Patriot Battery Metals (TSX-V: PMET)(OTC: PMETF) CEO Blair Way on M&A Rumors, Nova Zone Extension & Drilling Out a Generational Lithium Discovery


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, it's been a bit. How are you? I know you've been busy in Australia pitching away with Ken. How's things going?

Blair Way: It's going great. We've had a great Christmas, and then we've rolled into a very exciting New Year, so there's lots to talk about.

Gerardo Del Real: Well, let's get right into it. I want to get this part out of the way because I know it's likely what a lot of people want to hear about. There is a rumor out there that you are being courted. I know from knowing you for 14, 15 years, you're probably not going to comment, and you're not allowed to comment, but I did want to go ahead and just mention the fact that everybody's aware that there's heavy buying in the market by a certain group. It doesn't seem like we've gotten past that 5% threshold because I haven't seen anything as far as documentation goes. I'm going to assume you're not going to comment, but would you like to comment?

Blair Way: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. We can't comment on it until it's factual. Obviously, everyone's seen the stories and the news that's out there, but there's nothing we can say until it's actually presented in a factual manner. As we know, the normal news is far from factual a lot of the time, so we'll deal with it when it's factual.

Gerardo Del Real: Well, let's get right into what is factual. You drilled 52.2 meters of 3.34% lithium oxide. That included 15 meters of 5.1% lithium. It was the easternmost drill hole from the 2022 drill campaign. You just had another release where you extended the strike length of CV5 by 400 meters in the first series of holes from the 2023 campaign. I think you're about four weeks in now. I can't be more excited as a shareholder about the grades and the mineralization that you're seeing to the east, and I understand you're also about to start testing the western extension of CV5. I would love for you to provide some context on that front.

Blair Way: Absolutely. And obviously, the first few press releases, news releases coming out this year talking about hole 83 and 93 and wrapping up the CV5 drill program couldn't have ended on really, a higher, greater note than we had, and we couldn't be more happy with those results. And obviously, most of our shareholders are pretty excited by it as well. And then to continue into this drilling, we're able to certainly report that what we're seeing is the Pegmatite is continuing up the lake as the assays come rolling in, and we are pushing to get those as quickly as we can. I'm not going to make any promises to delivery time, but it will be faster than we've experienced before.

And we are continuing up the lake. That was always the goal as the lake is frozen, and we can utilize that or benefit from the frozen lake to be able to be more efficient where you've got our snow road in. So we're able to move the rig around on skids instead of having to move it by pieces with the helicopter. So that's adding to the efficiency of being able to accommodate the four rigs. And we have a fifth rig coming in, as we mentioned in the press release.

So we have an awful lot going on on-site, and we are exploring either for winter and into summer how to expand it to more rigs, which is really a function of being able to expand our accommodations so we can have the people and the resources, human resources, that we need in order to drill with more rigs.

Gerardo Del Real: Rumor mill aside, Blair, it sounds to me like you are very, very focused on making sure that you define as much of what you can define in the most efficient way possible. Am I inaccurate in that?

Blair Way: Absolutely. And look, when we started out with this, we had CV5 and CV6. Let's see if we can join those. There was the hair-brained scheme of joining CV5 to CV1. And then lo and behold, that was 1.8 kilometers away, 1800 meters away. We joined that. We continued to move east. By the end of the 2022 drill program, we were 2.2 kilometers of trend; still open to the east, and still open to the west. So because of the lake, we wanted to do our water drilling in the winter as much as possible. We do have a barge, and we can use that for infill, but there are restrictions with the barge as to how steep a hole or what sort of angles you can do. So we're utilizing the benefit of their lake. Also, the fact, as I mentioned with the snow road and the ability to move the rig around on skids rather than having to use a helicopter, just makes it more efficient in many respects this winter.

So we want to drill to the east as far as we can, but we do hope later in the program that we can also, or we intend to later in the program, to also tease things out to the west, let alone CV13. And look, we have our last batch of results coming for CV13, and we expect those to be able to be put out soon in the coming days I guess. I'm just careful because I know I get quoted on these statements, but we do have to process the results. We get them, we process them, make sure we can package them up into our news releases, so people can understand them. So we're not very far away for that. So CV13 is coming soon, but we also would like to put that one of the drills over to CV13 later in the program, but it really depends.

