Friday 18th September 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘lithium’

European Union looks to Canada and others for critical minerals supply

September 4th, 2020

by Greg Klein | September 4, 2020

The EU’s newly released 10-point critical raw materials action plan calls for development of European supplies and supply chains, as well as further re-use and recycling. But for those materials not found on the continent, the European Commission says, “pilot partnerships with Canada, interested countries in Africa and the EU’s neighbourhood will start as of 2021. In these and other fora of international co-operation, the commission will promote sustainable and responsible mining practices and transparency.”

European Union looks to Canada and others for critical minerals supply

The commission made the proclamation September 3 as part of its Green Deal, a program to achieve a climate-neutral, digital economy and “stronger Europe.” As has been the case in the U.S. over the last four years, the continent has been expressing increasing concern about security of supply for necessary resources. The EU also released an updated list of critical raw materials, the first since 2017.

Using the same methodology that emphasizes economic importance and supply challenges, the new list numbers 30, compared with 27 in 2017. Added for the first time are lithium, bauxite, titanium and strontium. Helium was dropped due to a decline in economic importance.

Heavy rare earths, light rare earths and scandium rate three separate categories. Also included are critical standbys like niobium, tantalum, fluorspar, cobalt and platinum group metals. Not exclusive to minerals, the list includes natural rubber.

Coking coal, phosphorus and silicon metal ranked among EU choices that didn’t make the most recent (from 2018) U.S. list of 35 critical minerals. Some other American exclusives not listed by the EU are helium, manganese, potash and chromium.

The commission referenced World Bank data showing “demand for metals and minerals increases rapidly with climate ambition. The most significant example of this is electric storage batteries, where the rise in demand for relevant metals aluminium, cobalt, iron, lead, lithium, manganese and nickel would grow by more than 1,000% by 2050 under a 2°C scenario, compared to a business-as-usual scenario.”

The commission’s Maroš Šefčovič added, “For e-car batteries and energy storage alone, Europe will for instance need up to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and up to 60 times more by 2050.”

Supply security can be jeopardized by reliance on a single country or company, the commission warned. “China provides 98% of the EU’s supply of rare earth elements, Turkey provides 98% of the EU’s supply of borate, and South Africa provides 71% of the EU’s needs for platinum and an even higher share of the platinum group metals iridium, rhodium and ruthenium. The EU relies on single EU companies for its supply of hafnium and strontium.”

The commission’s specific mention of Canada as a preferred supply source follows the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration that the U.S. and Canada announced in January and reaffirmed last June.

Update: Gaia Metals expands Idaho gold project, awaits field program results prior to autumn drilling

September 2nd, 2020

Update: On September 2 Gaia Metals TSXV:GMC announced the expansion of its Freeman Creek property by 263 hectares, for a total of approximately 862 hectares. The newly staked claims cover potentially mineralized extensions to the Carmen Creek prospect and an area adjacent to the Gold Dyke prospect. Both of the new areas were identified during the recent field campaign.

 

by Greg Klein | August 31, 2020

A 14-day campaign of rock and soil sampling, along with a magnetic survey, has wrapped up on the newly acquired Freeman Creek gold project in Idaho. While waiting for data, Gaia Metals TSXV:GMC has permitting underway for anticipated fall drilling.

Gaia Metals awaits summer field program results prior to autumn gold drilling in Idaho

A malachite-magnetite-sulphide sample
from the property’s Carmen Creek prospect.

Focus of the work was the 599-hecatre property’s Gold Dyke and Carmen Creek prospects, about three kilometres apart. Historic, non-43-101 results from Gold Dyke include a 1980s drill intercept of 1.5 g/t gold and 12.1 g/t silver over 44.2 metres. Among historic, non-43-101 Carmen Creek results was an outcrop sample grading 14.15 g/t gold, 63 g/t silver and 1.2% copper.

