“Our goal is that by the end of 2023 we have advanced, through high quality exploration, both our Laguna Blanca and Jemi to a point where they are ready for preliminary economic assessments (PEAs).”
Can you introduce Monumental Minerals Corp and describe the focus of the company?
Monumental Minerals Corp. is a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition, exploration and development of mineral resource properties in the critical metals sector. The company is positioned to take advantage of the quickly changing and evolving transition from hydrocarbons to the electrification of our planet, especially in the automotive sector. The company has two high merit exploration projects: a heavy rare earth project in northeastern Mexico, and a lithium brine/cesium sediment project in Chile within the lithium triangle.
What is Monumental Minerals involvement at the Laguna Blanca project with Lithium Chile?
In March of 2022, Monumental signed an option agreement with Lithium Chile to earn a 75% interest in Laguna Blanca. The terms of the agreement are $200,000 cash and 3.4 M shares of Monumental. Over the next 3 years (by March 2025), Monumental will spend CAD $1.5 M on exploration, and make cash payments of CAD 1.5 M. This deal makes Lithium Chile Monumental’s largest shareholder, at 9.9%.
We see Lithium Chile as a valued joint venture partner. They have a track record of discovering and developing quality projects in Chile and Argentina and have tremendous experience in the region, something we hope to capitalize on.
The Laguna Blanca Project itself is located within the prolific lithium triangle, a zone within the central Andes high desert that includes Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. The Project consists of 23 exploration concessions totaling 5,200 hectares.
Can you tell us about the Jemi rare earth element (REE) project, and the potential you see for it to contain heavy rare earth elements (HREE)?
Jemi sits within the North American Alkaline Igneous Belt, an under explored north-south trend over 3000 km long of alkaline igneous rocks and carbonatites that are host to numerous REE, gold and other critical element deposits. The Jemi Project hosts numerous REE occurrences containing economic concentrations of the high value magnetic REEs including the HREEs dysprosium (Dy) and terbium (Tb), and the light rare earth elements (LREE) neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr). These REEs represent 94% of the REE market by value and are used almost exclusively for the manufacture of high performance magnets that are used in EVs, wind turbines, and other electric motors. The Project also contains associated tantalum (Ta), niobium (Nb), and zirconium (Zr).
Based on the geology and mineralization observed, there is very strong potential for Jemi to become a future source of both heavy and light REEs for the North American market. The Project is situated within the state of Coahuila, and is about 40 km south of the Texas border. The proximity to Texas is important, as it is a fast-growing North American hub for the downstream REE industry (refinement and manufacturing). Furthermore, the mineral processing of the ore mineral, eudialyte, is understood and has been figured out.
Where is Monumental Minerals focusing its exploration efforts in 2022?
Monumental will be focusing our exploration efforts at both Jemi and Laguna Blanca in 2022. At Jemi, we plan to first carry out a field program consisting of mapping, ground geophysics, and geochemistry. The results of this program will give us the confidence we need to ensure that our 2022 drill targets are positioned to have the highest probably at intersecting high grade REE mineralization. The drill program for Jemi in 2022 is estimated at 2,500 m, or about 8 holes at 300 m each.
At Laguna Blanca surface geochemical sampling and TEM geophysics was conducted by Lithium Chile over parts of the salar. These two datasets have identified highly prospective locations for drill testing of lithium brine, and cesium in the sediment. Further exploration and sampling of both sediments and brine groundwater is planned for 2022.
What is the financing position of the company and your strategy for raising without heavy dilution?
Monumental closed a $5 M private placement at the end of March 2022. The private placement consists almost entirely of well-established institutional investors who are familiar with and understand the critical metals space. We had orders for significantly more than $5 M, but elected not to increase the raise beyond what we said we were going to do to prevent heavy dilution.
In your experience, how would you evaluate Chile and Mexico as mining jurisdictions?
Chile has been a stable mining jurisdiction for several decades and that is not likely to change. There has been much talk recently about the new government in Chile and a potential new constitution for the country, including proposed articles within the new constitution that would drastically change mining laws. However, the more extreme proposals, including the nationalization of mines in Chile, did not pass by a large margin. Chile is an excellent mining jurisdiction with a skilled mining-focused workforce, and continues to be open to foreign investment.
Mexico always ranks well on the Fraser Institute global survey of mining jurisdictions. While some regions in the Mexico can be more dangerous due to criminal activity and drug cartels, the state of Coahuila (location of the Jemi project) is significantly safer. In addition, the state has a very resource-based economy that consists of iron ore, coal, base and precious metals, fluorite, and ranching.
What would you like to achieve with Monumental Minerals by the end of 2023, and do you have a brief final message about why the company is an exciting prospect for investors?
Our goal is that by the end of 2023 we have advanced, through high quality exploration, both our Laguna Blanca and Jemi to a point where they are ready for preliminary economic assessments (PEAs). Monumental is also constantly on the lookout for new projects. Therefore, by the end of 2023 we will have a pipeline of high-quality projects in the critical metals and energy transformation space.
Monumental Minerals has 2 projects that contain critical metals necessary for the global energy transformation. Over the 18 months, both lithium ad REEs have seen the largest increase in spot price of any metal. The high prices for these metals is not likely to change as demand is expected to continue to outstrip supply for the foreseeable future.