Patriot Battery Metals (TSX-V: PMET)(OTC: PMETF) CEO Blair Way on Advancing & Derisking the Largest Lithium Deposit in North America
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today to help me get my YouTube numbers up is the president and CEO of Patriot Battery Metals, Mr. Blair Way. Blair, how are you? It's good to have you on again.
Blair Way: Hey, Gerardo. It's great to be here.
Gerardo Del Real: Let's get right into it. I reached out to get an update, obviously got to get the formalities out of the way. You had a news release providing an operational update on the work programs. As we all know, exploration in Quebec has basically ceased for the time being as a precautionary measure to ensure that no new fires are starting. It looks like the weather may want to cooperate with us here in the next several days. How are things on the ground? What's your take on it?
Blair Way: Well the good news, everybody's safe. There's no one at risk. The fires are a fair distance away, over 100Ks away. So where we have been working is safe. Everyone has stood down as through a request by the Quebec government, and the main reason is to prevent any further fires possibly being started. I think many of them are started by lightning and the like, but they have requested that people just stay out of the forest to ensure that there's no more started. They're trying to get the existing fires under control and put out, and obviously we are very respectful of the process and they've requested us and we comply with those requests. But the good thing is that our equipment up there, which is obviously still there, stood down, is not at risk based on the current fire risk. And we certainly expect and hope that the weather cooperates and we see a bit of the late spring rains and that'll start to settle things down a little bit.
Gerardo Del Real: So just to be clear, the rigs are still on site, is that accurate?
Blair Way: That's correct, yeah. Everything is on site. In some cases we've just secured it to make sure it is safe just in case something came through, but we really don't see any indicators that that's going to happen.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent, excellent. Let's get to your recent appearance on BNN. You were pretty, I don't want to say hell-bent, but I'm going to say it sounds like you're hell-bent on making sure that that maiden resource estimate is released in mid-July. Is that still the working thesis there?
Blair Way: Absolutely. As you know, we have 27 holes remaining for assays. They are trickling in. They are being incorporated into the main resource, but we will as always promised, we will put out those assays when they're available.
Gerardo Del Real: You're not holding onto the cores, Blair?
Blair Way: No, no. They do come in, yes. We don't put them out daily. We do put them out in bunches because that's just a sensible way to put out assays. Each news release is time-consuming as you go through the process, so we do generally do them in fairly big blocks, so we do have 27 left, whether it's one or two news releases. We'll see how it flows in, but expectation is they will be in time. The most critical thing is that we get them in time to feed into the resource and we're confident that we will. So keep your eyes tuned.
But we have had regular news flow, not always assays, but we do have regular news flow as we're continuing to grow and evolve as a company. We mentioned our VP project development coming in. We've got some other changes that are happening as we grow the company to fill into the scale of not only our market cap but also what we have laid ahead of us. We're now not just drilling exploration, we're now doing delineation drilling. Once we get back on the ground, we're doing PFS work, we're doing our baseline environmental monitoring. All those sorts of things feed into the growth of the company. So we have a lot going on and we will provide updates, regular news regularly so that people know what's going on. But it'll be not just assays, it's all the activities that we do and that's what feeds our news flow.
Gerardo Del Real: I'm glad you touched on the new VP of project development because I got to say, Corvette to me is the most advanced project pre-maiden resource estimate out there. The amount of work that you're doing at this stage is significant and has deep value, and I know for a lot of retail investors maybe it doesn't translate. Everybody wants assays. Everybody wants to see a new discovery, but it's important work. Can you speak to the gentleman that you appointed as VP of project development?
Blair Way: Well, Greg comes on board as an ex-BHP in a few other fairly large companies. He has a very similar skillset to my background, but obviously I'm looking after the whole company and I can't just delve into the detail. That's where Greg comes into his prime. He's used to these capital works projects. He's used to driving the study work. We need to move these things forward. Also, having someone like Greg onboard this early allows us to really sink our teeth into some of these capital works projects such as building the camp, building the road, building the power lines, all those sorts of things we need for this early stage work that we're doing to continue to ensure that our geologists can focus, like Darren, can focus on the task at hand with the drilling.
If we have our geological team or our team at site helping with camps and that is distracting. So what this really allows us to do is we build the company's team out. We can keep or ensure that everyone's able to focus on the tasks at hand. So Darren, and he's quite happy that he's able to focus back on the exploration. Greg's working with all the capital work stuff. We've got Alex with our VP ESG. She's working with all the permitting, the First Nations, community relations, stakeholder management, all these key elements to taking the project forward.
It's not just drilling holes anymore. There's a ton of activity to get a project like the CV-5 project discovery down the path of PFS to FS and beyond, and that's, as you know, that's where we're heading. That's my background. That's where I come from, taking discoveries, turning them into projects and down through the development cycle, turning it into an operation. And that's really where we're heading with CV-5, but we believe there are other CV-5, shall we say, on our property that we'll continue to explore and delineate and present.
