It’s a big day for junior explorer Astute Metals (ASX:ASE), which has released a string of news regarding its lithium and heavy mineral sands projects in Western Australia and Nevada, respectively
The company, which has a $14.09 million market capitalisation, reports it has produced ‘marketable’ heavy mineral products from its wholly owned Governor Broome Project in Western Australia and has also encountered ‘broad’ lithium hits at its Altair Project in Nevada, US.
As of 1:45pm AEST on Wednesday 23 August, Astute Metals shares are up 19.5% to $0.049.
WA: Governor Broome results pave the way for Scoping Study
Astute reports it has produced ‘marketable’ heavy mineral sands products following a wet and dry testwork program on a 2-tonne bulk sample from the cornerstone Jack Track deposit within its Governor Broome project in Western Australia.
The company notes a heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) has been produced in the wet concentrator circuit through the use of conventional mineral sands processing equipment, with tests returning a ‘high’ 85.5% recovery of heavy minerals.
Heavy mineral grades for this HMC are reported to exceed 90%.
The company also notes it has produced ‘high-value’ ilmenite, rutile, and zircon products from the HMC through the use of conventional dry plant mineral separation equipment.
This rutile product has been interpreted to meet ‘premium’ criteria and is suitable for ‘high-value’ welding applications. Meanwhile, the zircon encountered has been confirmed to meet standard ceramic and foundry specifications.
Further, a concentrate rich in monazite has also been generated, which has the potential to be sold into the Chinese markets.
Astute states these results from the bulk sample testwork will be incorporated into the completion of a Scoping Study in the hope of demonstrating the potential of the project.
Speaking on the results, Astute Executive Chairman Tony Leibowitz says: “These excellent bulk sample testwork results mark another important step in our value-realisation strategy at the Governor Broome Project. Because of its scale and Tier-One location, Governor Broome is a valuable asset which probably doesn’t receive the recognition that it should in our portfolio.
The bulk sample testwork on the Jack Track deposit has further de-risked the project, demonstrating the ability to produce the three high-value saleable products rutile, zircon, and ilmenite, from the eastern portion of the deposit. Previous testwork focused on the western part of the deposit. The results, together with the impending resource upgrade due next quarter, will be incorporated into the Scoping Study scheduled for completion early next year. This should provide investors with a clear line of sight to the value proposition that we can see emerging at Governor Broome.”
“Governor Broome is a valuable asset which probably doesn’t receive the recognition that it should in our portfolio“
Meanwhile, Astute Metals announces it has also secured a land access agreement with the traditional owners of the land on which its wholly owned East Kimberley Diamonds Exploration Licence is located.
As a result, Astute states it has moved forward with the submission of a proposed work plan to the traditional owners to undertake work on the tenement.
This work is considered to be of a nature that necessitates the completion of a cultural heritage survey.
However, the protracted period taken to obtain the land access agreement — followed by the wait to undertake a heritage survey — has prevented fieldwork from being undertaken on the project during the term of the tenement as was proposed under the last extension of term (EoT) submitted in 2021.
As such, a new EoT application for a period of 2 years, with an associated proposed work program, has been submitted to the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS).
Nevada: fresh lithium opportunities for Astute
Looking at its US assets, Astute has today announced it has completed the physical staking of a new lithium project, the Cobre Lithium Project, in northeast Nevada.
The company says this new project is situated east of Wells and close to the locality of Cobre, a historical interchange between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Nevada Northern Railway.
This region has historically serviced the copper mining industry in Ely, Nevada, with the claims of the project being considered prospective for claystone-hosted lithium deposits.
The staking of this new project comes in conjunction with the definition of ‘broad’ lithium intercepts within the first drillhole of a maiden drilling program at Astute’s Altair Project in Nevada.
Astute declares these results have led to the discovery of 2 zones of ‘significant’ lithium mineralisation, with key results including drillhole AL01 with 33.5m at 481 parts per million (ppm) lithium from 80.8m and 33.5m at 508ppm lithium from 147.8m.
This hole ended in lithium mineralisation, which indicates further potential beyond hole depth.
Therefore, the company is in the advanced stages of securing a drill rig to test over 7km of strike potential in 2 further permitted holes at Altair in Q4 this year.
Astute pursues ‘transformational growth strategy’ with bolstered balance sheet
The company’s series of announcements today also includes the completion of tranche two of its recently launched share placement. Under this final stage of its capital raising plan, Astute raised $1.35 million to pursue its ‘transformational growth strategy’, which includes progressing its lithium-based exploration at Altair and the Polaris Project in Nevada.
Under tranche two, Astute has issued over 25.413 million shares to sophisticated investors and directors at $0.053 per share, raising under $1.347 million before costs.
Alongside the lithium exploration work, the money raised is expected to be used to fund the delivery of a Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) upgrade for the Governor Broome Project in Western Australia.
Leibowitz states the completion of the tranche two placement puts the company in a ‘strong’ financial position.
“The proceeds received under the company’s tranche two placement, along with the company’s existing cash reserves, place the company in a strong financial position.
The proceeds received will further enable the company to achieve its objective of becoming a major player in the USA lithium industry, as well as unlock the significant value in the Georgina Basin IOCG and Governor Broome Mineral Sands Project in Western Australia.”
“The proceeds received under the company’s tranche two placement, along with the company’s existing cash reserves, place the company in a strong financial position“
Topping off newsflow for the day, Astute Metals has informed the market it has entered into a binding subscription agreement with ‘major’ shareholder Holdmark Property Group.
Under the agreement, Holdmark is expected to inject $2.063 million into Astute and subsequently increase its stake in the company to 19.9%. The funds are expected to be raised through the issue of over 41.273 million fully paid ordinary shares at $0.05 per share.
These proceeds are expected to be used in the execution of Astute’s growth strategy.
Astute also views this agreement and continued investment from Holdmark as a ‘strong’ endorsement of its strategy to create value from its ‘high-calibre’ critical metals exploration assets and Governor Broome.
The Executive Chairman adds Astute is ‘fortunate’ to have Holdmark in its corner while it continues to develop its quality assets in North America and Australia.
“We are very pleased to see Holdmark increase its shareholding back to 19.9%. The company is fortunate to have such a large supportive shareholder who is aligned with the board’s focused strategy in developing its quality assets in North America and Australia. I would like to thank Holdmark for their continued support.”
Astute Metals is an ASX-listed diversified explorer with a clear focus on finding and developing critical metals required for electrification and the global energy transition.
The company’s Governor Broome Project is located in the heart of mineral sands country in southwest Western Australia. Meanwhile, its Altair Project is located southwest of the township of Tonopah in the heart of one of the world’s most active lithium exploration districts.
Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au
Images: Astute Metals