As we work up the lake if we find it ends for some reason before CV4, well, then that's when you put a rig over to CV13. But if it doesn't end, we may be drilling all the way up to CV4. And again, we don't know until we're drilling, but the four rigs right now are focused on that side, on the east side of the eastward extension of CV5. Yeah, we just got to keep doing the work. As I've mentioned many times, it is drill, drill, and drill, and that's what we're doing. We're back at it. We don't have any restrictions or blackouts on us with respect to ASX listings and stuff. So we'll be putting out regular news. I'll be putting out weekly news, which will be talking about everything we're doing in addition to the drilling as well. We have a lot going on beyond just the drilling.

Gerardo Del Real: You've made, and I want to come back to the drilling here in a second, but you've made some corporate moves recently that I think flew under the radar, but I took as very, very important moves. Can you speak to the realigning here recently of some of the appointments to the company here?

Blair Way: Absolutely. And we've had an incredible amount of growth here. We've come from this time last year, I think we had a market cap of just under $20 million. Now, we've had a market cap of just well over $1 billion. So a function of that is growth. Now we're growing into our size and that means building an executive team that works with me as well as enhancing the board to ensure that we have the skill sets that we need to take this thing forward.

So our new CFO, Natacha Garoute, is an amazing addition, and we couldn't be happier that she was happy to join us. And she's been with us for a couple of weeks, and she's doing a great job, and we couldn't be happier. And of course, Alex and Andre joined us with our social and environmental work, and they also are doing an amazing job, couldn't be happier. And their experience from Osisko and Natacha's experience with Champion Iron, it's a great team. And then Melissa Desrochers joined us on the board as well, bringing some ESG and very much Quebec-centric focus.

And we are a Quebec asset, so we need to have that focus and that skillset within our management team and also on our board. And there'll be more changes forthcoming as we continue to grow and define the skillsets that we need. And of course, they'll be enhanced with the best possible people we can find, and really the way the asset is developing, and I guess the level of attention and the profile that we have, enables us to attract the quality of people that we’ve been able to bring in so far. And we continue to expect that to be the case.

Gerardo Del Real: There's been a lot of speculation about the recent roadshow in Australia. Clearly, the company does not need money. You're very cashed up. It's a robust treasury. You have five rigs going, four rigs with one on the way. You're looking to be very aggressive. Can you speak to the purpose of that show, and just how that went for you, Blair?

Blair Way: Well, as you can imagine, we did the ASX listing, and for a large part of it, I was still over in North America doing stuff over there. So the ASX listing was December 9th. So this has really been our first genuine opportunity to get on the road and talk to a lot of the Australian funds. We'd had some pre-ASX listing roadshows, and those went great. But this one... Australia was back after Christmas and the Australia Day break, and this was really our first opportunity to just go around and talk to the people that are now able to invest on the ASX and buy PMET.

So there's always been a great deal of interest. As you know, the number of successful hard rock lithium stories that exist down here are quite significant, so people are aware of the potential of what we have with the Corvette property. And yeah, the level of reception has been great, and we continue to plan roadshows. We got a pretty busy calendar here in Australia, and also in the US. And in Canada, obviously, PDAC coming, BMO, all those things is... It's a full schedule to keep existing shareholders informed but also to continue to look for new other great shareholders to bring on board. And there's a ton of interest.

Gerardo Del Real: I have to believe that you and the geologists are out of this world excited for the grades and the widths of mineralization that you're seeing on the eastern extension of CV5. Can you tell me about that a bit?

Blair Way: Well, the grades that we've seen on the eastern side, hole 83, hole 93, hole 17, and there's a bunch of other ones there that are in that high-grade zone. Which we now named the Nova Zone, which is just to help people understand it when we talk about it rather than just the high-grade zone because maybe there'll be more than one high-grade zone. But with the Nova Zone, we certainly have found something pretty spectacular, and we hope that we'll see that zone continuing up east. But again, the assays will tell us what we have. But it's quite substantial and there are not many places in the world, and there is one place in Western Australia that is well known for those grades.

