With the intention of building on its strong lithium portfolio in Austria at the heart of Europe’s burgeoning electric vehicle industry and decarbonisation drive, European Lithium Ltd (ASX:EUR, OTCQB:EULIF) has signed an agreement to acquire three projects in the resource-rich Styria mining district.
A binding Heads of Agreement (HoA) with 2743718 Ontario Inc., a subsidiary of Richmond Minerals Inc, covers 100% of the rights, title and interest in the Bretstein-Lachtal Project, Klementkogel Project and Wildbachgraben Project.
These exploration licences for the Austrian lithium projects total 114.6 square kilometres and are in an underexplored region that is considered prospective for lithium occurrences.
Adjacent to Wolfsberg
What’s more, the licences are adjacent to EUR’s advanced Wolfsberg Lithium Project, from which a robust definitive feasibility study has recently been completed that outlined an NPV of US$1.5 billion and IRR of 33.3%.
Chairman Tony Sage said: “The acquisition is an excellent opportunity to secure ground in a largely unexplored area highly prospective for lithium and builds on our portfolio of European projects in a known jurisdiction where we have exploration and development experience.”
“The company is in the final stages of completing a proposed merger transaction that will see the advanced Wolfsberg Lithium Project develop under the control of Critical Metals Corp. that intends to list on NASDAQ,” Sage said. “Once complete, together with our Ukrainian assets, the company will refocus on building and developing critical metal projects in Europe,” he added.
Providing encouragement for the prospectivity of the projects, a reconnaissance campaign has confirmed the presence of multiple pegmatite bodies and rock chip samples by Richmond Minerals show grades up to 2.67% lithium oxide (Li2O) hosted by spodumene pegmatites.
The projects consist of 245 exploration licences with the Wildbachgraben Project comprising 32 licences and covering 14.9 square kilometres; the Klementkogel Project 22 licences for 10.5 square kilometres; and the Bretstein-Lachtal Project 191 licences covering 89.2 square kilometres.
They are hosted by comparable, prospective geological units as the nearby Wolfsberg Lithium Project and also show a similar vein type mineralisation with spodumene as the main lithium-bearing mineral.
Bretstein-Lachtal most prospective
Bretstein-Lachtal, which is the most advanced and prospective of the trio, is around 80 kilometres from Wolfsberg and historical surface mapping has revealed spodumene pegmatite occurrences with Li2O grades of up to 2.93% and spodumene crystal sizes as large as 10 centimetres reported by Mali (2004).
Richmond Minerals completed a reconnaissance campaign in the summer of 2022 that revealed multiple pegmatite bodies in this project area, confirming the descriptions of Mali (2004).
During this work, spodumene pegmatite veins were observed up to a metre thickness with spodumene crystals up to 10 centimetres in size while geochemical results from grab rock chip samples indicate prospective spodumene pegmatites with Li2O grades ranging from 0.51 to 2.67%. Recent scientific work (Knoll et al., 2023) has supported the initial exploration approach taken by Richmond.
This work investigated an alternative explanation (anatectic model) for the formation of lithium-rich pegmatites without fertile parental granites and based on this model, Bretstein-Lachtal is considered highly prospective for a future discovery of spodumene pegmatites.
Limited work on other projects
There has only been limited exploration at the Wildbachgraben and Klementkogel projects with spodumene-bearing pegmatite findings reported in the past by Heritsch (1984), Moser et al. (1989) and Postl & Bojar (2015). Little is known about the existing outcrops and spatial distribution of spodumene pegmatites.
Post-acquisition, EUR plans a detailed and systematic exploration program with the aim of confirming the lithium potential.
Primarily focused on the Bretstein-Lachtal Project area, this includes:
Detailed geological and structural mapping of prospective areas to determine potential extent of pegmatite veins and lenses.
Additional trenching and sampling.
Definition of potential drill targets.
European Lithium will pay $250,000 in cash and issue to Ontario (or its nominee/s) 2 million fully paid ordinary shares in the company and 2 million unlisted options in consideration.
The HoA is subject to conditions including the completion of due diligence within three months, settlement is expected to occur on or before July 7, 2023.