Junior lithium explorer and cutting-edge lithium extraction technology developer Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has announced encouraging preliminary results from its first drilling campaign at the Sadisdorf tin deposit in Germany.
Today’s results published by the Australian explorer represent the first drill program done at the project for nearly 30 years with an intercept including 32.19 metres of continuous lithium mineralisation at 0.52% lithium.
Lithium Australia first acquired the project in May last year, to be developed as part of a joint-venture with Tin International, a subsidiary of German resources investment firm Deutsche Rohstoff.
The German powerhouse also has substantial holdings in other resources projects around the world including a 93% holding in the Elster Oil & Gas in Colorado, USA and a 66% stake in a rare earths project in South America.
At Sadisdorf, Tin International and Lithium Australia are working in tandem to establish a source of high-grade lithium supply into Europe. The emergent lithium developer is keen to progress both its physical lithium exploration and its proprietary SiLeach extraction technology that is capable of converting waste tailings from existing mining operations into battery-grade lithium.
The SiLeach process is still in development but early signs have shown it is able to create high-grade lithium carbonate at very low cost and using much less energy than conventional ‘roasting’ which is the currently preferred method of extracting lithium from hard rock micas.
Lithium abundance ahead
The overarching plan is to utilise its SiLeach hydrometallurgical lithium processing technology to harness the high-grade lithium value locked up in historical tin polymetallic deposits such as Sadisdorf.
The Australian explorer intends to recover lithium from the residues of conventional tin concentration processes and says that Sadisdorf’s location in Saxony places it in an ideal location to supply the European battery and electric vehicle market.
However, not resting on its technology only, Lithium Australia is also conducting traditional exploration to ensure it has sufficient material to process.
Sadisdorf already has a maiden inferred mineral resource estimate of 25 million tonnes at 0.45% Li2O, first announced back in December last year.
From the drill hole information available, Lithium Australia says geological logging indicates “conformity” compared to historic logs but adds that “a final evaluation of the drill program compared to historical data will follow after receipt of all assays from the drilling programme”.
The explorer intends to conduct further test work in the near term with full assay results from the remaining two drill holes expected shortly.
The explorer also adds that high grade intercepts it has encountered so far, “support the approach of treating Sadisdorf as a polymetallic lithium-tin bearing greisen system”.
Confirmation of historic tin mineralisation at Sadisdorf is significant in the context of long-term improving tin prices given that tin is now regarded as a strategic technology metal.
Tin prices have experienced consistent appreciation over the past two decades, rising from around US$4 per pound in 2009 to around US$10 per pound today.
“The mineralisation encountered in the first drill hole strongly supports our vision of unlocking the value of the historic tin-tungsten Sadisdorf mine by adding lithium as an additional value driver, at a location in close geographical proximity to emerging European new era battery markets,” said Mr Adrian Griffin, managing director of Lithium Australia.
“Our SiLeach processing technology is ideally suited for processing Sadisdorf’s greisen-style poly-metallic mineralisation which contains abundant lithium micas. With tin increasingly regarded as a strategic technology metal, the tin assays encountered also confirm our view of the potential of Sadisdorf as a significant polymetallic deposit,” said Mr Griffin.