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Askari accelerates NT lithium hunt

ASX-listed junior explorer Askari Metals has launched an accelerated exploration program at the Barrow Creek Lithium project in the Arunta Pegmatite Province of the Northern Territory. The work will investigate the outcropping lithium pegmatites identified in an earlier round of field reconnaissance. Initial sampling found the rocks running up to 817 parts per million lithium oxide.

Prior to rolling out the drill rig Askari plans to systematically explore a high-priority area measuring eight kilometres by six and a half kilometres. The newly defined area of interest contains many of the targets generated from the recent hyperspectral survey in addition to the outcropping pegmatites previously identified.

In areas where no outcrop is visible, representative soil samples will be taken to build a surface mineralisation model with detailed field mapping already underway.

According to management a previously identified mineralised zone measuring 950 metres by 500 metres in dimension includes lithium-caesium-tantalum pegmatites and remains open in all directions. The junior explorer believes significant exploration potential remains outside the area of exploration and says other targets highlighted by the hyperspectral survey will be field tested in the current campaign.

Askari considers the sampled lithium-caesium-rubidium enriched pegmatites part of zoned lithium-caesium-tantalum pegmatite swarms and is focussing exploration to identify more extensive lithium-rich end members. Future phases of exploration will include additional infill surface sampling, mapping, drill testing and petrological studies to determine the mineralogy of the lithium pegmatites.

In basic geological terms a pegmatite is a rock that forms during the final stages in the cooling of a magma chamber and is distinguished by its abnormally large and coarse interlocking crystal structure. The name pegmatite describes the rock’s physical structure rather than its mineral composition.

The composition of pegmatites is known to vary and consequently are mined for multiple applications although it is not hard to see why Askari is chasing the lithium variety so energetically. Remarkably, the price of battery grade lithium is up a coffee-spitting 531 per cent in the last 12 months. Today, buyers of the white-hot metal are forced to pay nearly $94,000 a tonne.

If Askari can navigate the mineral maze as it looks to turn the drill bit then everyone may be wanting a slice of its pegmatite pie.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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