AU$4 Billion Galaxy/Orocobre Merger to Create Top 5 Lithium Company

Lithium companies have been active in M&A lately, and more may follow after the proposed deal between Galaxy Resources and Orocobre.

Australia’s Orocobre (TSX:ORL,ASX:ORE) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY,OTC Pink:GALXF) agreed this week to join forces in a AU$4 billion “merger of equals.” The deal comes as demand for lithium for electric vehicle (EV) batteries continues to pick up pace.

Once the merger is complete, the new company will become a top five lithium chemicals company globally — and top three outside of China — with production capacity of around 40,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per year.

“The merged entity’s growth opportunities in both brine and hard rock position it uniquely to take advantage of expected rising EV demand for lithium,” Galaxy Chairman Martin Rowley said.


Galaxy has been advancing plans to develop the Sal de Vida lithium brine and potash project in Argentina, while Orocobre operates the Olaroz lithium-producing facility in the same country.

Commenting on the deal, Reg Spencer of Canaccord Genuity told the Investing News Network (INN) that he is positive on the transaction.

“The merger would give the combined entity significant scale, geographic and product diversification and better access to capital,” he said. “Assuming all projects delivered by 2025, market share would be about 13 percent, and given we expect the market to be in deficit, the increased supply would be unlikely to have a negative impact.”

Aside from its Argentina project, Galaxy also owns the Mount Cattlin mine in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, which is currently producing spodumene and tantalum concentrate, as well as the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Quebec, Canada.

Additionally, Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015) are finalizing plans to jointly develop a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Fukushima, Japan.

“I am certainly bullish,” Paola Rojas of Synergy Resource Capital told INN, adding that the lithium market is still quite small globally, and it’s facing an unprecedented increase in demand over the next decade.

“Larger players, I believe, will be needed to provide more security and stability to supply, as well as ramping up capabilities,” she said. “With the lithium future contracts soon to be launched, I see this as another signal of strength and health. More institutional capital will be pouring in, for certain.”

Under the proposed merger, Orocobre will purchase all of Galaxy’s shares, while Galaxy’s shareholders will receive 0.569 Orocobre shares for each Galaxy share held at the scheme record date. The merger is subject to all regulatory and shareholder approvals.

For Rojas, Orocobre’s expertise of taking an asset from acquisition to production will allow the combined entity to take Galaxy’s Sal de Vida project, complete development works currently in progress and move through to production quite quickly, taking full advantage of Orocobre’s valuable experience.

“On the other hand, Orocobre’s shareholders will benefit from jurisdiction diversification via two of the safest places to invest, as well as access to a different variety of lithium,” she said. “It is also likely that they’ll be able to fund internally the expansion of their inventory and development, if not CAPEX, as they seem to be doing well in terms of cash and debt.”

That said, there are a few hurdles the combined company could face going forward.

Spencer said these challenges will not be insignificant given the scale of the undertaking, which effectively involves three projects: the Olaroz expansion, and Sal de Vida and James Bay development.

“I don’t expect financing to be an issue, but usual challenges associated with new lithium project builds would definitely apply,” he added.

As the lithium price environment stabilises after a few years of being under pressure, the market could see more merger and acquisition activity. So far this year, lithium prices have seen an uptick on the back of higher EV sales in key markets such as Europe.

“I think as lithium chemicals pricing continues to strengthen, and the realities of the crunch we will all feel soon set in, international players will continue to look around for advanced assets to acquire, and some of these companies will likely prefer to join forces instead of being taken over,” Rojas said. “We should see at least a couple more during the rest of 2021, albeit likely to be smaller, on or below $100 million.”

The lithium market has already seen quite a lot of merger and acquisition activity, with IGO (ASX:IGO,OTC Pink:IIDDY) taking a stake in Greenbushes, Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) acquiring Altura Mining and now the Orocobre and Galaxy proposed merger.

“Given the outlook for the sector, I expect more, but mainly for higher-quality assets,” Spencer said. “I won’t rule out the potential for non-lithium companies to enter the industry via acquisition.”

Following the news on Monday (April 19), shares of Galaxy jumped more than 10 percent, while dual-listed Orocobre saw an increase of more than 8 percent from its Friday (April 16) closing price.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Lake Resources CEO Stephen Promnitz: Scaling Lithium Supply with $150 Million Series B Funding

Lake Resources Managing Director Stephen Promnitz

Lake Resources (ASX:LKE,OTCQB:LLKKF) Managing Director Stephen Promnitz says Lake Resources has secured robust financing to scale up lithium production in preparation for the electric vehicle revolution.