The summer program saw 222 rock samples collected throughout the property, a magnetic survey over both prospects and a 162-sample soil grid on Gold Dyke. Prospecting at Carmen Creek outlined a mineralized zone of one to two metres and veining extending five to 10 metres into the wall rock, Gaia stated. Preliminary interpretation of Carmen Creek geophysical data shows a magnetic high coinciding with the mineralization and likely reflecting the magnetite content, the company added.

The crew also verified locations of historic drill collars, adits and open pits.

“Our Phase I surface program at Freeman Creek appears to have been a resounding success, with sample mineralogy indicating we have found what we are looking for,” said president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux. “We are eagerly anticipating assay results as we advance with the Phase II drill program planned for this fall.”

Apart from the Freeman Creek flagship, Gaia’s assets include the Corvette-FCI project in Quebec’s James Bay region, location of impressive copper-gold-silver and lithium-tantalum assays. Further potential for drilling has been identified through a new interpretation of geophysical resultsGaia holds 100% of the property’s Corvette claims and a 75% earn-in from Osisko Mining TSX:OSK spinout O3 Mining TSXV:OIII on the FCI-East and FCI-West claims.

Gaia’s portfolio also includes the Pontax lithium-gold property in Quebec, the Golden silica property in British Columbia and a 40% stake in the Northwest Territories’ Hidden Lake lithium property.

Last week the company closed a private placement of $360,000 that followed a July placement of $603,000.

Gaia Metals awaits summer field program results prior to autumn gold drilling in Idaho

August 31st, 2020

This story has been updated and moved here.

Now all we need are mines

August 28th, 2020

The Saskatchewan Research Council plans commercial rare earths separation in 2022

by Greg Klein | August 28, 2020

Saskatchewan to offer commercial rare earths separation in 2022

This nondescript building will host a $31-million commercial REE facility in two years.
(Image: Saskatchewan Research Council)

 

Given China’s near-monopoly of these critical elements, the news from Saskatchewan is enormous—a commercial-scale rare earths separation facility up and running in two years. But the development is hardly sudden. The operator already boasts longstanding experience and world-leading expertise with the almost arcane endeavour. Moreover the August 27 announcement just confirms one of the ambitious mining-related goals in the province’s growth plan released last November.

Work begins this fall in Saskatoon on a $31-million processing and separating plant funded by the province. Canada’s only such facility, it constitutes a major step towards expanding REE supply chains independent of China. Operating the Saskatoon plant will be the Saskatchewan Research Council, a Crown corporation with 75 years of experience in mining-related research and technology, over 290 staff, $91 million in annual revenue and about 1,500 clients in 27 countries.

Saskatchewan to offer commercial rare earths separation in 2022

SRC assets include the world’s largest potash, uranium and diamonds labs, and its research extends to the oil and gas sector as well as to environmental studies.

The SRC has already been separating rare earths at the bench and pilot scale level. Its REE team currently employs 10 full-time-equivalent positions. The plan calls for staffing to reach 24 highly qualified FTEs in the facility, along with at least 10 more in R&D.

“SRC is a leader in the development of REE extraction and processing technologies and has worked closely with individual mining companies in Saskatchewan, Canada and globally on the concentration of REE ore for over a decade now,” points out president/CEO Mike Crabtree. “We employ world-leading experts on REEs who literally wrote the book on REE processing.”

That book—Separation Hydrometallurgy of Rare Earth Elements—was written by Jack Zhang, Baodong Zhao and Bryan Schreiner, SRC scientists of international stature.

The SRC anticipates ore or crushed sand will arrive by truck or rail from producers in Canada and the U.S., as well as potential overseas clients. Location of the tailings facility has yet to be determined.

One obvious caveat, however, is the current lack of North American primary producers. The sole exception is California’s Mountain Pass mining and processing operation. Although operator MP Materials has professed its commitment to an American supply chain, the company has been exporting its entire output to China.

