Disruptive battery technology developer Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) is planning a drilling campaign at its Youanmi project in Western Australia after field work confirmed the presence of lepidolite-bearing pegmatites.
Youanmi, located in WA’s Murchison region, is prospective for lithium and vanadium, with recent field reconnaissance and mapping identifying the pegmatites at surface over a strike length of 2.5 kilometres.
Providing further detail on the early stage work, Lithium Australia said the pegmatites occur at clusters, with individual pegmatite outcrops of up to 400 metres long and 50m wide on surface.
The pegmatites are strongly fractioned with the dominant lithium mineral being lepidolite, otherwise known as a lithium mica, with rock sampling yielding lithium values of up to 4.2% lithium oxide.
The lepidolite-bearing pegmatites cover a strike length of almost 3km, however the company believes the presence of lithium pegmatites is far more extensive than the few outcrops currently mapped.
Armed with the mapping data, in conjunction with information obtained from a recently completed high-resolution aerial survey, Lithium Australia will move towards defining drill targets for lithium mineralisation.
“The widespread occurrence of lepidolite in a location of outstanding infrastructure augurs well for the future of the Youanmi project,” company managing director Adrian Griffin said.
“We are planning on drilling both the lithium and vanadium occurrences in the near future.”
Youanmi lithium asset
Youanmi comprises three exploration licences, with previous preliminary exploration over the tenements including prospecting, data reviews, geological inspections and mapping, as well as rock chip sampling and surveying.
Lithium Australia has been undertaking field work at the project after it executed a binding heads of agreement with Diversity Resources to acquire full ownership last October.
Lithium Australia expressed plans to develop Youanmi into an additional feed source for its planned large-scale SiLeach pilot plant.
The company has already had some success with the plant, having clinched a world-first when it produced lithium-ion batteries from mine waste using its SiLeach proprietary process.
Lithium Australia asserts its proprietary technology eliminates the need for producing lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate, which can be the most cost-intensive and challenging part of developing lithium-ion batteries.
Strengthening the case for renewable energy
Last week, Lithium Australia announced it had identified a metallurgical process route which may provide security for the European renewable energy industry.
Following an investigation, the company surmised that by situating the SiLeach plant at its Sadisdorf lithium-tin project to treat locally available micas and converting the lithium chemicals produced to cathode powders, it could combine low capital intensity with high margins to reduce the European battery industry’s reliance on imported lithium-ion battery components.
Results of the investigation have now provided confidence and impetus for the company to commit to the next step towards commercialising operations at the Sadisdorf project, located in Germany.
Mr Griffin said Sadisdorf presented a “significant opportunity to advance an unconventional lithium resource to the status of a strategic asset”.
“The plan is to downstream-process via our proprietary VSPC technology to produce cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries,” he said.
“This has the potential to provide energy security within the European renewables sector.”
Sadisdorf contains an inferred resource of 25 million tonnes grading 0.45% lithium oxide.
With a preliminary feasibility study for Sadisdorf now approved, Lithium Australia will kick off formal planning activities next month.