Battery and critical metals explorer and developer Pan Asia Metals (ASX: PAM) has added five new lithium-tin exploration block opportunities to its Kata Thong project in the Phang Nga Province of southwest Thailand.
The special prospecting licence applications (or SPLAs) for highly-prospective hard-rock lithium and tin deposits are the first in a series of targets the company has been working to secure since last year.
They are focused on a part of the southeast Asian tin-tungsten belt which has granites with high lithium background levels and is geothermally active.
Pan Asia hopes to develop the new blocks into low-cost, low-carbon emission projects with potential to deliver value-added, battery-grade products into Asia’s emerging electric vehicle and lithium-ion markets.
Two of the SPLAs contain geothermal fields and one of these abuts the lithium-rich Khao Kata Khwam granite batholith, which is a 145 square kilometre granite intrusion with historic rock-chip assays of up to 2,700 parts per million lithium oxide.
Four of the SPLAs are highly prospective for lepidolite-style lithium and tin, with Pan Asia’s stream sediment assays returning strong lithium oxide anomalism associated with tin and other pathfinders such as rubidium and tantalum.
Each SPLA will be prepared for final approvals by the Department of Primary Industry and Mines.
Upon receipt of the licences, Pan Asia will partner with universities in Thailand which have local geothermal expertise to assist with the design of exploration programs assessing the lithium and power generation potential of the project area.
Work will include data collation, surface water sampling and conceptual geo-hydrology modelling of the system.
Reung Kiet lithium
The five SPLAs at Kata Thong are located approximately 35km north-northeast of Pan Asia’s emerging Reung Kiet lithium project and 50km southwest of the government-owned 240 megawatt Rajjaprabha hydro-electric power station.
Pan Asia aims to establish a Phase one plant at Reung Kiet, capable of producing up to 10,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate or hydroxide.
The Kata Thong applications could potentially double this volume.
Pan Asia managing director Paul Lock said Kata Thong licences could be transformative for the company, positioning it as a zero carbon emitter due to the geothermal energy opportunities and the nearby power station.
“Over the past decade, vehicle manufacturers have been increasingly focused on their supply chain carbon footprints to meet market expectations and increase the credibility of their electric vehicle offering,” it said.
“We believe this will create a division in the market, with low to zero carbon lithium products attracting a premium [so] having the potential to produce low carbon footprint lithium products via lepidolite mining and hydro processing places us at an advantage.”
The Kata Thong area has a history of tin production dating back to the 16th century.
The Phuket-Phang Nga-Takua Pa tin field recorded production of at least 400,000t of tin in concentrates from 1961 to 1990, with ilmenite, monazite, coulmbite-tantalite, zircon and wolframite the most common by-products.
Lepidolite (lithium mica) also became a by-product at some mines.
Little modern exploration has been undertaken in the region, especially for primary hard-rock deposits.
Assessments of the geothermal potential in parts of the project area have been assessed since the late 1970s.