Saskatchewan to offer commercial rare earths separation in 2022

New separation capabilities bring considerable advantages
to rare earths projects in Canada and elsewhere.
(Photo: Saskatchewan Research Council)

Demonstrating a non-Chinese commitment, however, is Australia’s Lynas Corp. The company operates a refining and separation facility in Malaysia to process rare earths ore from its Mount Weld mine in Western Australia. Lynas plans to open a WA cracking and leaching plant by 2023 to quell Malaysian concerns about low-level radioactive material shipped to the country. In the U.S., meanwhile, the company and its American JV partner Blue Line signed a contract last month with the Department of Defense, which would fund studies for a proposed American plant to separate heavy rare earths from Mount Weld.

But the SRC plant opens doors for potential North American sources, which last year totalled measured and indicated resources of 2.7 million tons in the U.S. and over 15 million tons in Canada, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

Fitting for the world’s second-largest uranium-producing jurisdiction, Saskatchewan will process rare earths from uranium raffinate as well as from bastnasite and monazite, the most common mineralogical sources of rare earths.

But the Chinese challenge remains formidable. Chinese domestic mining accounted for nearly 63% of last year’s global production, a drop from 70% in 2018 but a number that doesn’t include Chinese control over foreign sources. Moreover the country’s dominance of separation facilities and expertise extends its control to an estimated 70% to 95% of various points along the supply chain.

SRC is a leader in the development of REE extraction and processing technologies and has worked closely with individual mining companies in Saskatchewan, Canada and globally on the concentration of REE ore for over a decade now. We employ world-leading experts on REEs who literally wrote the book on REE processing.—Mike Crabtree,
president/CEO,
Saskatchewan Research Council

Trade and other geopolitical tensions have brought fears—backed by implied threats—that the country will “weaponize” its rare earths dominance, repeating the 2010 machinations that staggered non-Chinese manufacturing industries.

The elements are vital to clean energy, electronics, transportation, defence, medical equipment and other necessities. American concern about rare earths and other critical minerals has triggered a number of initiatives including the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration with Canada announced in January and reaffirmed in June.

But encouraging as the Saskatchewan initiative is, it hardly constitutes a slingshot to the Chinese Goliath. That country’s advantages include seemingly bottomless government subsidies, free use of black market or conflict material, and the backing of a savvy totalitarian government, according to Clint Cox. Speaking in Vancouver last January, the analyst and rare earths specialist with The Anchor House warned that Chinese dominance can’t be underestimated.

Nevertheless, the Saskatoon facility can only encourage junior mining activity. “The juniors are definitely the place where the last crop of potential mines came from, and it looks like they might be the next out there,” Cox told his January audience. “There’s some out there today.”

Among other goals, the Saskatchewan Growth Plan calls for studies into extracting lithium from the province’s brines as well as from oil and gas wastewater. The plan also considers adding nuclear energy to the province’s electrical mix from small modular reactors. Earlier this month Alberta joined Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick in a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on SMR studies.

Read more about the Saskatchewan Research Council.

Gaia Metals’ Idaho field program anticipates fall gold-silver-copper drilling

August 12th, 2020

by Greg Klein | August 12, 2020

Just weeks after signing a definitive agreement to acquire the property, this company has a crew en route for Phase I field work. Gaia Metals TSXV:GMC plans to begin verification of historic results on its Freeman Creek gold-silver-copper project prior to a drill program expected in autumn.

The team will verify locations of historic collars, adits and open pits, conduct property-wide prospecting, sampling and magnetic surveying, and carry out soil sampling on a grid across the project’s Gold Dyke prospect. The latter is one of two areas of particular interest on the 599-hectare road-accessible property, along with the Carmen Creek prospect.

Gaia Metals’ Idaho field program anticipates fall gold-silver-copper drilling

Previous work at Gold Dyke traced mineralization for 457 metres along strike and 183 metres at depth. Historic, non-43-101 trench results included:

  • 6.86 g/t gold and 199 g/t silver over 7 metres

  • 5.49 g/t gold and 130 g/t silver over 5.8 metres

  • 19.9 g/t gold, 65 g/t silver and 1.05% copper over 3.7 metres

One grab sample graded 60 g/t gold and 1,440 g/t silver.

