• First Lithium is closing in on a maiden lithium resource at the Blakala project in Mali
  • Met test work is under way with the final assays from first stage drilling at Blakala due in a week
  • FL1’s JORC resource announcement will come on the heels of the sale of Leo Lithium’s share in the world class Goulamina mine, valuing that project at $1.3bn


Special Report: As Mali becomes one of the world’s emerging hard rock lithium hotspots, First Lithium is well on the way to delivering a maiden JORC compliant resource, just the second after the country’s world class Goulamina deposit.

First Lithium (ASX:FL1) says metallurgical test work is progressing at its Blakala project ahead of a June 2024 maiden resource, where the final exploration samples from a phase 1 exploration drilling program are being analysed at a South African lab and the final assays expected to be released within a week.

The key here is working out the likely lithium concentrate recovery rates at Blakala, results that will be greatly anticipated by investors.

It comes just days after the announcement from Leo Lithium (ASX:LLL) that it had sold a 40% stake in Goulamina, a 500,000tpa spodumene mine due to begin exporting concentrate for EV chemicals in the September quarter, for US$342.7m to JV partner and lithium behemoth Ganfeng.

In Aussie dollar terms that’s almost $1.3 billion. That would likely have been more had the project not been held up by negotiations with the Malian Government that saw Leo pause trading in its shares.

Blakala is located just 100km to the south-east of Goulamina, which is comparable in size to WA’s monster Mt Holland and Kathleen Valley mines.


Second mover advantage

Second movers like First Lithium will now have a clearer pathway to understand the process around developing new lithium mines in Mali, with Goulamina to be the first spodumene concentrate exporter in all of Africa.

FL1 MD Venkatesh Padala said the company is well on track to providing a crucial maiden resource.

“With FL1’s maiden MRE expected in June along with pending assays and met results it is an exciting time for FL1,” he said.

“Exploration license renewals have been submitted and are due to be processed and further planned exploration work can commence on conclusion of the rights issue currently being undertaken.

“The sale of the neighbouring Leo Lithium asset also adds an interesting dynamic, with their project valued at over $1b. The next few months will be an interesting time for FL1.”


More drilling to come

There is little doubt that a maiden resource will only be start of a larger story at Blakala.

Assays to date have boasted impressive widths and grades, with the most recent drilling released in early April including a hit of 27.3m at 1.67% Li2O from 20.7m in the Eastern Pegmatite with 21m at 1.96% Li2O from 22m incorporated in that.

Strikes from the Western Pegmatite included 19m at 1.51% Li2O from 46m and 21m at 1.66% Li2O from 32m, with a bevy of other thick and high grade strikes from over 12,000m of diamond and RC drilling completed to date.

FL1 currently has a $3.2m rights issue ongoing at 22.5c a share, with $1.75m already committed by major shareholders in pre-commitments reported on April 30.

Once that’s done planning will begin for a phase 2 drilling program, which is expected to take place from the September quarter.

FL1 has appointed Pivot Mining Consultants to manage the met test work and resource estimation process.

“Pivot will also advise on all aspects of the proposed phase 2 drilling exploration project and reporting methods based on the pending MRE results for phase 1 of the project once received,” FL1 said.



This article was developed in collaboration with First Lithium, 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.