With electric vehicle production ramping up globally, lithium explorers and developers are lined up for a year of substantial activity across the Americas, targeting both brine and hard rock deposits. Below are six such juniors.
ARGENTINA LITHIUM & ENERGY
Vancouver-based Argentina Lithium & Energy (TSXV: LIT; US-OTC: PNXLF) is part of the Grosso Group of companies and is led by president and CEO Nikolaos Cacos.
Its focus is its Arizaro lithium project in northwestern Argentina’s Salta province near the middle of the rich Lithium Triangle that stretches across Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, and accounts for half of the world’s lithium production.
The company says the “hyper-arid” Salar de Arizaro is the largest salar in Argentina and the third largest in the Lithium Triangle.
Argentina Lithium can acquire full interest in the 205 sq. km Arizaro property in the central part of the Salar de Arizaro at a 3,600-metre elevation by paying $6 million in stages, spending $4.2 million on project expenses over four years and issuing 2.5 million shares.
In mid-2017, Argentina Lithium drilled two holes in the Central claim block and another to the south, with the Central block holes finding minor brine at up to 356 metres’ depth, and up to 257 mg per litre of lithium and 14,653 mg per litre of potassium.
It says the hole depths were limited by equipment and couldn’t reach an aquifer, but the deepest hole (ARI-1) ended in promising sand units.
Next, a new geophysical program will test for even deeper bodies, and there may be follow-up drilling based on the geophysical results.
In late January, the company closed the second and final tranche of a non-brokered private placement financing comprised of 5.4 million in this tranche for a total of 12.5 million units at 33¢ per unit, for gross proceeds of $4.1 million.
AVALON ADVANCED MATERIALS
Don Bubar-led Avalon Advanced Materials (TSX: AVL; US-OTC: AVLNF) has refocused in recent years on its Separation Rapids hard-rock lithium deposit, 70 km north of Kenora in northwestern Ontario, while putting on the back burner its Nechalacho rare earth element project near Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.
At last count, Separation Rapids’ measured and indicated resource stood at 8 million tonnes grading 1.29% Li2O, 39% total feldspar, 0.006% Ta2O5, 0.021% Cs2O and 0.352% Rb2O. Another 1.6 million tonnes at similar grades lie in the inferred category.
Avalon completed a preliminary economic assessment at Separation Rapids in September 2016 that looked at producing high-quality lithium hydroxide from Avalon’s concentrates of the lithium mineral petalite using a hydrometallurgical technique that it developed in the late 1990s, and optimized in 2016.
In January, Avalon kicked off a $500,000 diamond-drilling program at Separation Rapids of at least seven holes totalling 1,500 metres to increase the total lithium resources in the main Separation Rapids lithium deposit, which is open for expansion at depth below 200 metres, as is a lepidolite-rich sub-unit of the main pegmatite.
Avalon aims to build a $25-million, demonstration-scale processing plant at an old industrial site near Kenora, funded in part by potential customers for Avalon’s lithium products.
Everton Resources (TSXV: EVR; US-OTC: EVRRF) is best known for its precious metals exploration projects in the Dominican Republic and Quebec, but it also has a lithium project in Ontario named Blue Sky Jackpot, 150 km northeast of Thunder Bay.
In mid-2016, Everton reported that surface samples from the property graded up to 7.08% LiO2, and that the results “prove the lithium-bearing nature of some of the pegmatite dikes,” though it cautioned that continuity and grade of lithium within individual pegmatite dikes can only be assessed through a more detailed evaluation.
Everton said that the assay results validated visual observations of spodumene during the field program and confirmed a 2 km, 300-metre-wide trend with several outcrop areas of spodumene-bearing pegmatite.
The company notes that its Blue Sky Jackpot property surrounds the Jackpot occurrence — a small, four-claim unit group in the centre of the Everton property described by E. G. Pye in a 1965 report as hosting a historic resource of 1.8 million tonnes) of 1.09% lithium oxide.
Toronto-based Lithium Americas (TSX: LAC; NYSE: LAC) stands as trailblazer in the relatively young lithium subsector, most recently evidenced by its graduation to trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 25, with over-the-counter trading in the U.S. simultaneously ceasing.
In January, Lithium Americas reported that the pond layout and design for its Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project in Argentina’s Jujuy province had been finished, with a contractor mobilized at site and production pond construction scheduled in the coming weeks.
The company has teamed with lithium giant Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) to develop Cauchari-Olaroz, with each partner holding a half interest in the mining company Minera Exar.
Lithium Americas notes that Minera Exar has over 400 employees and contractors working in Argentina, and it expects first production in 2020, reaching 25,000 tonnes per year of Li2CO3 on a 100% basis in a first stage of development before doubling in a planned second stage.
In the U.S., Lithium Americas continues to advance the preliminary feasibility study for its Lithium Nevada project in Nevada, having completed its 2017 exploration drill program on time and on budget.
Based in Elko, Nev., and focused on lithium and related battery minerals, Lithium Corp. (US-OTC: LTUM) is exploring two wholly owned lithium-in-brine prospects in its home state and several more in B.C., including flake graphite and rare earth prospects.
At its flagship Fish Lake Valley property in Nevada’s Esmeralda County, the company says it has discovered “near economic grades” of lithium, potassium and boron within a zone that measures 2.6 sq. km. It carried out a short drill program there in 2012, and intended to do follow-up work.
American Lithium optioned Fish Lake Valley and planned drilling in the second half of 2017, with results due soon. American Lithium committed to spend US$300,000 on the property by April 2018.
ROCK TECH LITHIUM
Vancouver-based Rock Tech Lithium (TSXV: RCK) is focused this year on its Georgia Lake lithium and rare earths property located 145 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., where indicated resources stand at 3.2 million tonnes grading 1.1% lithium oxide and inferred resources at 6.3 million tonnes grading 1% lithium oxide. The junior says the property hosts more historic resources and several recently discovered lithium-bearing pegmatites.
This year, Rock Tech says it plans to increase its control over lithium resources by “expanding the Georgia Lake project, in cooperation with experienced service providers, and by making strategic acquisitions in a variety of lithium sources and jurisdictions around the globe.”