- Demand for lithium continues to climb
- Hard rock still major source of lithium
- Historic assays indicate potential of Irgon Mine
News from down under indicates that Aussie lithium miners are caught between a rock and a hard place. Not only is production of lithium-rich spodumene ores falling, but so also is the quality of those ores. These factors are likely to affect global supply, because, even though lithium headlines are dominated by activity in the South American theater, Australia is still the world’s largest producer of lithium. Most of this Aussie output comes from spodumene, which is why hard rock lithium continues to hold center stage, an encouraging trend for QMC Quantum Minerals Corp. (TSX.V: QMC) (FSE: 3LQ) (OTC: QMCQF). For the junior exploration company, this good news has been supplemented by analysis of previously conducted assays on the Irgon Dike at the prolific Cat Lake-Winnipeg River Pegmatite Field of S.E. Manitoba, results of which reveal ‘significant potential to quickly increase tonnage, as the Irgon Dike is open both along strike and to depth’ (http://nnw.fm/hf2Sx).
Hard rock continues as the major source of lithium, mainly due to Australian production. The island continent’s output was 18,700 metric tons in 2017, surpassing the 14,100 metric tons produced by Chile, the number two supplier, from brine. Global supply comes mainly from these two nations, with Argentina, in third place, supplying 5,500 metric tons; China, in fourth place, producing 3,000 metric tons; and Zimbabwe adding 1,000 metric tons (http://nnw.fm/9JADr). Placed in this context, recently disseminated assay results show that Quantum Minerals has an opportunity to be a player in the hard rock arena, since the report estimates 1.2 million tons of lithium mineralization.
Grades are comparable or better than the Australian ores. For example, while the average grade of spodumene ore fed into the processing plant operated by Galaxy Resources fell to 1.11 percent over the past three months, assays at Irgon Dike have been graded at 1.5 percent lithium oxide (http://nnw.fm/6keEW). These Irgon Dike tests date from the 1950s, and they were conducted by previous operator Lithium Corporation of Canada (LCOC).
From 1953 to 1954, LCOC drilled 25 holes at the Irgon Dike. The miner subsequently reported a historical resource estimate of 1.2 million tons grading 1.51 percent lithium oxide over a strike length of 365 meters and to a depth of 213 meters (non-43-101 compliant). This estimate is documented in a 1956 assessment report by B. B. Bannatyne for the Lithium Corporation of Canada Ltd. (Manitoba Assessment Report No. 94932) and is believed to be based on reasonable assumptions, so that neither LCOC nor the qualified person (QP) have any reason to contest the document’s relevance and reliability. The detailed channel sampling and a subsequent drill program will be required to update this historical resource to current NI 43-101 standards. Historic metallurgical tests reported an 87 percent recovery from which a concentrate averaging 5.9 percent lithium oxide was obtained (http://nnw.fm/HQo63).
During the 1950s, as tests were conducted, a complete mining plant with the capacity to process 500 tons of ore per day was installed. In addition, a three-compartment shaft was sunk to a depth of 243 feet. At the 200-foot level, lateral development was extended off the shaft for a total of 1,200 feet of drifting, from which six crosscuts transected the dike. Awaiting a more favorable time for lithium oxides, the work was suspended in 1957, the mine buildings were removed and the shaft was sealed in 1963. Now, with lithium demand climbing, it seems that favorable time has arrived.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.QMCMinerals.com
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