It’s crunch time in Italy for Altamin with a looming DFS for Gorno zinc and progressing approval to start exploration on its cobalt and lithium projects.

The primary focus remains significantly on the advanced Gorno project, which already has a defined resource and an existing Scoping Study, which is full of tasty numbers such as NPV and IRR of US$211m and 50% respectively.

Altamin (ASX:AZI) is now working on metallurgy to determine how best to make recovery of other elements, besides zinc, more efficient and productive, while reducing costs.

Assays have also been received from its 2021 drilling and channel sampling results which highlight the potential to further increase resources from its current 7.8 million tonnes – grading 6.8% zinc, 1.8% lead and 32 grams per tonne silver.

Speaking to Stockhead, Altamin’s Managing Director, Geraint Harris, added that the company will then carry out infill and step-out drilling which will set the DFS up for commencement during in the second half of 2022.

However, Harris says the Company has its sights on becoming a multi-commodity play and that having three concurrent projects also dilutes the perceived permitting risks of being a single project company.

“Once you have got the exploration permits and active programs on multiple licences, if permitting takes a longer than anticipated for a single project it is not the whole story anymore,” he explained.


Geothermal lithium brines are heating up

Securing the Company’s two exploration licence applications for lithium in geothermal brines and the drilling licence for its Punta Corna cobalt-nickel project will certainly go a long way towards diversifying its interests and spreading the good word on its battery metal interests.

Geraint believes the lithium in brines are interesting – as combining the battery metal’s recovery with hydrothermal energy gradients is not as well-known as the Salar salt evaporation pond technology more commonly used in South America.

“The sort of lithium in brine metal salt separation is becoming reasonably well-known while producing energy from geothermal gradients has been used in Italy for a long time.  Vulcan Energy Resources have licences adjacent to ours as they have diversified their operations into Italy” he noted.

“Cornish Lithium have a similar project to ours with lower grades and lower geothermal gradient. Their pilot plant is already built, it just uses technology from France and if you look at their press releases, they assessed 10 different suppliers of that technology. So, it is quite a broad market.”

“As soon as we get the lithium licence, we are going to get further into the chemistry and understanding of the geology, so we will be able to start putting the pieces together which I hope will lead to some compelling news flow.”

While the Company is still some way from knowing just how much power the geothermal gradients can generate, Geraint believes it could be enough for the Company to export power, making it a potential revenue stream.

“It’s a bit like the zinc, which has the added revenue stream of the limestone waste that we can sell into the economy as an environmentally clean product as we are displacing quarry waste and not making waste dumps,” he added.

“It will be very much the same for geothermal – we will be looking to produce lithium, but if we can also sell into the grid and solve some of the power issues, it is a win-win.”


Cobalt ready to power up

Altamin is also hoping to secure the Punta Corna drill licences in time for the drilling season and potentially secure the asset for another three to four years.

“The cost of drilling at Punta Corna is a reasonably high cost by meter, but will be an efficient series of holes because we will be drilling through multiple targets with each hole,” Geraint noted.

There is little doubt that cobalt is present at the project, given that historical mining had recovered the metal for use as a pigment, while grab sampling has yielded some exceptionally intriguing results.

Once the approvals are granted for the lithium and cobalt/nickel projects to be added to the mix, Altamin will effectively have the three legs of the stool.

“The question for us going forward will be how we best prioritise our resources to get the best bang for the buck in terms of project advancement and to drive shareholder value, not just in the zinc space but also in the battery metal space,” Geraint concluded.

This article was developed in collaboration with Altamin, 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.