Lake Resources has recently established a technology and funding partnership with Lilac Solutions, and the latter has announced $150 Million Series B to scale lithium supply for the electric vehicle era.

Lake Resources: Scaling Lithium Supply with $150 Million Series B Funding www.youtube.com

"Lilac Solutions are actually going to work with us and progressively earn into our flagship Kachi project, and then provide $50 million towards the development of that project. So come the end of October, we should have somewhere around $70 to $80 million in the bank, plus this $50 million commitment from Lilac going forward. And then if we have some additional $75 million options in June next year. Essentially, we can now see a pathway to the entire project being financed," Promnitz said.

Lake Resources and Lilac Solutions signed a partnership agreement wherein Lilac is able to achieve an equity stake in the Kachi project with project funding obligations while providing its leading technology to advance the project.

"There's a real deal here, and now value opportunity. But on top of that, we've de-risked it from the debt side and from the equity side. This project is going to happen, and not only that, we're going to be scaling it up to 50,000 tonnes per annum soon after we get into production. That will make us one of the top five producers in the lithium space."

Watch the full interview of Lake Resources Managing Director Stephen Promnitz above.

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map of austria

Austria is already well positioned to seize on the growth of the electric vehicle market and the future of e-mobility

With a history dating back to the Roman Empire, Austria's mining industry is firmly rooted in tradition. This means that in addition to extensive pre-established infrastructure, there is also a great deal of community and government support in the region. Austria's mature environment, strategic location and industry-friendly political climate make it an ideal investment target.

Austria extracts approximately 80 million tonnes of material resources from its mines each year. As of 2020, the sector employed roughly 4,200 people across mining and production. Austria is also the fifth largest producer of magnesite in the world, and a key producer of graphite for the European market.

Austria is noteworthy for having the largest underground tungsten ore deposit in the world, the largest siderite deposits in the world and the largest talcum deposit in Central Europe. It is also the site of a major lithium deposit. However, it's important to note that mining is currently not a major contributor to Austria's annual gross domestic product, representing just $7.1 billion of $371.8 billion in 2016. The country largely relies on imports from trade partners for most metals, as well as for fossil fuels.


Austria remains a highly promising strategic investment for a multitude of reasons.

The outlook for lithium

As electrification and clean energy continue to gain ground in the EU, demand for lithium, one of the core metals involved in electric vehicle production, has increased exponentially. In 2021 alone, lithium prices skyrocketed, rising by nearly 500 percent. It has been estimated that if supply does not increase significantly, an imbalance might hit as early as 2027.

"There's a growing disconnect between available supply and surging demand," explained Ken Brinsden, chief executive of Australian mining company Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) "There aren’t enough projects that have been invested in the previous years that could come online. The short term response is definitely going to be tight. If only we had three years ago another mine fully funded when prices were low we would be in balance this year."

Because it is home to one of the last remaining graphite mines in the Alps and hosts multiple major automotive manufacturers, Austria is already well positioned to seize on the growth of the electric vehicle market and the future of e-mobility.

What is the current state of mining in Austria?

From a regulatory perspective, the Mineral Resources Act, which governs and regulates Austria's mining sector, is highly favourable for both domestic and foreign investors. This largely comes down to how mineral resources and deposits are classified under the act. Each deposit falls into one of the following two categories.

  • Freehold: All mineral resources listed in the Austrian Mining Law (various metals, crude oil, natural gas, coal, salt, fluorspar, heavy spar and others) are withdrawn from the property owner. The freehold mineral resources have no ownership and are administered by the federal government. Ownership of them can only be acquired through a granting process controlled by the federal government.
  • Freely mineable: The property owner only has the right to mine so-called property-owned mineral resources (for example, sand, gravel, gypsum, clay, roofing slate and others).

Austria's Mineral Resources Act is also noteworthy for the relatively administratively light-handed approach it takes towards exploration and discovery. To search for freehold and freely mineable resources, a business need only notify Austria's mining administration. Exploration and analysis require prospecting permits, while extraction and production require mining authorization.

While there are a few other requirements around waste management, registration and sustainability, they are all relatively straightforward to secure.

Many of Austria's towns and villages have their roots in mining as well. This has served to drive considerable innovation within the mining sector. More importantly, it means that there is no shortage of skilled labor in the region.

