Junior metals explorer Nova Minerals (ASX: NVA) has confirmed subsidiary company Snow Lake Resources will commence a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of the Thompson Brothers lithium project in Canada.
The assessment is expected to be completed in the coming months and will be expanded into a preliminary feasibility study to seek funding for the project’s commercial development.
Studies will review the project’s test work, preliminary and process design, vendor furnished equipment packages and cost estimates for the development of a spodumene flotation plant.
Permitting and potential environmental issues for proposed plant locations will also be explored, while operational and capital expenditure will be inputted into a general economic model.
Snow Lake Resources will also commence a re-evaluation of extensive drilling and technical data collected over the past 50 years at Thompson Brothers (previously known as the Viola Pegmatite Zone).
The interpretation will be done in the context of considerable project knowledge gained by the company and highlights “excellent potential” to update the current reported resource before the PEA is finalised.
That resource sits at 6.3 million tonnes grading 1.3% lithium oxide for 86,940 tonnes of lithium oxide using a 0.6% lithium oxide cut-off grade.
Lowering the cut-off grade to add additional tonnes will also be investigated during the data re-evaluation process.
Lithium price hike
Nova chief executive officer Christopher Gerteisen said the company had been maintaining the Thompson Brothers project for an expected hike in lithium prices.
“Depressed lithium prices and a continued slowdown in the lithium market [have allowed us to maintain the project] to be development ready in anticipation of the electric car revolution,” he told shareholders.
“Lithium prices have since seen a significant uptick, with Tesla’s share price hitting record highs and the Biden administration expected to incentivise a transition to [electric vehicles] in the US.
“Hence, the market has seen a number of premium valuations made for lithium companies.”
The expected turnaround has seen Snow Lake Resources (in which Nova has a 74% stake) make moves towards a public listing in the US.
“The separate listing would leave the [Thompson Brothers] project with a strong balance sheet without further dilution to Nova shareholders, while [Nova] can ride the upside as the project develops,” Mr Gerteisen said.
Nova also disclosed plans to grow the flagship Estelle gold project in Alaska’s Tintina gold belt over the next 12 months by moving the main Korbel prospect into production.
The company aims to complete a drilling program and maiden resource estimate at the promising RPM target to add “serious depth” to the project by increasing the total resource inventory and opening up a second deposit for development.
“Approximately 20 kilometres of highly-prospective strike length separates Korbel and RPM, and is paved with 15 known prospects and numerous unnamed gold showings,” Mr Gerteisen said.
“The geological fundamentals indicate that Estelle contains great exploration upside potential which will be demonstrated by the results of our ongoing aggressive work program over the coming year.”
Nova has its eye on becoming the next low-cost gold producer in Alaska while growing gold resources through continued development of known prospects and further discoveries.
“Exciting times lie ahead as we continue our mission to unlock the [potential of this] district,” Mr Gerteisen added.