An historic, non-43-101 drill result from the 1970s showed:

  • 0.46 g/t gold, 7.1 g/t silver and 0.1% copper over 13.7 metres

Two 1980s holes brought further historic, non-43-101 assays:

  • 1.5 g/t gold and 12.1 g/t silver over 44.2 metres

  • 1.7 g/t gold and 17.1 g/t silver over 21.3 metres

About three kilometres away, Carmen Creek underwent sampling from outcrop and former workings, producing these historic, non-43-101 assays:

  • 14.15 g/t gold, 63 g/t silver and 1.2% copper

  • 1.8 g/t gold, 43 g/t silver and 1% copper

Freeman Creek sits entirely on U.S. Bureau of Land Management turf, allowing a relatively smooth process for the drill permitting already underway. Idaho ranks #8 on the most important index of the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies.

“Verification and expanding upon the historical results are the first steps toward unlocking the potential of this asset for our shareholders,” noted president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux. “With gold achieving historic highs, our timing couldn’t be better.”

Gaia’s portfolio also includes the Corvette-FCI property in Quebec’s James Bay region, where the company has found impressive copper-gold-silver and lithium-tantalum grades. A new interpretation of geophysical data shows additional drilling potential. Gaia holds 100% of the project’s Corvette claims and a 75% earn-in from Osisko Mining TSX:OSK spinout O3 Mining TSXV:OIII on the FCI-East and FCI-West claims.

Gaia’s other assets include the Pontax lithium-gold property in Quebec, the Golden silica property in British Columbia and a 40% stake in the Northwest Territories’ Hidden Lake lithium property.

Last month the company closed an over-subscribed private placement of $603,000.

Energy storage

July 29th, 2020

It’s key to carbon-neutrality. But how to overcome raw material cost and supply security challenges?

by Ron MacDonald | July 29, 2020

The development of new, clean energy sources is of vital importance for a sustainable society. As the world, collectively, is increasingly pushing aside non-renewable sources such as natural gas, oil and coal, we look to clean energy sources such as hydro, wind and solar generation. However, in order to support the economics of renewables, energy storage allows for the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time and is the key to ensuring a carbon-neutral world.

It’s key to carbon-neutrality. But how to overcome raw material costs and supply security?

The total energy storage market is expected to grow to $546 billion in annual revenue by 2035, according to a report released by Lux Research. In the United States, the market value is forecast to increase from $720 million today to $5.1 billion in 2024 according to market research firm Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, with the U.S. already seeing a 93% increase in the energy storage systems deployed in the third quarter of 2019.

Decreasing costs in accessible technologies have driven interest in energy storage forward like never before. For example, the price of lithium batteries has fallen by nearly 80% over the past five years, allowing for more integration of energy storage into solar power systems. Even more affordable than lithium is zinc. Zinc-air batteries empower the lowest cost of energy storage in the market for long-duration applications, resolving the intermittent and unpredictable nature of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar at an economic price.

Lithium-ion cells lose their charge over time, whereas zinc-air batteries maintain their full charging capacity for the up to 20-year lifecycle of the battery. Zinc-air energy storage systems are capable of economically storing energy from eight hours to 100-plus hours. This is considerably longer than the four-to-six-hour upper economic limit for lithium-ion. The lithium-ion battery costs flatten out at six hours, while zinc-air battery costs per kWh installed become even more cost-effective over longer durations.

A look at energy storage during and beyond COVID-19

Ron MacDonald: “Zinc is abundant in North
America and its price has been very stable
over the past 20 years. All of the other major
components of the zinc-air battery are also
available in North America.”

