Signs out of Africa that better times are ahead for lithium
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Special Report: Mali Lithium managing director Chris Evans believes investor sentiment towards Africa and, just as importantly, lithium, is on the improve based on his experience at this year’s Mining Indaba Conference in South Africa.
Evans spearheaded a small team from Mali Lithium (ASX: MLL) that attended the event in Cape Town last week and was encouraged by what he described as the “general upbeat feeling” and the level of interest in the company.
“It felt like everyone was keen to do deals after what has been a relatively quiet time in many commodities outside of gold,” he said.
“We were swamped with meeting requests, both through the conference’s meeting planning tool and from people coming past the company booth.”
Evans presented twice at the conference, once as part of the Junior Mining Investment Battlefield, a Shark Tank-type event in which small companies have 5-10 minutes to deliver their investment pitch, and again on the Junior Mining main stage.
He said he received “a lot of enquiries” after both.
While the bulk of the interest was in Mali Lithium’s flagship Goulamina Lithium Project, currently the subject of a definitive feasibility study (DFS), the company’s gold assets, also in Mali, also came in for some attention.
“Most people are aware that these are highly prospective and that we recently received over $4.5 million in royalties from Barrick Gold as a result of them mining on some of our tenements,” Evans said.
“We remain confident that we can generate some value from our gold assets in the short-term based on the current interest in gold and the enquiries at the conference.”
This morning Mali Lithium announced it had completed the reverse circulation component of the current phase of resource drilling at Goulamina, with additional high-grade, wide intercepts returned and the discovery of a new spodumene pegmatite.
Best new results from the Sangar I and II pegmatites included 25m at 1.97% lithium oxide (Li2O) from 134m and 52m at 1.44% Li2O from 155m, helping to improve the confidence in the geological interpretation and mineralisation.
Assays are still awaited from the Bara prospect, where spodumene-bearing pegmatite, the rock type that typically hosts lithium mineralisation, has been intersected over 68m.
Evans said the discovery of a new pegmatite at Bara was “an exciting development that demonstrates the potential of our project beyond the current known mineralised areas”.
Information gathered from the drilling will be factored in to revised resource and reserve estimates Mali Lithium expects to publish for Goulamina in March and April.
These updated figures will subsequently be incorporated into the DFS, which is due for completion in mid-May.
At the start of the week, Mali Lithium announced a memorandum of understanding with CIM Metal Group that could lead to a cost-effective solution for transport bulk spodumene concentrate from Goulamina to the port of Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire.
CIM operates a substantial truck fleet and regularly transports cement products from Abidjan to the Malian capital of Bamako.
The trucks mostly return to Abidjan empty and pass within 10km of Goulamina along a sealed highway, meaning there is an opportunity to explore whether they can be backloaded with concentrate.
CIM is expected to provide costings for backloading and stand-alone transport options that will be included in the DFS.