Allkem’s James Bay project now one of largest spodumene lithium assets in world

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By Colin Hay - 
Allkem ASX AKE James Bay lithium spodumene Quebec Canada

Allkem (ASX: AKE) has unveiled a 173% increase in an updated mineral resource estimate (MRE) for its promising James Bay lithium project in Québec, Canada.

Managing director and chief executive officer, Martin Perez de Solay, said the resource update has lifted the James Bay project to a significant position in a “red hot” lithium exploration play.

“James Bay is now one of the largest spodumene lithium assets and clearly has the potential to grow even further as the boundaries of mineralisation are tested through an additional drilling program commencing later in the year,” he said.

“The size and grade of this resource is amongst the best in the world and will underpin Allkem plans for future production and processing of lithium in Québec.”

Significant additional tonnage

The new mineral resource estimate identified 110.2 million tonnes at 1.30% lithium oxide (Li2O), including an indicated category of 54.3 million tonnes at 1.30% Li2O along with 55.9 million tonnes at 1.29% Li2O in the inferred category.

Mr Perez de Solay noted that the maiden inferred mineral resource in the NW Sector at James Bay remains open along strike and at depth with excellent growth potential.

The company is currently planning to follow-up that upside with a significant campaign of infill and extensional drilling to be undertaken during the Canadian winter to test along-strike and down-dip extensions of the pegmatite dykes beyond the area included in the latest resource estimate.

Mineral resource estimate background

The results utilised to compile the updated mineral resource estimate was accessed from two drilling campaigns conducted on the project since early 2022.

Those programs added approximately 37,500m of delineation drilling to the deposit since the release of the previous feasibility study.

The pegmatite dykes have been classified based on a 40m to 50m spacing for indicated mineral resources and approximately an 80m spacing for the inferred mineral resources.

New drilling campaign set for November kick-off

Allkem is currently planning a new drilling campaign which will kick-off in mid-November to expand on the updated resource. The drilling program will include infill drilling in the NW Sector to convert mineral resources currently in the inferred category to the indicated category.

Allkem is also aiming to convert any blocks of inferred category within the new pit shell to the indicated category with infill drilling at depth.

The company will also test the project’s upside with step-out exploration drilling to the north-west with the objective of discovering new pegmatites beneath thin glacial overburden.

Australian resource upgrade

In early August, Allkem released an ore reserve update for its Mt Cattlin lithium operation in Western Australia.

The new Mt Cattlin figures included a total ore reserve of 7.1 million tonnes at 1.2% lithium oxide.

The mineral resource update reflected the project’s depletion due to mining since 31 Dec 2022 and modest increases due to adjustment to cut-off grade (0.3%).

The results of the new ore reserve and the company’s planned mining schedule suggests a projected life-of-mine for the next 4-5 years (2027-2028) via open pit mining methods.

New results with be included in the production of a Mt Cattlin underground feasibility study, which is expected to be delivered in CY24.