Special Report: President-elect Joe Biden wants the US to become a global clean energy superpower, in part by boosting domestic production of battery metals. Hawkstone (ASX:HWK) is well placed to capitalise on this dynamic shift in Federal policy.

It’s an exciting time to be a US-based lithium play.

With prices poised for a rebound more generally, Biden’s campaign has privately stated to US miners that he will support boosting domestic production of critical metals used to make electric vehicles, solar panels and other products crucial to his ‘zero emissions by 2050’ climate plan.

Hawkstone’s shallow, easy-to-mine Big Sandy deposit — an 11km-long, sedimentary-hosted lithium horizon which runs from surface to a depth of ~90m— is strategically located along the so-called ‘US Battery Corridor’.

Drilling in 2019 defined a resource of 32.5 million tonnes (mt) grading 1,850 parts per million (ppm) lithium for 320,800 tonnes of Li2CO33.

This represents just 4 per cent of a project area that contains an estimated 271.1Mt to 483.15Mt at 1,000 to 2,000ppm lithium.

Work at Big Sandy in 2020 has been focused on baseline engineering studies, establishing local contacts and obtaining the required permits for drilling and bulk sampling while waiting for the awakening of the lithium market.

That time has now arrived, says Hawkstone managing director Paul Lloyd.

“[That includes] a dynamic shift in US Federal policies; Tesla building a new Gigafactory at Austin Texas and announcing its intent to develop US sedimentary resources; VW shifting the majority of its production to EVs including an entire production line in Chattanooga, Tennessee; and battery storage — coupled with wind and solar — displacing coal and gas generation with countries around the world mandating the end of the ICE (internal combustion engine) age,” he says.

“With this paradigm shift in the energy/transport sectors, the company is pleased to announce the engagement of Hazen Research to commence bench scale testing of the Big Sandy lithium mineralisation, with the aim of producing battery-grade 99.8 per cent Li2CO33 and, in the process, developing a preliminary process flow sheet.”


Met test work on Big Sandy

Previous test work demonstrated the lithium-bearing sedimentary material at Big Sandy to be readily recoverable via a simple (and cost effective) acid leaching and hydrometallurgical chemical process that has minimal air emissions.

Hawkstone has now appointed Hazen Research to complete metallurgical test work on the lithium-mineralised material from the Big Sandy Project, with the objective of producing battery-grade 99.8 per cent Li2CO3.

This test work will be used to develop a feasible and economic processing route leading to pilot scale testing, which is a smaller version of a real processing plant.

Preliminary engineering studies have also kicked off. Hawkstone’s Phoenix-based engineer will assess process routes, supply chain optimisation, possible mining and processing scenarios, as well as establishing contacts within the local, State and Federal governments.

Baseline environmental and cultural surveys forming part of the Plan of Exploration (POE) process have now been completed.

The POE will enable further drilling to extend the known resource to the north and south.

This article was developed in collaboration with Hawkstone, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.