FULL DISCLOSURE: This is sponsored content for Hertz Lithium.
Vancouver-based Hertz Lithium (CSE: HZ) is actively exploring for spodumene lithium at its 100%-owned 2,314 acre Lucky Mica Property in Maricopa County, Arizona. This early exploration stage project is situated within the Arizona Pegmatite Belt, 105 kilometres northwest of Phoenix and covers 9.6 square kilometres.
Many lithium exploration efforts in the US are focused on lithium-bearing brines and clays. For investors, Hertz is somewhat unusual, as it is a Canadian company solely exploring for spodumene lithium in the United States.
Why the Lucky Mica?
Hertz Lithium was attracted to the Lucky Mica project after previous exploration work on the property had identified at least seven distinct pegmatite zones. That discovery formed the basis for a 2017 report by SGS Canada that defined a target envelope of between 330,000 and 551,000 tonnes to a depth of 60 metres, with average grades between 0.3% and 2.5% Li2O. As a result, the company believes that a potential lithium resource could be as high as 3 million tonnes.
The property in its current state is defined as an early-stage exploration project, although early results are proving to be promising. Pegmatite outcroppings have been identified over 300 metres, with lithium, tantalum and niobium geochemistry. Surface sampling meanwhile has returned assays as high as 34,850 ppm lithium.
The Lucky Mica project is flanked on both sides by Australia-based Patriot Lithium Inc.’s (ASX: PAT) Wickenburg Lithium Project. Patriot is basing its exploration efforts on the historical lithium assays from the Lucky Mica property rock samples, which included results as high as 7.5% Li2O.
Although an extensive pegmatite swarm has been identified over an area of at least 40 square kilometres, the Wickenburg property has yet to be tested by drilling. It appears though to be well-suited for low-cost surface exploration. Like the Lucky Mica property, some of the pegmatite targets are well exposed and easy to access.
After reviewing the Lucky Mica Property’s extensive and comprehensive historical database from previous exploration efforts, Hertz initiated a field exploration program in May 2023. This program is to consist of general prospecting, trenching and sampling of pegmatite outcrops, and structural mapping on the Lucky Mica Property.
Trenching is to consist of 20 trenches ranging in length from 30 to 100 metres across the pegmatite strike. Channel sampling will occur at one metre intervals under the program.Also to be included under the phase 1 program is data compilation, geochemical analysis and geophysical targeting.
A subsequent phase 2 program will then consist of exploratory drilling, with the company indicating that the program will consist of 1,500 metre in aggregate, with ten holes to be drilled.
The program is already showing early results. On June 6, 2023, the company announced that its exploration activities had discovered three new previously unknown pegmatite clusters, which occur as 2-6 metre wide bodies that are potentially up to 50-100 metres in length. And of the roughly 250 samples taken from the three clusters, the predominantly quartz, feldspar pegmatite mineralogy appears to be consistent with the previously identified lepidolite and spodumene bearing pegmatite.
Another 100 samples will be taken before the program wraps up in the next week or so, and these will be sent to the lab in Phoenix for analysis, with results expected within 6-8 weeks.
Due to the outbreak of many forest fires in Quebec, the government has mandated that all exploration activity be temporarily suspended until the fire danger has passed. Hertz Lithium strategic investor, Coloured Ties Capital, which has invested in a number of exploration projects in the James Bay region, has agreed to transfer its exploration personnel to Arizona to assist with the Hertz exploration team’s activities at Lucky Mica until the Quebec mandate is lifted, further advancing the ongoing program.
Patented tech for improved recoveries
In early May Hertz revealed that it had exercised an option to obtain a worldwide, remuneration-bearing license to utilize the patent rights related to the Penn State Research Foundation’s (PRSF) novel process for extraction of lithium from alpha-spodumene. Hertz Lithium has been collaborating with Penn State University’s Center for Critical Minerals to develop and commercialize the University’s patented technology, which uses microwave roasting with sodium hydroxide. This can improve lithium recovery from spodumene by up to 90%.
Electric vehicle battery manufacturers currently require a purity level of at least 99.5% lithium, and a preference for 99.99%, in order to ensure the quality, safety and performance of their batteries. The challenge for spodumene lithium extraction companies is in the separating of other minerals and impurities from the ore, to produce high-purity lithium that meets battery manufacturer specifications.
Accordingly, the company and the PSRF will enter a license agreement that will likely require Hertz to pay the PSRF a mutually agreed upon royalty, along with milestone payments based on any revenue generated by the company from the Technology. This green extraction technology will not only enhance the company’s own lithium recoveries, but can be offered to other hard rock lithium producers as a source of potential recurring licensing revenues.
Hertz Lithium has a management team with exploration and capital markets experience, and an understanding of the lithium space. And importantly, the company’s efforts are geared towards ticking all the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) boxes by implementing “green” exploration and mining practices. All in all, it appears like Hertz Lithium may be in the right industry, in the right place – and at the right time.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Hertz Lithium is a client of Canacom Group, the parent company of The Deep Dive. Canacom Group is currently long the equity of Hertz Lithium. The author has been compensated to cover Hertz Lithium on The Deep Dive, with The Deep Dive having full editorial control. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. We may buy or sell securities in the company at any time. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security.