Lithium Universe’s ‘dream team’ seeks to fast-track Apollo to James Bay stardom
There are few lithium explorers that possess what Lithium Universe brings to the table – an experienced cadre of lithium professionals who have successfully built projects and are looking to do it all again.
Lithium Universe (ASX:LU7) includes key members of the Galaxy Resources team which developed the Mt Cattlin spodumene mine and the downstream Jiangsu lithium carbonate project in China before it merged with Orocobre to form Allkem.
Returning to the lithium game after a 10-year absence is non-executive chairman Iggy Tan, who – while known for his recent endeavours with Altech Batteries – was also spruiking the importance of lithium well before it became a household name.
Other notables are Patrick Scallan, who successfully managed the world-class Greenbushes Mine for over 25 years, former Galaxy Resources general manager of technology Dr Jingyuan Liu, who played a key role in developing the Jiangsu lithium carbonate project, and former Mt Cattlin plant manager Roger Pover.
Speaking to Stockhead, LU7 chief executive officer Alex Hanly said the “dream team” was what set Lithium Universe apart from other lithium explorers.
“You don’t see the calibre or pedigree of lithium experience in our peers,” he says.
“We have got everything covered from geology, all the way up to commercial offtake networks embedded with lithium carbonate refineries, as well as spodumene concentrate design, engineering experience and development.
“It is quite unique. What we are illustrating to the market is that we are serious and, in truly Iggy Tan style, we are going to hit the ground running to get the project up as quickly as we can.”
Hanly added that it would take a junior explorer a decade to get the wealth of experience that the company already has within its current management team.
“One thing to note is that lithium experience is quite hard to come by at the moment and not many people outside of the majors have built projects – we can boast that within our board and executive management team,” he says.
“I think that’s a big part of it and the reality is we are going to add value to exploration given the focus on production that we have got from some of the board members.
“Having those people engaged early helps us through each stage of the project.”
If the company’s management team is one of its key pillars, the other is its 240km2 Apollo project, which is actually 26km2 larger than Patriot Battery Metals’ (ASX:PMT) Corvette, the project which thrust Quebec’s James Bay region into the spotlight.
It is not hard to see why. Patriot’s barrage of 163 holes totalling more than 56,000m led to the late July release of a monster resource of 109.2Mt grading 1.42% Li2O – the largest hard rock resource in the Americas and the eighth largest worldwide.
That is all good news for Lithium Universe given that Apollo is just 29km southeast of Corvette and is located within the same greenstone belts of the La Grande sub-province, late-stage pluton and structural zone.
It also hosts 17 reported pegmatite outcrops similar to those that have returned exceptional results in the neighbouring projects and is about 28km west of Winsome Resources’ (ASX:WR1) Adina project.
“Our licence was staked by our partner back in early 2022 when the peers in the region – Patriot and Winsome were small to moderate-sized companies,” Hanly says.
“We are not late to the party in terms of pegging, we have got the front end in terms of geology, we have all the right ingredients and hallmarks for potential lithium discoveries.”
Despite this prospectivity, there has been limited historical exploration over the project, which Lithium Universe intends to make good on by launching systematic mapping, geochemical soil sampling and geophysical surveys over the 17 pegmatite outcrops and the northeast-southwest trending topographic highs previously identified by the Quebec Government.
Concurrently, the company plans to conduct an airborne geophysical and remote survey to concentrate field works and provide high-priority drill targets for the maiden drilling campaign.
While Apollo is the company’s primary focus, Hanly says the Margot Lake project in Ontario’s Red Lake District is also noteworthy.
The 19.8km2 project is just 16km from Frontier Lithium’s PAK deposit, which has a resource of 9.9Mt at 2.0% Li2O and 18km away from Frontier’s Spark deposit, which contains an indicated 18.8Mt at 1.52% Li2O and an inferred 29.7Mt at 1.34% Li2O resource.
Margot Lake contains nine confirmed pegmatites that were identified from a government dataset and displays similar regional geology to major resources within the immediate area.
Hanly says that while the company has not been on site, the project does hold the same sort of attributes, greenstone, late-stage granite intrusions to Frontier’s projects.
“This licence was pegged by our partner in consultation with an Ontario or Toronto-based PhD expert in LCT pegmatites,” he added.
“It has good pedigree. We are focusing wholly on Apollo, but we will do some preliminary desktop and low cost expenditure there to understand the reality of it.”
Lithium Universe also holds the 187km2 Voyager rare earths project in Tasmania, which is right next door to ABx Group’s tenements that have a resource of 27Mt at 803ppm total rare earth oxides, with plenty of upside.
“They cover a ground position in Tasmania and our partner saw a huge benefit in what they were doing because it is one of the true ionic-clay REE deposits with a resource there,” Hanly told Stockhead.
“That could be a bit of a game changer for the REE sector in Australia generally and we have a huge ground position right there proximal to ABx.
“The reality is that they are going to keep building that resource up, we have already engaged with the Tasmanian authorities to get the government datasets, which is quite extensive, and we have seen the same sort of anomalies that they saw within the early stages of looking at their project.”
Looking ahead, Hanly says the company is wholly focused on building the Apollo project up as quickly as it can – an objective supported by its well-credentialled and experienced team.
“We will have boots on the ground, we will have some news coming out there.” he says.
Despite this focus on Apollo, Hanly said the company is always looking at project generation activities and potential production opportunities.
“Having the extensive skillset we have, we are evaluating the viability of different economic plays in the James Bay region that can play into the skillset we have,” he says.
“There are a lot of explorers within James Bay, but none really have the expertise to actually build a project and that might be a skillset we use in the future, whether that is through JV or some sort of late-stage acquisition.
“We are flexible and dynamic with the group that we have.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Lithium Universe, 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.