Patriot Battery Metals (TSX-V: PMET)(OTC: PMETF) CEO Blair Way on Drilling, ASX Listing, Maiden Resource & PFS at Corvette Lithium District


Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the president and CEO of Patriot Battery Metals, Mr. Blair Way. Blair, welcome back. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. How are you doing this afternoon?

Blair Way: Doing great. I've been traveling on the road a bit. Back at home again and talking with the kids about Christmas. And certainly we see Christmas looming down the street, not that far. But yeah, it's been a busy December. A lot has happened, but yeah, couldn't be happier the way the project's going and the progress that we're making. And obviously the markets are what the markets are, and frustrating at times. But yeah, we've had an amazing 2022 and 2023 is shaping up to be something else as well.

Gerardo Del Real: Well listen, let's get right into it. First off, you mentioned the market. So I'll touch on that as a shareholder, a biased shareholder. It's been volatile. You've had a Canadian equivalent on the ASX side, and we'll talk about getting that listing here in a second, but a Canadian equivalent of just under $16 or definitely over $15, as high as that. And then you had quite a bit of a selloff on the Canadian side, and that's carried on over. I look at it simply as short term noise. I want to focus on the quality of the results. You just put out a press release with 113.4 meters of 1.61% lithium and two meters of 6.41% lithium at CV5. So congrats on that front. Congrats on getting the ASX listing across the finish line. I know that was a process.

So maybe let's start with the listing and then let's talk about the results, because I definitely don't want to spend five to 10 minutes talking about the ASX process of it. I'm glad you got it done. I know it was a lot of hard work. I know in the mid to long term it's going to have a lot of value to both shareholders in Canada and on the Australian side.

Blair Way: Yeah, absolutely. The ASX process was arduous. We had our Canadian legal team, our Australian legal team, and they did a great job getting through the various hurdles we had to go through. It was more than was originally anticipated / promised or what have you when we started the process, but it is what it is. We found our way through it. We obviously have seen a bit of a doldrum in our news flow as a result of it, simply because we were in a prospectus period where we couldn't be releasing any new news. So the labs were continuing to work on the assays and they were just held in the lab until they were permitted to release them to us.

So we're back. We're back to normal. We can start our normal news flow. Obviously the first press release we put out yesterday, fantastic results. Couldn't be happier, really, with every time we put out a new series of assays. This is 12 holes, which is quite a lump of holes, which is a function of the backlog that we had. But yeah, hole 66, I knew it was going to be great just simply by seeing that. We even press released a picture of the 1.8 meter long spodumene crystal. Well guess what? Spodumene crystal comes in at around 6%. So 6.4% over two meters, that's exactly what we would've expected. And to get 113 meters, 1.6% is just simply amazing. We see our peers being happy with 10 and 15 and 20 meters. So throughout this program we keep pulling out these amazing holes and, look, it's fantastic to be able to share them with the public and the investors.

Gerardo Del Real: You've now defined a pegmatite system. And mind you, we're not talking 13 here. We're talking CV5 here. The CV5 pegmatite system continues to be open in all directions. The widths, the grades are fantastic. You've defined a 2.2 kilometer length of trend here. But I think both you and I could probably say pretty confidently that that 2.2 kilometers is likely to grow. You have 38 holes yet to be reported on from the lab, and you're starting what will be the most aggressive drill program in company history here some time in January. I'll let you provide the context on all those fronts.

Blair Way: Yeah. The drilling that we've done to date, so the winter, summer, and fall program of 2022 at the CV5 corridor has defined this 2.2 kilometer corridor. So obviously the holes that we've drilled in there, the assays are pending on those and that's what we're waiting on. This most recent press release brought 12 of them in, but I think there's still 34 left or 38 left. So yeah, those assays are still to come and that will be flushing out the holes that we've drilled. The winter drill program, as you said, is an aggressive drill program. We've got five rigs, which is quite a number of rigs given some of the challenges of working in the environment or the climate that we're working in with respect to being up north and being able to accommodate multiple drill crews, helicopter pilots, and geologists, and loggers, and all the people we need to have on site.