Gerardo Del Real: Several people, including myself privately, have speculated that there's the potential here for multiple company makers. You have 50 kilometers of trend, a tiny portion of that has been explored. Is it a possibility in the future, if the right offer came along, to split up the Corvette district into different parts?
Blair Way: That's a good question. The reality is we still have to do the work to define what's there. We drilled out essentially at CV-5, 3.7 kilometers, which is only 3.7 kilometers of a 50 kilometer trend. CV-13 is 2.3 kilometers, so we need to keep drilling that and see what that discovery looks like. But keep in mind, CV-13 is only 3.8 kilometers away from CV-5. If we close that gap, we're going to have a problem because we've got to figure out what to call it. Is it CV-513? I don't know.
But if you look at some of the deposits that we've been to in Western Australia, many of them, whether it's Green Bushes or Kilimanjaro Pilgangoora at Pilbara site, they often stretch over 10 to 15 kilometers or certainly 10, 12 kilometers. So it's not unrealistic that we may have the same sort of continuity, but the drill bit, we need to use the drill bit to prove that, and that's really what this summer's drill program is all about. Once these fires are behind us, we'll get back on the ground. If we have to accelerate a little bit, well that's what we'll have to do. We just compress the drilling into a shorter period of time. It's manageable. We just have to manage the resources in respect to people and also accommodations and the like.
But again, it just comes back to we're just scratching the surface to try and even imagine divvying it up or something to various interested parties. Not sure what that would look like at this stage, but let's walk before we run, let's demonstrate that we have multiple CV-5s. And as we progress through there, I think we'll also probably have a few people knocking on the door at the same time.
Gerardo Del Real: You answered my next question, but I want to follow up on it. You mentioned how flexible you are with the drill rigs on site. You mentioned being able to accelerate the drilling and condensing it. What does that look like? Let me play devil's advocate. Let's say that mother nature cooperates, but it takes another several weeks for the warnings to kind of subside from the government and to be able to get in there with their blessing and start drilling again. How nimble can you be and how accelerated can a drill program be this summer?
Blair Way: That's something obviously we're looking at right now. So as of the beginning of this week, we obviously had this little mini crisis come into play where we can't have the drill rigs on the ground right now. So what we're really looking at is what can we do in the future? So one of the things is, for example, to allow us to be able to drill in the foggy season would be late October, November. Normally the helicopters are down and that means we can't drill. But if we could turn our snow road into an all weather road enough so that we could gain access by vehicle during that time, that could buy us some time in the fall. Alternatively, we can look at compressing, in other words, adding more rigs over the shorter period of time that we have to drill. That creates some accommodation challenges, which we're also looking at. As you know, we are building an 80 man camp. We may end up just accelerating or putting more accommodations in there to accommodate more people, which means more rigs.
So more rigs not only means more people for drilling, it also means more geologists. So if you're drilling faster, you've got to process that core otherwise it backlogs up quite a bit. Even with the six rigs we had this winter, it was surprising how quickly the three we have, I think we have three lines of core processing right now, how quickly it backs up. So you just need to stay ahead of the core. So obviously we're looking at all the options that we have there. We still are testing the sort of concepts and seeing where we'll end up and also waiting with bated breath as to when we can find out we can get back on the ground again when we get released back into the forest.
Gerardo Del Real: How's the treasury looking? Obviously you're not spending money right now drilling.
Blair Way: Yeah. Our burn rate certainly has gone down, not necessarily in a way that we'd like. But yeah, we're not really burning through a great deal of dough right now. And so what this does is defer that, which means we are just extending the other end of with the cutoff or when we need to top up again, that's being pushed out again because we're not spending the money right now.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. I was looking forward to an exploration update. Obviously that's going to have to wait a bit until the fires cease and you get the green light to get back at it again. Maiden resource estimate in mid-July, 27 assays pending. Those will be included in the maiden resource estimate and then drill, baby drill. That's the plan, right?
Blair Way: As always, it's a drill baby drill is definitely it. But yeah, we also have so much work on top of that. So what's good is even though we're not drilling right now, there are things that we can do. We're still progressing. As you mentioned, the mineral resource, that's on target. Assays are coming in. We're still good, but we'd love to get back on the ground as soon as we can to keep drilling. We've got so much more exciting targets to drill, let alone what the surface program might yield with the guys tackling the other remaining 25Ks doing the field work and mapping outcrops, channel sampling, and who knows, you might find another CV-13 or another CV-14, 15, 16, 17. That's what we're looking for, more targets, and that gives us more drilling opportunities.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, the further the Corvette district advances, the more convinced I am that my $50 price target might prove conservative here in the not too distant future. When that happens, really is not consequential to me, the company or anyone else if you're holding as I am. Blair, thank you for the update. Anything else to add?
Blair Way: Nope. It's great, Gerardo. We've got lots going on and yeah, we can catch up hopefully in the next couple of weeks when we're back on the ground and can give up update on that activity. Keep your eyes peeled.
Gerardo Del Real: Looking forward to it. Thank you, sir.
Blair Way: All right. Thanks, Gerardo.Click here to see more from Patriot Battery Metals Inc.