We'll leave it to be determined by those that are listening. They can figure out who it is. But it's making the Corvette project become that much more unique and special, especially given that its significance in scale that we're demonstrating with the drill bit. It's also the jurisdiction that we're in that is so supportive of the mining industry, especially for green materials. And then also just the jurisdiction or the regional market that's growing here in North America and the desire to be able to find North American source materials. So those three things combining just make what we have something again, quite spectacular.

Gerardo Del Real: Rumor mill aside, how focused are you on getting this resource estimate out, this maiden resource estimate out in the first half of this year? Is that on track still?

Blair Way: It is. I mean there are some potential distractions, but we will just continue to beaver away with the drill bit, and do what we have to do in order to get to certainly our first, our maiden resource, which will be mostly inferred. And yeah, we still are aiming for Q2, probably the end of Q2, the way things are going. The big bigger it gets the bigger the challenge to meet the schedule. But we're certainly striving for that, and advice will be forthcoming if for some reason that changes. But certainly, we're aiming for Q2.

Gerardo Del Real: I'm supposed to ask you from one of my Twitter people that I've never met, but they're very real, why you don't release cross-sections on every release. And I know the answer, but I figured I'd ask you anyway.

Blair Way: Yeah, it's a very telling question. That's probably the one question I had all last week. The main way... And I got pretty slick at being able to explain why we're not putting sections out is because it's basically, it's a pegmatite-intrusive body, and the majority of sections that are I see put out by some of our peers or whatever you wish to call them, I feel are misleading. So we don't want to go down that path. Once you put a section in, it becomes a... It has to be a cartoon section. It can't be one that's drawn off the scientific model because the way a scientific model in the lack of data, it pinches out. That's not correct. It's just how the model works. So if we put out a section that shows everything pinching out below our last hole, people are going to misinterpret it in a negative way.

Alternatively, we can draw a nice stick figure or cartoon section, and it implies it could be swelling at depth, which is what you can say. Either way would be misleading. So in the absence of being able to provide... If the information we provided to professional geologists who look at sections as part of their career and understand the true meaning of that section, then we're happy to put it out. But it's not like say a stratified formation where there is a higher level of interpretation that you can make.

Igneous intrusive bodies can pinch and swell and move around. And until we drill this thing out until we can provide a number that goes along with those sections which will tell people what the resource is, that's the time that we can share that data, and we'll feel comfortable that it's not going to be either misleading in the positive or misleading in the negative. So in the absence of being able to do that, we're just not putting sections in. People don't like it. I get it. But I don't want to be that company that provides a section that either misleads in a positive way or a negative way. Until we feel it can be properly interpreted, then it will stay as it is.

Gerardo Del Real: I got to ask you Blair about holes 105 and 106. Those were collared on strike eastward of the Nova Zone, the high grade Nova Zone. You describe it in the release as the pegmatite widening at the location and depth along strike. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Blair Way: Yeah. Obviously, as we're drilling out there, we have to put more and more holes to understand. But yeah, we're seeing some... I guess, again, I have to be careful what I say at this early stage, but what we said in the press release is really what we're allowed to say, and we are seeing some increase in some of the intercepts.

Now, keeping in mind that's just the pegmatite, but the pegmatite is generally host to the spodumene. It is the primary host of spodumene. So once we have the assays, we can talk at length about what that means for the bigger picture, but obviously bigger the intercept, the greater the chance of a larger amount of mineralization.

Gerardo Del Real: Anything to add to that Blair? I keep telling everybody that I speak with that tells me, "Gerardo, you got to take profits. This thing's gone from 16 cents when you got into it to $16.” And I keep responding with the fact that if I look at peer comps of companies that have 200 million tonnes at similar grades or 300 million tonnes, I can name a couple that aren't anywhere near what I would call a tier-one jurisdiction that have market caps of $4 and $5 billion. Patriot is far, far away from that. And so, I would encourage anybody that may be new to this story that thinks they missed it to look at some of the peer comps because I do believe at the end of the day, whether Patriot gets taken out or not in 2023, you have the goods, and you're going to end up with a pretty robust maiden resource estimate that'll be followed up by an even more robust follow up one. Anything to add to that or any comments there?

