Lithium is predominately found in hard rock mineral deposits as well as in brines from salt lakes. Hard rock lithium minerals include spodumene, petalite and lepidolite with most economically significant concentrations of these minerals found in pegmatites. Lithium-rich pegmatites can be found in association with, and / or adjacent to, tantalum-rich pegmatites.
Lithium is used in a diverse array of products such as high value batteries, ceramic glass and lubricants. The lithium market has undergone substantial growth over the last 5 years and this has resulted in a substantial increase in the Lithium price. This growth has predominately been driven by increased demand for lithium batteries, particularly for use in environmentally friendly, electric passenger vehicles.
Historic data contained within a National Instrument 43-101 technical report titled "Technical Report on the Mineral Assets of Tantalum Mineracao and Prospeccao Limitada", dated 25th May 2009 (the "43-101 Report"), indicates that the Company’s Mozambique licences have the potential for both tantalum and lithium mineralization. The 43-101 Report makes reference to a joint Russian and Mozambican exploration project carried out at Muiane between 1979 and 1982. As part of this project a series of exploration programmes were carried out followed by some mining. These included:
1) The sinking of 24 exploratory shafts,
2) Drilling of 24 diamond drill holes for a total of 1,800 metres, and
3) Digging of 27 trenches for 1,460 metres.
This programme was reported to document grades for the following Ta2O5, Nb2O5, Li2O, BeO, Bi2O, Cs2O, Na2O and K2O. PAW has recently received a large amount of data from these programs (Cross sections, drill logs, assays). The quality of this data is variable and PAW is currently compiling/translating the information with a view to gaining a better understanding of the data and potential mineralization. What can be reported is that the depth of some of the holes drilled were in excess of 120 metres. Some of these holes have shown extension of the pegmatites to depths below the limit of the RC drilling the subject of the current 43-101 Report.
The 43-101 Report also makes reference to historic trenching completed between 1994 and 1996 by African Mining and Trust ("AMT") as part of an exploration program which, in addition to trenching, included mapping, diamond drilling, bulk sampling, geophysical surveys and radiometric analysis. Analyses of samples taken from these trenches were conducted by Mintek of South Africa with assays taken for the following minerals: Ta2O5, Nb2O5, Li2O, ThO2, and U3O8.
These assay results confirm elevated levels of Li20 in samples taken from the trenches. The 43-101 Report makes reference to the Muiane pegmatite exhibiting a wide variety of minerals, including the presence of lithium minerals (petalite, spodumene (altered) and lepidolite). The 43-101 Report also makes reference to the Litica Zone, a lithium-rich zone which was the main focus of previous mining operations.
As reported in the 43-101 Report, ITM Mining Limited ("ITM") carried out an extensive mineral processing and geological sampling program at Muiane from May to June, 1999. A total of 24 RC drill holes were drilled to depths of between 26m and 70m for a total of 973m of which 909 m was assayed. In addition, five bulk samples of approximately 19 tonnes each were manually excavated from the west block at Muiane. Although ITM did assay for Ta2O5 and Li2O, there is limited information on the quality control and assaying techniques used. What can be reported is that lithium mineralisation was encountered in over 80% of the total RC samples assayed and that in both the Litica Zone and quartz / spodumene zones, significant amounts of lithium mineralisation were intersected. Lithium mineralisation was also reported in conjunction with Tantalum mineralisation in all five bulk samples. These historic results need to be validated using a combination of trenching and drilling which adhere to the appropriate quality assurance and quality control procedures.
In addition to the historic data which indicates lithium potential on the Company’s licences, there is a history of lithium mining on the Alto Ligonha pegmatite belt. This was documented in a publication titled "The Geology and Mineral Resources of Mozambique", National Directorate of Geology Mozambique (Lachelt 2004). This publication states, "At some Alto Ligonha pegmatites, lithium (lepidolite) and caesium (mostly pollucite) were mined as by products (in addition to gemstones and industrial minerals) as well as "The most important Li-mineral deposits are those of Morrua, Muiane, Moneiea and Munhamola…"
The PAW team has extensive experience in the mining, processing and marketing of lithium and tantalum. From 2001 to 2004, PAW director Mr. David Paull was responsible for selling of over half the world’s tantalum and two thirds of the world’s hard rock lithium production in his role as Executive General Manager of Marketing and Business Development for Sons of Gwalia in Western Australia.
Mr. David Bale, a geologist and metallurgist by background, consults to PAW. Mr Bale has over 30 years experience in the tantalum and lithium mining industry including a period as Managing Director of Lithium Australia Limited. From 1996 to 2007, Mr. Bale was Executive General Manager of the Minerals Division for Sons of Gwalia. During this period he was responsible for managing the production of over half the world’s tantalum and two thirds of the world’s hard rock lithium.
Mr. Darren Townsend, PAW’s President/CEO, is a mining engineer with over 15 year’s mining industry experience. Mr. Townsend was previously General Manager at the Wodgina tantalum mine in Western Australia where over a period of five years he was instrumental in overseeing the expansion of the operation into what was then the world’s largest Tantalum operation.
The Company’s strategy is to aggressively explore delineated tantalum targets on licences with the objective of adding to the existing tantalum resource base and gaining a better understanding of the lithium potential of the properties. The Company has recently engaged a drilling company to undertake a 1,500 m RC drilling program targeting high grade tantalum (Spirit Valley and Maridge) and Lithium targets in and around Muiane. Drilling is expected to commence prior to the end of October.