Chile’s global lithium giant, SQM, continues to enhance its Australian holdings, having recently acquired a 30% stake in the Calidus Resources Pilbara lithium project. This move marks the latest in a series of deals in 2023 that have seen SQM aligning with promising lithium projects and their promoters.
SQM’s involvement in Australia includes a 50-50 joint venture with Wesfarmers in Covalent Lithium, featuring the Mount Holland mine valued at over $2 billion and a hydroxide refinery in Kwinana, Western Australia.
Additionally, SQM has entered into an earn-in agreement with Tambourah Metals for the Julimar North Project in Western Australia, situated near Chalice Mining’s substantial Gonneville project.
This deal with Calidus Resources comes on the heels of SQM’s $4.2 million investment in Azure Minerals in January, solidifying its position as the largest shareholder in the lithium junior. SQM plans to further invest $15.8 million ($10.6 million) in Azure. SQM has also engaged in smaller farm-in agreements with various Australian companies, including Kalamazoo Resources and Dart Mining.
As part of its agreement with Calidus Resources, SQM will make an initial investment of $1.5 million, with the potential to invest up to A$3 million to acquire an initial 50% interest in all mineral rights at Julimar.
In the most recent deal, Calidus Resources announced that SQM will purchase a 30% stake in the Pirra project from its joint venture partner, Haoma Mining. Calidus stated that SQM’s total interest in Pirra Lithium Limited will ultimately reach 40% through a $3 million injection to support exploration efforts.
Calidus, which had an equal ownership stake in Pirra with Haoma, will also retain 40% ownership in the project by contributing an additional $2 million for exploration funding.
Dave Reeves, CEO of Calidus, affirmed that the footprint of the Pirra project in the East Pilbara has expanded, as Pirra Lithium has agreed to acquire an additional 348 square kilometers of lithium rights from Haoma. These newly acquired tenements will supplement the existing lithium rights-sharing agreements between Pirra and Haoma, initially announced in February 2022.
Mr. Reeves expressed confidence in the prospectivity of Pirra’s lithium exploration acreage in the Pilbara, thanks to SQM’s significant acquisition. With an increased landholding spanning over 1,411 square kilometers in the Pilbara, Pirra is well-funded to advance exploration efforts, focusing initially on the Tabba Tabba South tenements, strategically located along known lithium occurrences and a belt housing substantial lithium resources.
While Calidus intends to maintain its 40% ownership stake in Pirra due to the land package’s promising potential, the company will reassess its options as exploration activities progress.