The growth of the energy storage market is driven by the growing demand for high-capacity, safe, cost-effective and eco-friendly energy storage solutions. The global metal-air battery market size is estimated to grow from US$438 million in 2020 to US$842 million by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 14%, reports ResearchAndMarkets.com, which segments the market into zinc-air, lithium-air, aluminum-air and iron-air.

Dependency on a supply chain of hardware components, metals and chemicals, many of which come from outside North America, is a challenge for the growing energy storage industry. Metals such as lithium, vanadium, rare earths and cobalt used today in many energy storage batteries are impacted by price volatility, geopolitical concerns, security of supply, as well as coronavirus-related supply chain disruptions. Those same risks do not apply to zinc energy flow batteries.

Countries that are major producers of raw materials required for battery production have been subject to strict restrictions to control the spread of the virus. For example, Australian lithium production companies have set up strict guidelines for businesses in the industry in terms of long-distance travel restrictions. In contrast, zinc is abundant in North America and its price has been very stable over the past 20 years. All of the other major components of the zinc-air battery are also available in North America, providing a low-cost, robust and safe energy storage solution that has not been impacted by the pandemic. Zinc-air batteries offer a homegrown solution supporting the transition to a cleaner, greener post Covid-19 world.

 

Ron MacDonald is president/CEO of Zinc8 Energy Solutions CSE:ZAIR, the leader in zinc-air battery technology. The Zinc-Air Flow Battery from Zinc8 is an energy storage unit designed to serve a wide range of long-duration applications for microgrids and utilities. He can be reached at ron@zinc8energy.com and on LinkedIn.

Read Keeping the Lights On by Ron MacDonald.

Watch an online presentation from Zinc8 Energy Solutions.

Update: Gaia Metals signs definitive agreement, plans immediate exploration on Idaho gold-silver project with historic high grades

July 27th, 2020

Update: On July 27, 2020, Gaia Metals announced a definitive agreement to acquire Freeman Creek on the LOI terms reported below. Immediate plans include prospecting, mapping and sampling of historic occurrences, and potential soil sampling and ground geophysics. A possible Phase II program would drill the property to verify and expand on previous results.

On July 17 the company closed an over-subscribed private placement of $603,000.

 

by Greg Klein | June 4, 2020

Impressive earlier work in one of the world’s top-ranked mining jurisdictions has brought new attention to a neglected property. Under terms of a non-binding letter of intent Gaia Metals TSXV:GMC would pick up Freeman Creek, a 599-hectare site of previous trenching, drilling and mining. Two targets about three kilometres apart have the company especially encouraged.

Mineralization at the Gold Dyke prospect has been traced for 457 metres along strike and 183 metres at depth. Trench samples as far back as 1910 brought obviously non-43-101 results as high as:

Gaia Metals signs LOI for Idaho gold-silver project with historic high grades

  • 6.86 g/t gold and 199 g/t silver over 7 metres

  • 5.49 g/t gold and 130 g/t silver over 5.8 metres

  • 19.9 g/t gold, 65 g/t silver and 1.05% copper over 3.7 metres

One grab sample reached 60 g/t gold and 1,440 g/t silver.

An historic 1970s-era drill intercept brought:

  • 0.46 g/t gold, 7.1 g/t silver and 0.1% copper over 13.7 metres

More non-43-101 assays, from two 1980s holes, showed:

  • 1.5 g/t gold and 12.1 g/t silver over 44.2 metres

  • 1.7 g/t gold and 17.1 g/t silver over 21.3 metres

Although records haven’t been found, Cominco and BHP explored Gold Dyke for large-scale copper potential during the 1990s.

The historic Carmen Creek mine prospect has delivered samples from outcrop and former workings with these non-43-101 results:

  • 14.15 g/t gold, 63 g/t silver and 1.2% copper

  • 1.8 g/t gold, 43 g/t silver and 1% copper

The historic work at Freeman Creek appears to have only scratched the surface of this project’s potential. Coupled with a relatively simple and straightforward permitting process, we are excited to aggressively pursue this opportunity.—Adrian Lamoureux,
Gaia Metals president/CEO

Located about 15 kilometres from the town of Salmon, Freeman Creek can be reached by highway, gravel roads and trails. Last year Idaho ranked #8, up from 16th the previous year, on the most important index of the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies.