Blair Way: Well, obviously, we're not financial advisors. We can't give advice to people how they make their investment decisions, but it is always a good recommendation to not just look at share price to understand where the share price is going. You've got to look at the underlying fundamentals, and it's not often you come across an asset, a property in a jurisdiction as favorable as we're in with the potential that we have. And we have continued to been able to drill it out and demonstrate that potential step-by-step methodically. And that goes along with the fundamentals of is it a good asset? It appears to be. How do you prove it? You got to keep drilling it. I'll leave my passing comments that seem to be resonating well with people as just drill, drill, and drill, and that will demonstrate the value that's beyond what the share price says or beyond what share price has shown to date. That's what the drill is for.

Gerardo Del Real: A lot to look forward to. One last question, Blair. I have a hard time believing that the first couple of pegmatite clusters that you drilled out just happened to be the best ones on this 50, 60 kilometer trend. Do you plan on getting a rig or two out to do some, we can call it wild cut exploration drilling, we can call it exploratory drilling, call it whatever you want. Are you going to see if there are other pegmatite clusters that are as fertile as the ones that you've identified to date?

Blair Way: Absolutely. And really, ideally, this winter we can get a drill over to CV13 to continue to test that, but yes, we have eight and nine and 10 and 12 yet to be drilled. And of course, we have a summer program this summer which is going to send the field crew back on the ground. And last year they discovered CV13, which is a two kilometer trend of spodumene-bearing pegmatite that we didn't know of before. Part of that land was land we didn't own before, so that was why it hadn't been identified before. But also, we just had not had the time on the ground.

The guys did an amazing job last summer. I think it was four of them on the ground for about 10 weeks. We're going to do the same thing. They only did about 20 odd Ks last year. We got another 20 odd Ks to do this year. And absolutely, there's always that opportunity that they find something we hadn't even imagined was possible. But certainly, we're very happy with what we're finding with CV5 and its extension up the lake. But you're absolutely right, there's still lots of blue sky left with respect to drill targets. We have still enough drill targets probably to accommodate five juniors who would be very happy with just one of them. We're just very happy to be well endowed, so as to speak, with a good portfolio of property that we just need to continue to work through.

But this summer, I don't know, I think it'll be more this summer when we'll be able to actually test some of these other outcrops or pegmatite clusters to the west. And it really is a function of timing and of course, more rigs the merrier, but of course, more rigs means more accommodations. So there's quite a bit of logistical undertaking that we have to do in order to accommodate that. And as you can well imagine, we are looking at what we can do with respect to increasing our accommodation, which then in turn facilitates the ability to increase the number of rigs, but we can't say we're doing it yet until we know exactly what that looks like and what the timelines are to get the accommodations in place.

Gerardo Del Real: I know there's a lot you can't say, Blair, let me give you my non-geo, simple person, simple premise take. I think a lot of this is one big blob of spodumene-bearing rock, and I think you're going to do a lot towards connecting that here in 2023, and I'm looking forward to seeing if that proves to be accurate or not. It certainly seems that way, again, to my simple non-geologist brain.

Blair Way: Well, as I mentioned at the very start of the conversation, we started out with the hair-brained scheme of connecting CV5 to CV6, which was 300 or 400 meters away, and then we did the 1800 meters to the east to connect to CV1. Now, suggesting that all the way up to CV4, which was three kilometers away. I think we're slowly eating away at it. It's only two and a half away now. The ability or the possibility of connectivity between some of these clusters is certainly appearing to be possible or more possible than we anticipated in the past, and again, comes back to the drilling. We just have to drill more, and the more we drill the individual clusters and connect those, and then we tease out from each end towards each next cluster and see how that interconnectivity reveals itself.

Gerardo Del Real: I know we're days away from CV13 results. Looking forward to chatting and catching up then. Good to have you back on Blair. As always, thank you for your time.

Blair Way: Thanks, Gerardo. Always great to catch up and provide an update of where we're at but absolutely 2023 is going to be a cracker of a year, and I'm sure we'll be talking many times.

Gerardo Del Real: Looking forward to it. Thank you.

Blair Way: Thanks.

Click here to see more from Patriot Battery Metals Inc.