European Union: Critical metals and a green future

The EU participates in the European Climate and Energy Framework 2030, a program focused on practical objectives that can move the world towards net neutrality. It highlights how European solutions are needed to efficiently and cost-effectively bring security of supply and climate protection together in the energy transition. Pursuant to the European Green Deal, this continent plans to to become the first climate-neutral continent.

Economic importance and supply risk are the two most important parameters when determining criticality for the EU. The former deals in detail with the attribution of end users of raw materials on the basis of industrial applications. The latter parameter determines the concentration of global production of primary raw materials and supply to the EU at the country level, highlighting major suppliers like Austria. It also considers the governance of the supplying countries, including environmental aspects, the contribution of recycling, substitution, the EU's dependence on imports and trade restrictions in outside countries.

The European Battery Alliance, launched in October 2017 by European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, is meant to ensure that all Europeans benefit from safer traffic, cleaner vehicles and more sustainable technological solutions. The intention is to achieve this through a localised supply chain. The economic upside is clear: the market will have an estimated annual value of up to 250 billion euros by 2025. Lithium is a critical component of this stable, sustainable supply that supports a green economy.
infographic with house and car

Largest producing mines in Austria

In 2016, Austria was home to more than 1,100 mining and quarrying operations, Materials produced by Austria include iron, graphite, salt, tungsten, magnesite, limestone, gypsum, anhydrite, kaolin, talc, leucophyllum, dolomite, quartz sand and oil shale.

Erzberg

The massive Erzberg open-pit iron mine is located in Eisenerz, Styria. Operated by Voestalpine (VIE:VOE), the mine is the site of the largest iron ore deposit in Austria. Located 60 kilometres northwest of Graz and 260 kilometres southwest of Vienna, it produces approximately 2.153 million tonnes of ore a year.

Mittersill

Located 30 kilometres south of Kitzbühel, the Mittersill mine is built atop the largest scheelite deposit in the EU. Also known as the Felbertal mine, MIttersill is a major source of tungsten trioxide, producing an average of 1,200 tonnes of the mineral per year. The mine is owned by Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten, a subsidiary of Swedish multinational engineering firm Sandvik (STO:SAND).

Hallein

Bordering the city of Salzburg, the federally owned Hallein salt mine is one of the oldest active mining sites in the world. Operational for over 7,000 years, the underground mine doubles as a mining museum. In 1829, the mine actually grew large enough that it crossed over the border to neighboring Bavaria, resulting in the Bavarian-Austrian Salt Treaty.

Kaisersberg

The last active graphite mine in the Alps, the Kaisersberg mine, first began production as early as 1755. It is owned by Grafitbergbau Kaisersberg, a privately owned business based out of the town of Kaisersberg. The mine is linked directly to both local and international railway systems for more efficient delivery.

Breitenau

Located in the province of Styria in Central Austria, Breitenau is one of the largest underground magnesite mines in the world, and the largest magnesite operations in Austria. It's owned and operated by Veitsch-Radex, a subsidiary of RHI Magnesita (LSE:RHIM). Veitsch-Radex also owns two other magnesite mines in Gulsen and Millstatteralpe/Radentheim.

Current mining exploration companies in Austria

European Lithium (ASX:EUR)

European Lithium's current project, the wholly owned Wolfsberg project, is located 270 kilometres south of Austria's capital, Vienna. Just east of the industrial town of Wolfsberg, it is comprised of 22 original and 32 overlapping exploration licences and a mining licence covering 11 areas. Situated close to comprehensive existing infrastructure, the project is built atop a foundation of extensive testing, exploration, mining and prefeasibility studies conducted by prior owners.

The current resource is 9.7 million tonnes at 1 percent lithium oxide. This paves the way for a definitive feasibility study slated for Q3 2022. The company believes that the mine has potential for a lifespan of between 12 and 15 years. Based on the prefeasibility alone, the net present value is at AU$862 million, though this is expected to rise to US$1.6 billion upon the new study’s completion. The mine is expected to commence production towards the end of 2024.

Richmond Minerals (TSXV:RMD)

A mineral exploration company that has been heavily engaged in exploration projects throughout Quebec and Ontario, Richmond Minerals recently expanded its focus from Canada to Austria with the Oberzeiring polymetallic project. Comprised of 99 claims near the village of Oberzeiring, the project is located at the site of what was formerly one of the largest silver mines in the Eastern Alps.

Aurex Biomining

Based in Switzerland, Aurex Biomining was the original owner of the Oberzeiring polymetallic project before selling it to Richmond. The company also maintains a gold project of approximately 20 square kilometres near the town of Pusterwald. The company is also pioneering a unique environmentally friendly biomining process.