A 100% interest would cost Gaia a total of $90,000, four million shares and two million warrants within a year of TSXV approval. The company would pay an additional $1 million in cash or shares on defining a gold-equivalent resource exceeding a million ounces. The vendor would retain a 2.5% NSR, half of which Gaia could buy for $1.5 million.

In Quebec’s James Bay region, Gaia’s Corvette-FCI property has yielded high-grade gold, copper-gold-silver and lithium-tantalum grades. Announced last April, a new interpretation of geophysical data found additional drilling potential. Gaia holds 100% of the project’s Corvette claims and a 75% earn-in from Osisko Mining TSX:OSK spinout O3 Mining TSXV:OIII on the FCI-East and FCI-West blocks.

Among other assets, Gaia’s portfolio includes the Pontax lithium-gold property in Quebec, the Golden silica property in British Columbia and a 40% stake in the Northwest Territories’ Hidden Lake lithium property.

Read more about Gaia Metals.

Mining Association of Canada CEO Pierre Gratton sees additional opportunities for this country’s resources

July 21st, 2020

…Read more

Belmont Resources to begin summer program on historic southern B.C. gold property

June 23rd, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 23, 2020

Now that data on the new acquisition has been digitized and analyzed, this company’s ready to get boots on the ground, wings in the air and possibly drill bits turning. Since picking up the Athelstan-Jackpot property in southern British Columbia’s Phoenix-Greenwood camp earlier this year, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA has been busy compiling a GIS database, a process that involved “geo-referencing, digitization and interpretation of various layers of geological data, in addition to a 3D modeling exercise aimed at generating drill targets at several mineralized zones.” As a result, this year’s agenda calls for induced polarization and airborne imagery surveys, with a hoped-for drill program before the season ends.

Belmont Resources to begin summer program on historic southern B.C. gold property

IP would cover some or all of A-J’s nine mineralized zones with 100-metre linespacing reaching depths of about 300 metres to add detail to the 3D geophysical model. Planned for early July, an airborne low-level, high-resolution imagery survey would help locate and detail previous workings, showings and rock exposures over the entire property. Following that, first-pass drilling could test one or more targets.

Although “initially very excited” about the acquisition, president/CEO George Sookochoff said that having completed “the arduous task of digitizing, compiling and reviewing all the historic data, I am only now able to fully appreciate the tremendous potential the A-J property holds for the discovery and development of both near-surface and deeper gold deposits.”

Intermittent operation at the two mines between 1900 and 1940 produced about 6,979 ounces of gold and 8,234 ounces of silver from 38,665 tons of material, according to historic records. Historic, non-43-101 trench intervals from 2003 featured 6.6 g/t gold and 12 g/t silver over 3.7 metres. Other historic 2003 results graded up to 28.4 g/t gold and 166 g/t silver over 0.3 metres.

A-J forms part of the historic Phoenix-Greenwood camp roughly 500 highway kilometres east of Vancouver. Adjacently across the 49th parallel is Washington’s Republic mining district, where Belmont signed an LOI for the Lone Star property. Back on the B.C. side, the company optioned the Come By Chance claims last month, adding them to a regional portfolio that also includes the Glenora, Pride of the West and Great Bear claims, as well as the Pathfinder project.

Belmont also holds a stake in the Crackingstone uranium property in northern Saskatchewan and the Kibby Basin lithium property in Nevada.

Earlier this month the company offered a private placement up to $25,000. In May Belmont closed the final tranche of an over-subscribed placement that totalled $199,665.

Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence sees an enormous lithium shortfall by 2030

June 22nd, 2020

…Read more