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Nickel, lithium key ingredients to Auroch's battery minerals focus

Pending name change to 'Future Battery Minerals' to reflect company's direction

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 Auroch rig: On the cold ground at Auroch’s Nevada lithium project

Auroch rig: On the cold ground at Auroch’s Nevada lithium project

Approved by the board at an extraordinary general meeting of Auroch in early February, the name change has been lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and approval is expected soon. 

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Auroch technical director, Robin Cox

This is the word from Auroch technical director, Robin Cox who says that this focus on battery minerals has the company honing in on the two core battery ingredients, which are nickel and lithium.

"To this end we have very advanced nickel projects, one of which we are taking through a scoping study at the moment," Cox said.

The Saints nickel project, 70km north of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia is the subject of a scoping study following the recent resource upgrade of the project. The high-grade nickel sulphide project comprises 911,000t at 2.3% nickel an 0.2% copper, for 21,000t contained nickel and 1600t copper.

The company is progressing through the scoping study with the aim to deliver to the market shortly.  

"But the blue sky resides with our two lithium projects, those being the Kangaroo Hills in Western Australia and the other being the Nevada lithium project (80% ownership) in the state of Nevada in the United States," said Cox.

"At the moment we are drilling at both projects and we are quite excited about both programs. We believe they have the potential to deliver large-scale discoveries."

Cox says that at Kangaroo Hills (80% ownership), also just south of Coolgardie, Auroch is looking for LCT spodumene-bearing pegmatites.

"We have had success with rock chip sampling and previous exploration drilling, intercepting 6m at 1.38% lithium and also identifying 2.37% lithium on the surface."

Cox says that in Nevada, the company is exploring for lithium-bearing claystones and is surrounded by known deposits.

"We are just 5km from the American Lithium Corporation's TLC deposit and about 50 km from ASX-listed Ioneer's Rhyolite Ridge deposit.

"We know we are in the region of large-scale lithium claystone deposits over there. And should we find something sizeable, we are not too far from Tesla's Gigafactory! We might find a buyer there," Cox quips.

During the December quarter, permitting for drilling and environmental bonds were approved for San Antone East and Western Flats at the Nevada lithium project. The 3000m program is to test the Siebert Formation, which comprises tertiary aged sediments from, or near, surface. Within the Siebert Formation, the company is exploring for the presence of claystone lithologies elevated in lithium.

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Auroch location map: Auroch is at the right address in claystone lithium country in the mining-friendly state of Nevada

 

Auroch says that intercepts greater than 300 parts per million lithium will be considered anomalous and indicative of lithium-bearing claystone. Alford Drilling LLC, based at the mining town of Elko, has been contracted to complete the maiden programme with the company's in-country team supervising the work.

Cox was on the ground in Nevada for the start of the San Antone East and Western Flats prospects program. Post drilling, further work is planned at the remaining three prospects - Traction, Lone Mountain and Heller - to get them drill ready in subsequent months.

Auroch says that given the first-pass nature of this program, holes have been planned on wide scale spacing to aid understanding of the prospect stratigraphy. This will allow for more targeted drilling in the following phases of exploration at the project.

Holes will be drilled between 150-200m deep and the program is expected to take about five weeks. All samples will be submitted to ALS laboratory services in Reno, Nevada.

Situated in the Esmeralda and Nye counties of Nevada, the project is serviced by the historic silver mining town of Tonopah.

At the time of the Nevada drill campaign start, Cox said: "Today marks a very important milestone for Auroch and the Nevada lithium project.

"Since its acquisition in June 2022, the company has accelerated its technical evaluation of the land-holding to reach this point of defining several high priority drill targets and the start of the maiden drilling program.

"We are extremely happy to report that Alford's RC rig is on the ground and rods are spinning. The company is very excited about what this programme may discover as we explore an area which is well known for hosting lithium claystones," Cox said.

Back in the present, Cox says that there is currently a lot of investment going into the lithium claystone space. The Biden Administration has given a US$750 million loan to Ioneer to develop Rhyolite Ridge and General Motors has signed a US$650 million offtake agreement with Lithium Americas for lithium produced at Thacker Pass in Nevada's Humboldt County. "Again, it is the same mineralisation style as what we are looking for on our Nevada ground."

"This exploration focus is really going to see us through the next six to 12 months as we explore those two lithium projects. And, in the background, we will continue to develop our nickel assets in Western Australia," Cox said.

Cox says the rebranding to Future Battery Minerals is in line with the strategy of being a battery minerals-focused explorer and developer.

"We will be doing some branding of it at the RIU Explorers' Conference in Fremantle, as it will also have a new ASX ticker code."

During the December quarter there were multiple highlights, including a raising of A$2,650,000 before costs from the issue of 55,208,334 new shares at an issue price of A$0.048 per share.

ABOUT THIS COMPANY
Auroch Minerals

REGISTERED OFFICE:

DIRECTORS:

  • Michael Edwards: executive chairman

  •  Robin Cox: technical director

  •  Trevor Eton: Non-executive director

SHARES ON ISSUE:

  • 428 million

MARKET CAP (at February 8, 2023):

  • A$27 million

TOP SHAREHOLDERS:

  • HSBC Custody Nominees (Australia) Ltd 3.54%

  •  Getmeoutofhere Pty Ltd,  Sinking Ship Super Fund account 2.97%

  •  6466 Investments Pty Ltd 1.77%

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