A sign of a burgeoning sector is one that is able to withstand market downturns. This is the particular case with lithium mining.
While the market has witnessed a steep decline in the metal’s price in recent months, the big players have remained largely profitable. The reason? A resilient demand for electric vehicles that could last for decades.
And despite lukewarm vehicle sales in China and measures taken by its EV battery maker to pressurize suppliers, the price of lithium is still ‘significantly’ higher than its long-term average, an analysis by Sprott shows. Between 2021 and 2022, spot lithium gained at least 1000%, an evidence for its healthy long-term outlook.
All the big car makers are well aware of this, and some have already taken strategic stakes in lithium producers even with oversupply concerns that have driven down prices. This is especially true in the US, seeing how General Motors invested a hefty $650 million in Lithium Americas.
According to Reuters, demand for lithium batteries in the US is expected to grow more than six times and translate into $55 billion per year by the end of the decade. Most of the lithium needed to build these batteries could well be mined in Nevada, the hotbed for lithium exploration and development right now.
Among those that are actively exploring the lithium-rich state is Victory Battery Metals (CSE: VR) (FWB: VR61) (OTC: VRCFF), an international mining junior whose interests span across North America. It is currently developing several existing projects, led by its Smokey Lithium property located next to American Lithium’s world-class property.
Smokey Lithium Phase 2 Drilling
The most exciting part of any mineral exploration project is arguably drilling, which carries the promise of new, earth-shattering discoveries.
This week, Victory announced exactly that: the start of its much-anticipated Phase 2 drilling at Smokey Lithium. This second phase drilling, planned for three holes, will focus specifically on high-quality drill targets, aiming to extend the strong lithium mineralization intersected previously on the property.
During the Phase 1 program, Victory’s team completed a total of 15 holes, which have produced favourable results including one hole that ended in significant, claystone-hosted lithium mineralization at 417 feet. The highest single sample interval was found at 377-381 feet grading 1,270 ppm lithium, which represents an impressive value by industry standards.
For Victory, this result was even more significant, as it validated the company’s theory that there is indeed a lithium deposit buried deep along the boundary margins of a nearby property (Jindalee).
Therefore, the company wants to build on those results and solidify its understanding of the lithium resource found within and around its property.
Locating ‘Buried’ Lithium
According to Victory, the new drill targets are a “perfect combination” of step out drilling on a previous mineralized intersection along with grassroots targets of claystone sediments within the Weepah Detachment fault and underlying claystones of the Esmeralda Formation of Nevada.
The Smokey Lithium project area and surrounding lands have shown strong lithium mineralization with the Esmeralda Formation at surface. “When combined with the highly encouraging results from Victory’s first round of drilling, the project area is highly prospective,” the company stated.
Additional exploration goals of the Phase 2 drill program – expected to be completed within a 2-3-week period, include drilling through the locally mineralized sediments above the Weepah Detachment fault.
This, Victories says, is important to grow its understanding of a significant area of known lithium mineralization including potentially important claystone-hosted lithium discoveries made in 2017 by Jindalee Resources to the immediate south of the property. The ASX-listed miner recently claimed that it has the largest lithium deposit in the United States after updating the resource for its McDermitt project.
The exploration efforts of both Victory and Jindalee have now shown that the most southern portion of the Smokey Valley is underlain by claystones, ashstones and mudstones of the Esmeralda Formation. This geology is critical for success in the region where large, blanket like mineralized sections have been recently found, Victory says.
Detailed geologic mapping by the company at the Smokey Lithium project has identified the contact of the Weepah Detachment slide block. This slide block conceals the Esmeralda Formation in the southern portion of the property. Lithium mineralization within the Weepah sediments has previously been noted by the USGS.
Victory sees the potential to drill through mineralized Weepah sediments and down into mineralized Esmeralda Formation sediments. The drill targets are specifically targeted at that geologic setting with the goal of significantly expanding the known lithium mineralization on the property.
“Building on our extensive exploration on Smokey Lithium, our team has a high level of confidence in our understanding of the resource potential, which has informed the locations of the drill target intercepts now underway and, which are aimed at establishing the maiden resource potential of the property,” Victory’s President and CEO Mark Ireton commented in a news release.
While more drilling still needs to be done before the true extent of the mineralization at Smokey Lithium can be fully determined, at this point, we can already conclude Victory is holding onto something highly prospective for the EV battery material.
Given last year’s successful exploration led by sample lithium results of over 1,200 ppm, it’s clear to see why follow-up drilling is required and the results should be highly anticipated.
The timing for Victory’s lithium expedition has never been better. The US Inflation Reduction Act has created a huge wave of interest in America-made metals that can feed the EV supply chain, and the aforementioned GM deal is only just the beginning of a huge wave of investments in this area.
As long as there are domestic lithium sources, which so far have been concentrated in Nevada, there won’t be any shortage of interest.
Victory Battery Metals Corp.
CSE:VR, FWB:VR61, OTC:VRCFF
Shares Outstanding 66m
Market cap Cdn$5.3m
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