The company, which previously traded as Core Exploration Ltd, has the drill bit spinning at the wholly-owned project, boosted by a $3 million placement of 12 million shares.
Core’s binding offtake partner Sichuan Yahua and parties associated with non-binding offtake partner Ruifu subscribed for a $1.5 million cornerstone share of the placement.
The investors are two of China’s largest lithium producers.
Core’s placement will power mineral resource drilling at recently discovered Finniss prospects at the project 80 kilometres by sealed road from Darwin.
The funds will also be used for working capital and to help the company deliver an expanded scope for its definitive feasibility study (DFS), a milestone expected in the March 2019 quarter.
Core highlighted the benefits of the project two days ago, reporting: “The Finniss Lithium Project has substantial infrastructure advantages supporting the project’s development.
“(Finniss is) close to suburban workforce, grid power, gas and within easy trucking distance by sealed road to Darwin port — Australia’s nearest port to Asia.”
The company has a reverse circulation and diamond core rig on site targeting resource definition at the Hang Gong, Lees-Booths Link and Carlton deposits.
Hang Gong drilling had continued into last month, with Lees-Booths Link and Carlton prospect drilling to follow.
The company expects to release an updated lithium resource estimate by the end of January 2019 and publish further resource upgrades and estimates in coming months.
Last month Core increased the total JORC resource of its Finniss project to 7.13 million tonnes grading 1.38% lithium oxide.
The update came as the company released a maiden resource estimate for the Carlton deposit of 790,000 tonnes at 1.3% lithium oxide.
Highlights from drilling at Carlton included 17 metres grading 1.34% lithium oxide from 125 metres and 24 metres grading 1.15% from 169 metres.
Carlton is in the same 770-hectare mining lease application area as Core’s Grants deposit and is only a few hundred metres of the company’s proposed mine and processing facility.
Core's Finnis project and its proposed Grants mine in the Northern Territory
Grants forms part of the Finniss project and Core plans to develop the 117-hectare Grants resource as an open cut lithium mine targeting a pegmatite deposit containing the lithium-bearing ore spodumene.
Regulatory approvals are being sought from the NT Government and funds sought from financiers as the company seeks to open the mine by the end of 2019.
The BP33 deposit is also part of Finniss project.
The state’s Environment Protection Authority is assessing an environmental impact assessment for the two-or-three-year Grants mine, 24 kilometres south of Darwin.
A public comment period closed on December 14, 2018.
Core managing director Stephen Biggins reported in December 2018: “The global mineral resource for the Finniss project has increased rapidly from 1.8 million tonnes at the start of 2018 to 7.1 million tonnes at year end.
“Core’s management is of the view that the global mineral resource will grow even further in January, given the quality of the drilling results received from the recent exploration drilling at Hang Gong and Lees-Booths Link.
“These new mineral resources have the potential to add substantial upside to the economics of the Finniss Lithium Project, in addition to the lithium mineral resources already defined.”
Significant potential to expand the mineralisation has been identified during the Lees-Booths Link and Hang resource estimation process.
Highlights from the results included 6 metres at 1.49% from 146 metres at Hang Gong and 13 metres at 1.46% from 193 metres at Lees prospect.
A drill hole plan for the BP33 deposit at Finniss project
Core increased its number of shares by 12 million shares to 693,866,657 on January 16, 2019, after issuing its $3 million of placement shares priced at 5 cents each.
The share issue was a 1.76% dilution of voting power for the company’s investors.
Core advised in its annual report there were 633,591,657 shares on issue and 2,786 shareholders on August 31, 2018.
The company’s top 20 shareholders had 24.56% of the company.
Among the investors were top shareholder Ya Hua International Investment and Development Co Ltd with a 9.44% major stake, and a number of other smaller holders, including then number two largest shareholder Mining Value Fund Pty Ltd (1.58%) and joint number three George Chien Hsun Lu and Jenny Chin Pao Lu (1.28%).
The company had $5.5 million cash on September 30 after spending $2.5 million on its operating activities.
It subsequently received $3 million in commitments from sophisticated investors in December 2018, issuing the new shares in January 2019.
— with John Miller