Eye on Lithium: Cashed-up Pentagon asks to fund critical minerals projects in Australia, UK
All your ASX lithium news for Tuesday, May 17.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has urged Congress to amend the Defense Production Act to allow the Pentagon to fund projects in the U.K. and Australia that focus on critical minerals used for electric vehicles and weapons.
In late March President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to boost production of critical minerals and reduce reliance on China.
But the funds are only eligible for projects in the U.S. and Canada, and they can only be used for buying processing equipment, conducting feasibility studies and upgrading existing facilities, not for developing new mines.
So last week the DoD directly asked the Pentagon to make projects in Australia and the UK eligible for funding.
“[It would] allow the U.S. government to leverage the resources of its closest allies to enrich U.S. manufacturing and industrial base capabilities and increase the nation’s advantage in an environment of great competition,” the department said in its request to Congress.
The request is part of the Pentagon’s recommendations to Congress for the upcoming U.S. military funding bill – the National Defense Authorization Act – which will be finalised in late 2022.
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A total of 68 stocks were in the green today, with 35 flatlining and only 18 in the red.
The company has found more visual spodumene at its Mavis Lake project in Canada, with 12 out of 13 step-out holes intersecting spodumene-bearing pegmatite mineralisation – including a 23.1 metre interval estimated at 32% spodumene.
Samples have been sent for analysis, and work has now commenced to extend drilling to a ~10,000m program as the company works towards a JORC compliant resource.
strike and importantly a step out hole is significant for the Project and very exciting.
“The high-grade visual estimates are particularly intriguing and we’re seeing the fundamentals of Mavis Lake improving all the time,” MD Alex Biggs says.
The company has released an update around the development of its Finniss project in the NT, namely that earthworks for the DMS plant are nearing completion with that area of the site to be handed over to Primero Group at the end of the week.
The DMS plant will process the crushed ore from the Grants open pit to make spodumene concentrate, which will be ready for export.
The Grants open pit will be the initial source of ore until BP33 and other mines are bought online, and the additional excavator expected io arrive at the end of this month should accelerate the rate of mining at Grants Stage 1.
“Core staff and contractors have done a great job getting the site ready for CSI and Primero and with the new mining equipment on site we are in a position to significantly ramp up activities at Finniss,” MD Stephen Biggins said.
In the coming weeks, Core intends to lodge a Mining Management Plan (MMP) to the Department of Industry, Tourism & Trade (DITT) for assessment.
Latin has secured yet more land in Brazil, expanding its Salinas project with the Lajinha tenement – which covers 470 hectares over highly prospective stratigraphy, with known outcropping spodumene occurrences.
“Our preliminary reconnaissance mapping and outcrop sampling of this area has confirmed the presence of spodumene pegmatites,” MD Chris Gale said.
“Our regional mapping team will now complete a more systematic survey to better understand the extent of the known pegmatite system and select initial drill sites.”
The company has executed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to enter an Earn-in Option Agreement (EOA) for a 60% project interest in Lithium Corporation’s North Big Smoky (NBS) Project in Nevada, USA.
The company says its expanded lithium asset base in the state allows for development synergies across closely located projects, and CEO Alex Cheeseman said the idea is to follow a similar path of evaluating and advancing the project like the company’s Fish Lake Valley project.
“The Morella team can now put their proven lithium project development skills to work to create value in the Project from the ground up,” he said.
“Like Fish Lake Valley, this project is in an enviable, Tier 1 exploration and mining jurisdiction, with access to infrastructure, workforce and an ever-growing, downstream lithium market increasingly focused on localised supply.”
PLS and project partner Calix (ASX:CXL), has been awarded a $20 million grant to be used as part of a joint venture for the progression of a demonstration-scale chemicals facility at the Pilgangoora Project.
Grant funding was received from the Australian Government under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) to assist the Mid-Stream Project in producing lithium salts for global distribution through an innovative midstream refining process.
The objective of the project is to deliver a “superior” lithium raw material that “outperforms across key metrics of product cost, quality, carbon energy reduction and waste reduction/handling.”
MD and CEO Ken Brinsden said the grant funding represents key backing for technology that the company believes to represent a giant leap forward for the hard-rock lithium raw material supply chain.
“The Mid-Stream Project is expected to facilitate waste minimisation in key end-use markets, which decarbonises the hard-rock lithium supply chain and creates competitive ‘value-added’ products that can serve global markets directly,” he said.
CXL managing director echoed this sentiment, stating this “world-first project” aims to develop a “low carbon process for lithium salt production in a rapidly growing market increasingly demanding more sustainable practices.”
Pilbara Minerals and Calix are advancing negotiations relating to the joint venture, with a target to sign in early Q3, 2022.