So a five rig drill program is really pushing it people and personnel-wise, and we'll be able to use those rigs to continue to work up the lake from CV5, CV1 corridor all the way up to start drilling up towards CV4 to see how far it extends up to the east. Now, the other two rigs we are... well, initially we have the three rigs on. So two will be focused on the lake. The other rig will be actually focusing on infill around CV5 because it's important that we keep progressing that so that we can do the infill in order to establish our first maiden resource. So as the next rigs come in, we'll also be then targeting CV13. And there are 14 holes that we've drilled to date at CV13. Those assays we expect later, probably in January. Later January. Once we have those, people will better understand what we have there.

But obviously the intercepts that we've seen, we've hit pegmatite in all the holes, and spodumene-bearing pegmatite, so that's great. We need to continue to drill at the CV13 area. It is also a two kilometer corridor of spodumene-bearing pegmatite as a cluster of outcrop. So the goal is to drill in between all of those outcrops and at the outcrops to determine what that continuity looks like and, as a result, build another body or potential corridor there. And then of course there's interconnectability between CV13 and CV5. So that will probably be closer to the summer when we start looking at teasing out that connection by either heading west from CV6 area towards CV13 and vice versa, heading east from CV13 towards CV6. Not to mention the other satellite outcrop clusters that we would like to put a drill in as well.

So this winter we'll be focused on heading up the lake, further delineating or detail drilling at CV5 corridor, and then also CV13. If time permits in the winter, we'll also do some holes in some of these other satellite outcrops. But it's going to be a busy winter. We've got the snow road in there. That's partially complete now. We'll provide some updates on that over the coming weeks as part of our news flow. But yeah, we have a great deal of activity planned starting in early January, and the news flow will be pretty continuous almost on a weekly basis, is the plan, like we used to do, because we just have so much going on.

Gerardo Del Real: I have to ask... you mentioned something, and you said it quickly. But did I hear correctly that at CV13, every single drill hole, and I think there were 14 you mentioned, you've seen lithium spodumene-bearing pegmatite visually?

Blair Way: That's correct. And we've been tagging the pegmatite in those holes. And I think that information has already been shared in the various discussions that we've had in press releases and I think also in the table that's up on the website, just shows the pegmatite intercepts. So yeah, there's nothing new there. It's just we've been very fortunate that... and we're drilling under outcrop, so it's not surprising that we're tagging the pegmatite because we can see it as we drill underneath it. And yeah, we see spodumene pegmatite in the CV13... CV13 pegmatite contains the same spodumene mineralization that we see elsewhere on the property.

Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. I couldn't help but notice in the latest news release, you're starting to talk about a pre-feasibility study. So you've mentioned the winter road. You've mentioned the various outcrops and the clusters that you're drilling, the assays that are pending, the new discovery at CV13. But you're also talking pre-feasibility study now. It seems like you're firing on all cylinders and doing so simultaneously.

Blair Way: Yeah. We are getting very busy, and I am building a team in order for us to be able to do all of these various tasks effectively. So we are heading towards a pre-feasibility study. There's quite a bit of work that has to be done to achieve that. Now, that's both geologically, so drilling and building your various levels of resource to get to a pre-feasibility study. It's also all the engineering and the level of engineering to define the mine, the processing plant, the waste rock storage, tail storage, all that sort of stuff as well as just the overall mine plan. So there's a ton of work.

Now, companies head into PEAs, preliminary economic analysis. They're usually fairly high level and, to be honest, a little bit fluffy. And given the nature of what we have here and the scale of what we're working with, we see the benefit of just pushing right through a PEA and not really waste our time with the closing it out at a PEA. But what it does mean, as we push towards the PFS, the engineering will probably be more advanced, or we can advance the engineering faster than we can the drilling. Drilling is a function of the physical time it takes to drill the holes, get the assays, evaluate them, and put them into the model and the like. So by the time... our goal is by the end of next year, I think we'll have the engineering pretty well advanced. Because we understand the metallurgy and the process for designing the... to understand and detail out the work for the processing plant and what it's going to look like. And then of course the mine design ties in with the resource development.

