerology.”
“Three of the pegmatites we drilled we got a JORC inferred mineral resource of about a hundred thousand tonnes, … the potential is there we’ve identified hundreds of pegmatites, 70 of those are showing signs of mineralization.
“SMA has also identified a style of mineralisation similar to large world class deposits such as Cinovec in the Czech Republic described as containing 372mt at 0.4 per cent lithium oxide, owned by European Metals, and San Jose located in Spain owned by the Infinity Lithium Corporation coming in at 112mt at 0.61 per cent lithium oxide.
“That compares well with the potential of SMA’s tenements that indicate a very large volume of low-grade mineralisation is present. The discovery opens up the potential for Queensland to become a significant miner and processor of lithium salts for battery manufacture.”
SMA has the backing of several experienced companies Nagrom Laboratories in WA and Geological Solutions & Deepcore Drilling in QLD. They have a great culture, utilise local contractors from Georgetown and Forsayth area where possible and have a good relationship with the Department of Natural Resources & Mines, Etheridge Shire Council and Landholders.