Takeaway

Austria's mature mining infrastructure, industry-friendly regulatory climate, role in the automotive market and emerging mining projects make the country a strong contender for future investment. As the drive for electrification continues, the region has the potential to play a pivotal role in the development of the EU's lithium supply chain. Initiatives such as European Lithium’s Wolfsberg project have the potential to help immensely in this regard, particularly given Austria's proximity to multiple operating and proposed gigafactories.

This INNSpired article is sponsored by European Lithium (ASX:EUR,FWB:PF8).This INNSpired article provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by European Lithium in order to help investors learn more about the company. European Lithium is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this INNSpired article.

This INNSpired article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with European Lithium and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

EUR:AU

Ioneer Ltd is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture with Sibanye Stillwater Limited to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA . Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer …

Ioneer Ltd (“ioneer” or the “Company”) (ASX: INR) is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture (the ” Joint Venture “) with Sibanye Stillwater Limited ( “Sibanye-Stillwater” ) to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA (the “Project” ). Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin 1 upon the election of Sibanye-Stillwater to contribute up to an additional US$50 million subject to certain terms and conditions.

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business people stacking wooden blocks

Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects during the year's third financial quarter.

After hitting all-time highs in 2021, lithium prices started to stabilise in 2022's first quarter.

China’s lockdown measures to battle COVID-19 have disrupted the supply chain and impacted domestic demand in recent weeks, but this is expected to be temporary, according to William Adams of Fastmarkets.

“The lithium market is very tight. We don't see that easing anytime soon,” he said during a recent webinar about risks in the battery metals market. “We think the underlying fundamentals and the trends are still very strong.”


During the third quarter of the financial year, Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects, and despite the increased volatility in the markets, many ASX lithium stocks saw share price gains as well.

Perth-based Pilbara Minerals' (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) production for the quarter was 81,431 dry metric tonnes (dmt), slightly down compared to the previous three months, but within guidance. The company said the main factor impacting output was higher COVID-19 cases, which resulted in staff and contractor shortages.

“COVID-19 has (and may continue in the near term) to cause operational delays, including staffing shortages for both shut-down and operating staff (mining and processing),” the company said in a statement. Even so, Pilbara has decided to maintain its production guidance in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt.

During its fourth battery material exchange auction, the company saw the highest bid ever at US$5,650 per dmt for a cargo of 5,000 dmt of spodumene, showing the critical shortage in lithium raw material supply.

Western Australia-focused Pilbara, which owns the lithium-tantalum Pilgangoora operation, has partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460), General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), POSCO (NYSE:PKX), CATL (SZSE:300750) and Yibin Tianyi.

Shares of Pilbara were trading at AU$2.53 on May 10, down 28.13 percent year-to-date, but up more than 100 percent compared to this time last year.

For its part, leading Australian lithium and iron ore miner Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN,OTC Pink:MALRF) saw its Mount Marion mine’s production reach 104,000 dmt during the quarter; it also shipped 94,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate. The company is maintaining its full-year production guidance at 450,000 to 475,000 dmt.

In April, Mineral Resources and partner Ganfeng agreed to optimise production and upgrade Mount Marion's processing facilities. Spodumene concentrate capacity at the operation is expected to increase from 450,000 dmt per year to 600,000 dmt annually.

“The decision to upgrade the plant reflects an expectation that the lithium market outlook will remain extremely strong for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a press release. A second stage increase, expected to be completed by the end of 2022, will see capacity rise further to reach 900,000 dmt.

Aside from Mount Marion, the company holds interests in Wodgina in partnership with another top producer — Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). The companies decided to restart Wodgina last year as a result of soaring global lithium demand. The mine produced its first spodumene concentrate on May 12.

“(We have) also agreed to review the state of the global lithium market towards the end of this calendar year to assess timing for the start-up of Train 3 and the possible construction of Train 4,” the company said. Each train has a nameplate capacity of 250,000 dmt of 6 percent product.

Mineral Resources’ share price was down 10.71 percent on May 10, trading at AU$52.71. That said, the stock is up 9.11 percent year-on-year.

During the March quarter, Argentina-focused Allkem (ASX:AKE,OTC Pink:OROCF) outlined its plans to increase lithium production threefold by 2026 and become a top three chemicals supplier.

In Western Australia, the company owns the Mount Cattlin mine, which produced 48,562 dmt of spodumene concentrate and shipped 66,011 tonnes in the March quarter.