So there is some sort of crossover there that we'll have to manage as we drill this thing out. But this summer we need to be aggressively drilling the CV5 corridor. And we're even looking at bringing in extra barge because it's not just the geological, it's also all the geotech and hydrogeological work that we have to do as well. So it is, as you said, a ton of work. So we are piling it up in a manner that is doing a lot of this in parallel instead of sequence. It's the environmental baseline monitoring and defining our impact area. All that sort of stuff. So it is a lot of work ahead of us, and we acknowledge that it's not a walk in the park. And I'm sourcing professionals to help us. Different skillsets to help us move it along efficiently as we can.

Gerardo Del Real: The tantalum often doesn't get enough credit, I believe. And you mentioned it in the release briefly. You said it continues to be a secondary commodity of strong interest at Corvette and that recovery into a marketable concentrate will continue to be explored as the flow sheet studies are advanced. That has the potential to be a... I don't want to use the word significant, but definitely a notable contributor to potential economics. Can you speak to that a bit?

Blair Way: It is an economic offset. There's different ways that you can measure it. And given the way pricing is for tantalum, we have to be very careful how we show that potential offset from a dollar point of view. So that won't be for some time. But it does have an economic impact in a positive way. We still would have to determine how best to extract it. It does appear, in the early network that we've done, it does appear to be achievable, but we need to know a lot more about it. But it is a positive offset. It is another unusual battery material or specialty material that's definitely part of the electrification of transportation and the materials that are required. So it certainly is something that we continue to consider and evaluate as we move the project forward. But the reality is that spod con is really the lion's share of the business. Tantalum offset will be nice, but I think in the scale of it, it's good but what we have here in our core, in our pegmatites and our spodumene is the real focus.

Gerardo Del Real: In a perfect world, the share price continues to make new all-time highs every month. I still believe that'll likely continue despite the volatility recently. But just to be absolutely clear, you don't need to go to the market anytime soon. You're fully funded for the most aggressive drill program the company's ever undertaken. And it's clear road from here on out, right? The trading really... it makes us feel better if the share price is higher, but it's not a terrible consequence if we go sideways for a bit here. Is that accurate?

Blair Way: Yeah. I don't like seeing it, but it's not affecting the business at hand. The fundamentals remain the same. Nothing's changed. The market is a bit skittery for a number of reasons, whether it's anticipation of free trading shares or the greater economics that are going on in the various countries driving people's sentiment towards selling or buying or whatever they're choosing to do. But yeah, we're fully funded for our winter drill program into spring. We raised the 4.2 million Aussie dollars in the ASX listing. We had the 20 million charity flow-through that we raised in September. So we're well funded. We'll just push through this. People will realize that the fundamentals remain the same, in fact are getting better. And yeah, I'm sure we'll see the market react to that in the manner that we expect. It is frustrating to see some of what appear to be games being played with our share price, but unfortunately we have no control over that. All we can do is do our job, move the project forward, and the market will catch up.

Gerardo Del Real: Still getting calls from those majors and the chemical companies and the mining companies and all those folks?

Blair Way: Yeah. As you can imagine, we have the potential to be a solution for some of the bigger problems that exist in North America in respect to raw materials. And we've had great discussions, continue to be friendly and open about what we have, and the level of enthusiasm by them is great. But again, we're fully funded to do what we need to do. We don't have to give anything up here. We just keep working away. As you know now, it's not just drill, drill, drill. It's just work, work, work. We've got to do the drilling, we've got to do the study work, we've got to do the social, community, environmental. All that stuff is now taking off in parallel to the traditional exploration work of a drill program.

So it's great. This is getting well and truly into my wheelhouse where this is what I've done for most of my career, is taking projects from discovery down the path and through permitting, through various levels of pre-feasibility, feasibility, and beyond permitting and into implementation, construction, and all that. And again, that's Ken Brinsden's experience as well. So we're well qualified to do this and work through this process. And that's... 2023 is, as I've said, big year for us. And people just need to jump on and hang on.

Gerardo Del Real: Blair, thanks for that thorough update. If Ken is ever available to come on, would love to have him on to get his take. I saw a recent presentation that played very, very well given his background, his experience. And the fact that it took him two whole weeks of looking at this thing to come out of retirement, I think speaks to the merit of the project, the team, and the near term future. Thanks again, Blair.

Blair Way: Thanks Gerardo. Great to catch up.

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