This is the second in a two-part feature series.
This article is a sponsored feature from Mining.com.au partner Belararox Ltd. It is not financial advice. Talk to a registered financial expert before making investment decisions.
Belararox (ASX:BRX) has made a foray into South America with an acquisition that puts the junior exploration company in a new league amidst a plenitude of mining majors.
As Managing Director Arvind Misra explains to Mining.com.au in part-one of this feature series, the $22 million market capitalisation company is acquiring the ‘highly prospective’ Toro-Malambo-Tambo (TMT) Base Metal Project in Argentina.
Offering Belararox enormous copper-gold porphyry potential, the transaction complements the company’s flagship project in Australia. It is a strategic and value-accretive bolt-on acquisition giving the company exposure to the well-endowed San Juan mining province.
However, Misra tells this news service that back home in Australia, the junior explorer is continuing to develop its projects in parallel with TMT in South America.
He says, the recent deal simply confirms Belararox as a mineral explorer focused on securing and developing resources to meet the surge in demand from the technology, battery, and renewable energy markets, and projects in both countries are integral parts to the strategy.
And while its portfolio includes projects prospective for zinc, copper, gold, silver, nickel, and lead resources, it can now add lithium to that list.
Surrounded by good neighbours
Earlier this month Belararox identified Lithium-Caesium-Tantalum (LCT) pegmatite targets from drone aerial imagery across its 100% owned Bullabulling project in Western Australia. Several lithium-rich pegmatites have been uncovered in the same structural corridor adjacent to the Bali Monzonite and other potential pegmatite source rocks.
The MD tells Mining.com.au, the project is surrounded by notable lithium projects and prospects including Future Battery Minerals’ (ASX:FBM) Kangaroo Lithium Project only 10km down the road, as well as the historical Ubini Mine and the Red Panda prospect.
“This discovery of pegmatites really adds another dimension to the prospectivity of our Bullabulling asset. Our interest here isn’t just premised on these amazing discoveries, it’s also based on a range of aspects including the geology of the region, and the results that other companies have found, both current and historic.
It’s an exciting development for the company and it’s another example of the continued exploration success at Bullabulling which adds to our pipeline of work as it represents a real and value-added opportunity in a known highly prospective LCT pegmatite district in WA.
Possible pegmatite and sheeted quartz vein targets
Upcoming follow-up field mapping and sampling of the targets will give Belararox a better insight into the opportunity the lithium represents. As part of the overall exploration strategy for Bullabulling, acquisition of detailed drone aerial imagery has been completed to identify possible pegmatite and sheeted quartz vein targets.
The proposed exploration program at Bullabulling will assess potential for both LCT pegmatites and gold across the entire tenement package. Misra notes that the LCT pegmatites are generally readily visible in aerial imagery and detailed elevation data and this survey has covered the full 50km-square of the project cost effectively.
Targets identified from the drone photographic imagery will be field reconnaissance mapped and screened using a portable XRF with selected rock chip samples collected for certified laboratory analysis. The highest priority targets will be grid soil sampled and analysed by a certified laboratory for LCT pathfinder elements and gold.
Belararox anticipates completing the proposed exploration program by mid-2023.
Misra adds: “The review and interpretation of this imagery is still at a very early stage, and we think additional targets will be identified as we go along and our knowledge of lithium pegmatites across the project increases.
“Based on what we know from previous drilling that our peers have done so far, this is a very prospective part of WA which has known high grades nearby”
Based on what we know from previous drilling that our peers have done so far, this is a very prospective part of WA which has known high grades nearby.”
The MD notes there have been exceptional lithium interceptions from its neighbour Future Battery Minerals, including 29m @ 1.36% Li2O from 38m downhole from a 14-hole phase one reverse circulation (RC) drilling program.
Future Battery Minerals’ cumulative RC drilling of 3,440m was its first lithium-focused drilling campaign at what was traditionally its advanced Nepean nickel project. The switch of its focus to the important battery metal was inspired after the re-assaying of pegmatite intercepts from an earlier RC drill program designed to test a subsurface geophysical anomaly for nickel sulphide mineralisation.
This region where the lithium assets are situated near Bullabulling are located within a structural corridor adjacent to the Bali Monzogranite and similarly fractionated granitic pegmatite source rocks.
Misra says this has been the catalyst to start exploring at the Bullabulling project for mineralisation analogous to the lithium occurrences.
“Given the significant amount of vein material identified in both outcrop and as float, we absolutely consider that further appraisal of potential LCT pegmatites is warranted. We already have some higher priority target quartz veins and pegmatites that have been identified during reconnaissance mapping.
