RRS Summer Series: Patriot Battery Metals’ Corvette lithium discovery sparks a bit of ‘deja vu’ for Ken Brinsden
At the Resources Rising Stars (RRS) Summer Series in Melbourne on Thursday TSX-listed Patriot Battery Metals non-executive chairman Ken Brinsden said there might be some “method to his madness” and perhaps a bit of “coincidence” or “déjà vu” in his experience getting introduced to Patriot and the Corvette discovery shortly after stepping down as managing director of Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS).
Brinsden kicked off his presentation by firstly apologising to the crowd for the forthcoming references to Pilbara Minerals and the odd sort of ‘Freudian slip’, interchanging Pilbara with Patriot.
“I’m sorry about that, it’s quite difficult to change hats,” he explained.
For context, Brinsden announced he was going to step down as managing director of PLS in February 2022 after leading its rapid development from junior explorer to an ASX 100 company and one of the world’s leading lithium raw materials players.
He came across the Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project in 2015, back when PLS was a 1c penny dreadful – it is now a $4.57 giant with a valuation of more than ~$13bn.
“I was looking at the Pilgangoora project with a view to participate and although I knew very little, when I rolled out the geological maps on the kitchen table, I was excited about what I saw because there was huge potential in the geology,” he said.
“Fast forward to May 2022, I’m winding down at Pilbara Minerals and looking at Patriot’s geological maps on the kitchen table and thinking to myself ‘this is feeling a lot like Pilgangoora in 2015’ because the geology at the Corvette discovery feels like it is going to support another big project over time.”
While Patriot is still in the early stages, Brinsden said there is already evidence to indicate it will be one of the bigger discoveries in the last decade or so.
The Corvette land package hosts significant lithium potential, highlighted by the 2.2km long CV5 spodumene pegmatite with drill intersections of:
This is where the bulk of Patriot’s drilling has been conducted to date.
“The outcrops are dotted over a serious length or strike extent, and this is where another parallel to Pilgangoora is important to reference,” Brinsden added.
“When you stood at the centre of the Pilgangoora operation at the central pit on top of the hill before it was mined, you could look five kilometres to the north and see the monster outcrop.
“As it stands today, Pilgangoora’s strike extent in the key project area is roughly 13 or 14 kilometres.
“At Corvette, it is about 20 kilometres of strike extent of key outcrop known to host spodumene – it is an incredibly fertile system … it’s mind blowing when you can see it in the core and in outcrop.”
Patriot is planning to release its first resource in March 2022 after the upcoming ASX debut in mid December under the code PMT.
Over the next five to 10 years, Brinsden said the North America market is the place to be for lithium with its rapidly developing EV market and the many battery facilities already under construction in the region.
“But they are terribly served with respect to raw material supply.
“In fact, the US market as it stands today – as much they don’t want it to be the case – will be reliant on China for the next five to 10 years so there’s this huge effort underway to open up and mature their supply chain for access to raw materials and to the extent its possible, locally.
“That’s why I’m really optimistic about Patriots position in that supply chain – corporately we can get ourselves vertically integrated into what is going to be the next most important supply chain beyond China.”
Meanwhile, Pilbara Minerals’ head of port and operational development, Simon Coyle, updated the audience on its downstream joint venture with POSCO over a 43,000tpa lithium hydroxide plant in Gwanyang, South Korea – which includes an option for the company to acquire an additional 12% in the project, taking the overall stake to 30%.
Named the POSCO-Pilbara Minerals Lithium Solution, he said the JV places the company at the forefront of the emerging South Korean lithium chemicals and battery market and supports its overall diversification strategy to become a fully integrated lithium raw materials company.
Similarly, it will help position POSCO as one of South Korea’s largest battery material producers, supporting the rapidly growing market for lithium-ion batteries.
Commissioning of Conversion Facility is expected from late 2023.
The company had a cash balance of $1.37bn at the end of the September quarter.