“Strong conditions in the spodumene market are supporting advanced discussions for spodumene concentrate pricing in the June quarter of approximately US$5,000 per dmt SC6 percent CIF on sales of approximately 50,000 tonnes,” the company told investors in a note.

In Argentina, Allkem operates the Salar de Olaroz and is developing the Sal de Vida lithium brine. Additionally, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Allkem is building a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan. The company also owns the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Canada.

On May 10, shares of Allkem were changing hands for AU$10.95, down 2.23 percent year-to-date, but up over 55 percent year-on-year.

Although its main focus is nickel, Independence Group (ASX:IGO) joined the lithium party last year after it bought a stake in Tianqi Lithium’s Australian assets. The companies, in joint venture, now control the majority of the biggest lithium mine in the world — Greenbushes.

Production at the mine was up 5 percent quarter-on-quarter at 270,464 tonnes of spodumene concentrate. By 2025, Greenbushes is expected to add around 800,000 tonnes per year to its output capacity.

IGO has seen its share price decline 4.63 percent year-to-date, trading at AU$11.34 on May 11. However, the stock is up 47.27 year-on-year.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Galaxy Resources Limited advises that the following announcement has been made to the Australian Securities Exchange which appears on the Company’s platform : Merger of Galaxy and Orocobre Implemented The announcement can be viewed at: SOURCE Galaxy Resources Limited View original content

Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) ( Company ) advises that the following announcement has been made to the Australian Securities Exchange which appears on the Company’s platform (ASX):

  • Merger of Galaxy and Orocobre Implemented

The announcement can be viewed at:

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Critical Resources

Critical Resources Limited (ASX:CRR) (“Critical Resources” or the “Company”), is pleased to advise that following on from the outstanding results from step out hole 13, which contained 23.1m of visual spodumene (ASX Announcement 17 May 2022) it has again encountered thick visual spodumene in drill holes 14 and 15. Both holes are step out holes, targeting the Pegmatite 6 zone of mineralisation at the Company’s 100% owned Mavis Lake Lithium Project in Ontario, Canada (“the Project”).

Highlights


Hole 14:

  • 17.5 metres of ~18% silvery-white, fine to large spodumene laths hosted from 143.25 to 160.75 metres of pegmatite, including:
    • 0.4 metre interval of ~50% spodumene from 149.3 to 149.7 metres downhole
    • 1.2 metre interval of ~25% spodumene from 149.7 to 150.9 metres downhole
    • 4.25 metre interval of ~30% spodumene from 156.4 to 160.65 metres downhole

Hole 15:

  • 9.7 metres of ~5% white-grey, fine to large spodumene laths hosted from 129.1 to 138.8 metres of pegmatite, including:
    • 1.6 metre interval of ~20% spodumene from 133-134.6 metres downhole
  • 14 out of 15 holes have intersected spodumene-bearing pegmatite mineralisation
  • Due to the current success of the inaugural 5,000m drill program, exploration works on 28 new targets have been identified, including 11 high priority targets (ASX Announcement 12 May 2022) . Work has commenced to extend drilling to a ~10,000m program.
  • Samples and core from completed drill holes have been sent for analysis and are expected in due course

Figure 1: ) Example of large white-grey spodumene laths intersected in core from MF22-73 (Hole 14).

Critical Resources Managing Director Alex Biggs said: “It is extremely pleasing to see further significant intercepts along strike. These results follow on from our recent 23.1m interception in hole 13 and continues to re-enforce the potential prospectively at Mavis Lake. We are increasingly excited with what the rest of the drill program will uncover, and we look forward to updating our shareholders as this drill program continues”.

Figure 2: Close up images of large silvery-white coloured spodumene crystals intercepted in Hole MF22-73 (Hole 14)

Hole MF22-73 (Hole 14)

A significant intersection of ~18% spodumene-bearing pegmatite over 17.5 metre width

MF22-73 was designed to test the down-dip extension of Pegmatite 6 and is located on strike with the spodumenebearing pegmatites intersected in holes MF22-64 (Hole 05) and MF22-72 (Hole 13). The pegmatite hosts numerous significant zones of spodumene mineralisation bounded by zones of aplite. Spodumene crystals are typically silvery-white, fine to large, subhedral-euhedral laths.

Figure 3: White to silvery pegmatite hosts approximately 18% of medium to large, white grey, spodumene crystals intersected from 143.25 to 160.75 metres depth in Hole MF22-73 (Hole 14). Close ups illustrate significant spodumene mineralisation.