The main target area for pegmatite material comprises a corridor at the contact between the Bali Monzogranite in the east and the amphibolite rocks to the west, within the main eastern package of tenements. We plan to also assess the western tenements for potential pegmatite occurrences, which is another exciting direction for the company.”
Belararox holds 100% of the Bullabulling Project, which comprises 26 wholly owned tenements covering about 50km-square to the west of Coolgardie in the Eastern Goldfields prospective for gold and lithium.
Bullabulling surrounds the 3 million-ounce Bullabulling Gold Project and is along strike of the Nepean Nickel mine with 3D geology and prospectively mapping already completed and drill targets generated.
Within a 185km radius of Coolgardie, more than 347 million tonnes of lithium mineral resources have been estimated by a number of ASX listed companies in this region. Given the prolific lithium-bearing nature of the district, the group of explorers hunting for lithium is growing, with many switching their focus to battery metals, the MD adds.
Major lithium projects in the region include Mt Holland (189Mt @ 1.5% Li2O), Mt Marion (72.9Mt @ 1.37% Li2O) Manna (32.7Mt @ 1% Li2O), and Bald Hill (26.5Mt @ 1% Li2O).
It is a timely discovery for Belararox considering global demand for lithium continues to soar.
World lithium demand is forecasted to outmatch production in 2023 by about 3% at a time of growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) even as major producers boost output, according to Australia’s Office of the Chief Economist.
Global lithium demand by 2028 is forecast to double from this year’s level, with Asia remaining the biggest consumer, despite new battery output capacity emerging in Europe and the US.
There is an expected growth in lithium production to come online over the next 5 years, with most of the increase coming from higher output in Australia, Chile, and Argentina, the agency said. Australia is expected to continue being the largest lithium producer, accounting for 32% of world-wide lithium carbonate equivalent production by 2027-28.
Native Bee still sweet as honey
Meanwhile, Belararox has a 100% interest in the 643km-square Belara Project located in the Lachlan Fold Belt of New South Wales, where a maiden inferred resource of 5 million tonnes at a 3.41% zinc-equivalent (Zn-Eq), including: 1.82% Zn; 0.33% Cu; 0.63% Pb; 17.5g/t Ag, and 0.21g/t Au was reported in 2022.
The project includes the historic Belara and Native Bee mines that have been drilled to a depth of about 400 vertical metres and have massive sulphide mineralisation showing ‘excellent’ continuity and containing significant intersections of zinc, copper, silver, lead, and gold. Mineralisation is open along strike and at depth for both Belara and Native Bee with good potential for additional resources to be identified in the next phase of exploration.
Misra says results from a phase two drilling have confirmed and extended the continuity of massive sulphide mineralisation at Native Bee. Mineralisation extends more than 100m further south than the estimated resource and remains open at depth.
The phase two drill program is seeking to identify additional mineralisation to the previously announced maiden Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) at Belara and Native Bee comprising an inferred resource of 5Mt @ 3.41% Zn-Eq.
Highlights so far include 6m @ 4% Zn, 0.27% Cu, 1.15% Pb, 33.70g/t Ag, and 0.37g/t Au from 151m in NBDD007, including 3m at 7.57% Zn, 0.06% Cu, 2.11% Pb, 58.27g/t Ag, and 0.70g/t Au. Also, 8m at 2.17% Zn, 1.08% Cu, 0.14% Pb, 15.55g/t Ag, and 0.16g/t Au from 175m in NBDD009.
The MD tells Mining.com.au that the mineralised intersection in NBDD007 is the best to date at Native Bee. He says it suggests that the thickness of the massive sulphide lode is increasing with depth, potentially adding significant mineralisation below the known sulphide resource.
“We paused drilling so we can assess the potential of thicker and higher-grade material at depth. Exploration targeting and field mapping over a further 20km of prospective host rocks and structural corridor south of Belara and Native Bee is continuing on the recently granted EL9523 and EL9538, so lots of good things are coming out of these targets.
“These results continue to extend the mineralisation with the best intersection to date recorded at Native Bee…”
These results continue to extend the mineralisation with the best intersection to date recorded at Native Bee and what this indicates is this is a highly prospective asset with more massive sulphide mineralisation discovered and further exploration upside.
The massive sulphide lode appears less consistent to the south than initially expected and may not be contiguous between the north zone of reported inferred resources and the area of historical mining at Native Bee. So, we’ve paused the drill campaign after about 1200m of diamond drilling to consider the potential for retargeting drilling into higher grade areas.”
The MD adds that, at Native Bee, geological mapping and exploration targeting is ongoing to assess further mineralisation potential identified in a coincident airborne magnetics first derivative (1VD) and gravity anomaly, which extends from the area of the known mineral resource 2km southward.
Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au
Images: Belararox Ltd