14 Nov 2022

A long career in the mining industry prepared Sean Sivasamy well as he looks to turn lithium and the like into the world’s most valuable minerals.

“About 10 to 15 years ago, nobody talked about lithium,” says Sean Sivasamy, the managing director of MetalsGrove Mining Ltd (ASX:MGA).

He’s not wrong: in 2014, the average lithium carbonate price, measured in US dollars per metric tonne (mt), was $6,690.

Fast forward to last year, and it was nearly triple that, at US$17,000/mt.

“I’ll tell you a nice story, about why I have become attracted to the new energy movement,” Sivasamy begins.

“In 2016, Global Advanced Metals owned the Wodgina Lithium Project. And for some reason, they wanted to sell all their assets in Australia.

“You won’t believe it, but they sold it for A$16 million. That same asset today is worth a couple of billions.”

Mineral Resources Ltd was the buyer, and in 2019 it completed a joint venture agreement with US-based battery metals giant Albemarle.

Albemarle is the world’s biggest lithium producer. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, it is currently worth about $31 billion, and according to recent reports, is considering spinning out its lithium assets, which could be worth north of $10 billion.

MetalsGrove to the future

It’s no wonder Sivasamy is interested — not to mention confident — that MetalsGrove will evolve to be a key player in the battery metals sector.

“I was originally more focused on copper and gold,” he says. “But I could see through some of these deals that lithium and battery metals were the future.”

Sivasamy joined MetalsGrove as managing director in September last year and the company listed on the ASX in early July following an initial public offering that raised $6.4 million.

“We’re focused on the exploration and development of its portfolio of high-quality lithium, rare earth, copper-gold, manganese and base metal projects in Western Australia and the Northern Territory,” Sivasamy says.

“We’re committed to green metal exploration and development to meet the growing demand from the battery storage and renewable energy markets in the transition to a decarbonised world.”

From India to Victoria to Western Australia and the Northern Territory

Sivasamy holds a Masters in Geology from the University of Madras and moved to Australia in 2000, combining further university studies with work in the goldfields in Victoria’s southeast.

Successful stints with a number of small Victorian mining companies followed before Sivasamy moved to Western Australia in 2011 and began working with Aditya Birla Group, one of India’s largest companies with a market capitalisation in excess of $50 billion.

“I took on a role as a senior geologist with Aditya Birla and was then promoted to geology manager, looking after all of their exploration assets,” he says.

Birla once managed two operations in Australia: Nifty and Mt Gordan (now known as the Capricorn Copper mine). Nifty is now in the hands of Cyprium Metals whiile Capricorn Copper is operated by 29Metals Ltd.

“In 2011, Capricorn Copper only had about a year of mine life ahead of it. The project hosted around 22 million tonnes of resource, and the board was looking at offloading it, considering that it had not been a very attractive investment,” Sivasamy says.

“I proposed that if we invested in the project, we could add additional resources and make it more attractive to their investors.”

“We turned those 22 million tonnes into about 182 million tonnes within three to four years. 29Metals raised $1 billion earlier this year and the mine life was extended well beyond a decade.”

Following that stint, Sivasamy also worked at OreMin Global, Pilgangoora Minerals and most recently Tambourah Metals, but says it’s the potential of MetalsGrove’s WA and Northern Territory projects that excites him most.

“We are very pleased with the progress made during the September quarter, highlighted by the confirmation of significant lithium pegmatite potential at our flagship Upper Coondina Project in WA,” he says.

MetalsGrove in a nutshell

MetalsGrove has five main projects: three in the Northern Territory (Bruce, Box Hole and Edwards Creek) and two in Western Australia (Woodie Woodie North and Upper Coondina).

The Bruce Prospect is prospective for rare earth and copper-gold mineralisation and the company kicked off surface mapping and a geophysical survey last month.

That exercise, along with rock chip sampling, has highlighted multiple zones of mineralised pegmatites, strengthening the company’s hopes as it prepares to kick off a maiden drill campaign in late November 2022.

“We are delighted with the initial outcomes from this surface mapping, which further confirms the strong mineralised potential of this region,” Sivasamy says.

“This work will help refine priority drill targets for testing in our upcoming drill program, scheduled to get underway in 2022’s final quarter.

Bruce is found within the wider Arunta minefields, near Alice Springs, which Sivasamy says hosts a “suite of exciting critical metals prospects”.

“We’re systematically working through each prospect to prioritise the most compelling targets for initial drill testing,” he explains.

Across the way, MetalsGrove’s Box Hole is prospective for base metal and rare earth mineralisation while Edwards Creek encompasses the Edwards Creek copper-zinc-lead and Mueller Creek copper-gold prospects.

Investors also see the potential beneath the ground: back in September, MetalsGrove shares doubled in a day, reaching a new benchmark of around 20 cents following news the company had identified lithium pegmatite potential at Upper Coondina.

Detailed surface mapping highlighted multiple, outcropping pegmatite dykes on the property, occurring in swarms within a regional corridor extending 8 kilometres.

“Given this project has never been systematically explored for lithium, we continue to be highly encouraged by these early works,” Sivasamy says.

While it’s still early days for MetalsGrove, Sivasamy remains excited about what’s to come.

“Our team has completed a tremendous amount of pre-drilling exploration work since we listed in July, and we are now ready to commence the next phase of our exploration campaign,” he explains.

“We enter Q4 with significant momentum and a busy exploration pipeline planned for the remainder of the calendar year.”

Article Courtesy of Proactive