• There will be a 26,000t LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent) shortfall in 2022: Benchmark
  • Metals Australia kicks off Manindi project drilling
  • Matsa nabs 65 licence applications just up the road from lithium explorer Pan Asia in Thailand
  • Lithium Energy secures EIA approval to begin exploration at Argentinean project

All the ASX lithium news for Monday February 7.


Benchmark Mineral Intelligence says there’s likely to be a lithium supply shortfall of around 26,000 tonnes of LCE this year, with labour shortages and border closures exacerbating the lack of new supply.

Prices are up more than 25% this year already. Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate prices have risen by 479% over the past 12 months to a record high average of RMB 348,500 a tonne ($54,725).

That means that automakers are passing costs on to their customers.

The lack of investment in new projects over the last few years, along with covid causing logistical issues, are likely to limit output growth this year – and the question remains, where will new supply come from?


Here are the ASX lithium explorers with news out today:

Metals Australia (ASX:MLS)

The company has mobilised a rig to start a ~3,500mRC drilling program testing key lithium-tantalum-caesium (LCT) pegmatites at its ‘Manindi’ project in WA.

It will be the first drilling of the Foundation pegmatite, which was discovered when recent rockchip sampling returned 1.25% Li2O, 126.0 ppm Ta205 and 154.6 ppm Cs2O.

The company previously completed shallow RC percussion drilling where preliminary flotation testwork produced concentrates with grades up to 3.05% Li2O and lithium recovery of up to 77% from a concentrated 30% of the mass feed.

The flotation tails contained significant tantalite mineralisation (Ta2O5) that could also be recovered and provide additional upside to the potential economics of the project.

MLS is confident there’s high potential to improve the metallurgical results as they were scoping in nature and had not been optimised for Manindi mineralisation.

Diamond drilling is planned to follow, and will provide additional samples for metallurgical tests and flow- sheet optimisation prior to resource estimation and development studies.


Matsa Resources (ASX:MAT)

The company has grown its presence in Thailand, acquiring 65 strategic special prospecting licence applications (SPLAs) covering 942km2 which lie along the lithium bearing western granite/pegmatite belt where Pan Asia Limited (ASX:PAM) is reporting exploration success at Reung Kiet and Bang I Tum prospects.

“Matsa sees enormous opportunities in exploration for lithium, gold and base metals, not only because of the highly prospective geology, but also the economic ramifications of Thailand’s close location to China,” Matsa said.

“The two countries are now directly linked by rail which could have positive economic benefits to any mine development within the region.”

The plan is to sample the new licences with the goal of identifying lithium bearing pegmatites for drill testing. Matsa intends to use some of the funds from the recently announced $20M sale of Red October and Devon to advance the projects.


Lithium Energy (ASX:LEL)

Lithium Energy has Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the local Jujuy Provincial Government Mining Authority to start exploration at its Solaroz lithium brine project in Argentina.

“There is no better address to be exploring for lithium than the prolific Lithium Triangle where a number of world class lithium brine projects have been discovered,” executive chairman William Johnson said.

“Our land position could not be better located being either directly adjacent to or principally surrounded by lithium majors – ASX/TSX listed Allkem Limited (ASX:AKE) (formerly Orocobre) and NYSE/TSX-listed Lithium Americas Corporation (NYSE:LAC).

“There has been significant M&A activity in the area showing the global interest in the district and lithium brines in particular, and we are incredibly excited to kick of our exploration efforts at Soloroz.”

A first stage mapping and geophysics program on the Payo tenement is scheduled to commence shortly.

Lithium Energy expects approvals for the remaining tenements to be progressively received within Q1 2022.

The conceptual exploration target for Solaroz is 1.5 to 8.7 million tonnes of contained LCE at between 500-700 mg/L lithium.


Venus Metals (ASX:VMC)

The company identified outcropping LCT-type pegmatites from a review of drilling data and rock chimp samples from its Henderson tenements in WA.

The  pegmatites are enriched in Tantalum and Niobium (max 426 ppm Ta2O5; max 392 ppm Nb2O5) with many showing elevated Lithium compositions with a maximum of 3.5% Li2O.

Venus considers them to be part of zoned LCT pegmatite swarms and exploration is ongoing to identify more extensive lithium-rich end members.

Venus will now accelerate exploration, including detailed surface sampling and mapping along with RC drill testing.

The company’s tenements are directly south from and abut Red Dirt Metals’ (ASX:RDT) Mt Ida lithium-copper-gold project.