Judging the prospects of an early-stage mineral property is an inexact science.
That’s especially true when all drilling to date, as promising as it may look on paper, is insufficient to meet federal reporting standards required of exploration companies.
Such is the case with the Zoro Lithium Project, a Snow Lake area lithium property owned by Far Resources Ltd., a small junior miner with big ambitions.
Last month, Far unveiled results from an initial seven-hole drill program at Zoro. The company said the average lithium oxide grade of the holes can be considered “world class” when compared with other hard-rock lithium projects worldwide.
“We have a lot more work to do and we are very pleased with what we’ve done so far,” said Keith Anderson, president of Far. “We’ve got a green light to carry on [with exploration].”
According to Far, the seven holes successfully confirmed promising drilling undertaken by a different company in the 1950s. Each hole intersected lithium-bearing spodumene mineralization over intervals of up to 28 metres.
“It gives us a lot of knowledge as to which direction we should be going and what we should be doing in our next [drill] program,” said Anderson, speaking from Vancouver, where Far is based.
The initial seven holes were shallow, reaching an average depth of 163 metres. Phase-two drilling is expected shortly.
For now, the company is updating its 3D model of Zoro and expects to have a completed model in the next few weeks, Anderson said.
A soft, silver-white metal, lithium is used mainly in the production of batteries, lubricating greases and ceramics, according to the US Geological Survey.
Other uses are as varied as rocket fuel and lasers, but it’s the growing demand for electric-car batteries that is currently driving the lithium market.
Zoro is situated 10 km northeast of tiny Herb Lake Landing, which in turn is located 53 road km southeast of Snow Lake.
To drill its holes, Far had crews partially disassemble a drill, fly it to Zoro by helicopter and then reassemble it on site. This is a common practice in mineral exploration in northern Manitoba.
Yet Zoro’s relatively close proximity to road, rail and the electrical grid actually works in the project’s favour, according to Anderson.
“We are very happy with the infrastructure that is nearby,” he said.
“In the mining business, infrastructure is all-important.
Anderson said he is also encouraged by support from the provincial and municipal governments.
“We’ve had extremely good cooperation from the Manitoba government, and it’s been a treat to deal with everybody in Snow Lake,” he said.
Given the preliminary nature of exploration at Zoro, Anderson is careful to temper his optimism for the project.
Zoro exploration results are currently insufficient to comply with the government’s National Instrument 43-101 reporting standards, he said, and while a lithium mine at the site would spur “a lot of jobs for Manitoba,” he could not estimate how many at this early stage.
When asked a question he is likely to hear often in the resource-dependent region of Flin Flon-Snow Lake – could Zoro be northern Manitoba’s next mine? – Anderson does not stray from the facts.
“We don’t know enough to make a statement like that, but it would be our dream that it is and we’re working towards that end – and hopefully soon,”