Sweden eyes Peruvian lithium

Sweden’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Promotion Niklas Johansson said this week that his country is interested in helping Peru develop its lithium mining industry.

According to Johansson, Sweden has become lithium-thirsty due to an increase in demand for electric cars, bolstered by government efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy solutions.

EVs’ batteries have an intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material.

Experts predict that the mining industry will need to invest $12 billion within five years to meet the global demand for lithium

Even though Peru is not part of the so-called ‘Lithium Triangle’ formed by Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, just a year ago Macusani Yellowcake, the Peruvian subsidiary of Canada’s Plateau Energy Metals (TSX-V: PLU), found 2.5 million tonnes of high-grade lithium resources at its Falchani hard rock deposit in the southern Puno region.

According to Reuters, companies such as US-based Albemarle, the world’s No. 1 producer of the metal, and China’s Tianqi Lithium, the No. 3, may be waiting for Plateau to confirm the size of its reserves before showing their interest in Peru.

Sweden doesn’t seem to be waiting, though. Speaking in Lima at a conference called “Mining for the future: The Swedish experience,” which was organized by the embassy of the European country and the mining division of the Engineers College of Peru, Johansson said that the lithium demand from companies such as Volvo and Scania is in an upward trend and that Swedish miners are eager to develop responsible and sustainable lithium projects.

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American Manganese to help US government recover lithium-ion battery materials

American Manganese (TSX.V: AMY) announced this week that it will participate in a U.S. Department of Energy project to advance the economic recovery of lithium-ion battery materials from electric vehicles and other consumer goods.

In a press release, the British Columbia-based firm explained that the project is titled "Lithium-Ion Battery Disassembly, Remanufacturing, and Lithium & Cobalt Recovery Project" and it focuses on developing an economic recovery strategy for critical materials in end-of-use lithium-ion batteries from electric and hybrid electric vehicles and bicycles, as well as from power tools.

Other AMY partners include Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Idaho National Lab, Purdue University and Case Western Reserve University.

"AMY is very pleased to become the first private-sector company to participate in this project," said Larry Reaugh, CEO of American Manganese, in the media brief. "We're honored to be working with world-renowned national labs and leading U.S. universities on an issue that will dramatically impact our ability to meet rising material demand for lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel."

Reaugh noted that the work starts immediately under the supervision of the Critical Materials Institute, which is an energy innovation hub led by Ames Laboratory and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Advanced Manufacturing Office.

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Secova acquires cheap vanadium mineral claims in Quebec

Secova Metals (TSXV: SEK) acquired this week 100% interest in 3,809 hectares of vanadium mineral claims located in three land packages in the eastern Canadian province of Quebec.

"CIBC Mellon has estimated that there will be $35 trillion dollars of global infrastructure projects starting over the next 20 years, which will spark big demand for vanadium"

In a press release, the Vancouver-based miner said the acquisition, which is a $75,000 arms-length transaction, is aimed at taking advantage of the "hot vanadium market."

The media brief states that Secova's strategy is to buy under-valued long-term viable assets, develop a systematic exploration plan and work the properties.

"Secova could not ignore the high-levels of interest for the vanadium demand due to a globally increased need for the mineral in both Vanadium Redox Flow Battery Technology and as an alloy for strengthening steel in infrastructure, rebar, pipelines, airplanes and car frames," the communiqué reads.

According to the document, the miner will develop and release an exploration plan based on the historic work performed on the claims.

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Nickel demand growing thanks to EV boom: Western Areas

One of Australia’s largest high-grade nickel producers, Western Areas (ASX: WSA), reported a significant increase in inbound off-take inquiries for nickel sulphide concentrate post current contract periods.

According to the company’s Managing Director, Dan Lougher, this new trend is primarily linked to the accelerating electric vehicle battery sector.

Addressing the second day of the Paydirt 2019 Battery Minerals Conference in Perth, Lougher said some of the new inquiry was driven in part by the company’s second largest offtake partner, China’s largest stainless steel producer, Tsingshan.

“Players looking to lock in new long-term contracts will be doing so at a time technological changes in the battery space are favouring the new NCM 811 classification (Nickel, Cobalt, Manganese) which research indicates will be the fastest growing battery combination by 2025,” Lougher said. “These battery cells offer better energy density, allowing fewer and/or lower weight batteries in cars – but they will require even more nickel.”

Nickel. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The executive noted that the need for nickel is starting to rise at a time when its price is too low to incentivize new project development, something that can take up to three years. In his view, this means that supply markets are likely to diverge and split between stainless steel, a sector that consumes 72% of world nickel production, and EV demand, which currently accounts for 4% of total global nickel consumption but has been growing by 30-40% a year.

“In addition, nickel supply pressure is being exacerbated by non-ferrous alloys which command 10% of total global markets but are booming due to strong growth in aerospace industries and a recovery in oil and gas investment internationally,” Western Areas Managing Director said.

According to Lougher, all these demand pressures should call for higher nickel prices. He said one particular force pushing for a higher price tag is the fact that the chemistry for lithium-ion batteries favours nickel sulphide styles but very little of the known nickel sulphide ore bodies worldwide are left to be developed.

“This lack of these ore bodies was already an issue for the nickel industry so if EVs are to become a reality in day-to-day motoring, then higher nickel prices will be required. The new demand nickel units will have to be sourced increasingly from nickel laterites which are victim to higher processing costs,” he said.

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Blackstone Minerals convinced BC Cobalt Project has potential to rival Morocco’s Bou-Azzer cobalt district

Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) said today that assay results from its BC Cobalt Project in British Columbia, western Canada, allow to compare it with some of the top cobalt deposits in the world.

At the Paydirt 2019 Battery Minerals Conference in Perth, Blackstone Managing Director, Scott Williamson, said the company’s 335-square kilometer land pack has yielded a large sulphide-bearing body.

According to Williamson, new work in recent months has uncovered fresh targets assaying up to 2.3% cobalt and 32 grams per tonne gold, much of it hosted in soil anomalies more than 1.5 kilometres in length and emerging as the most significant discoveries there since the 1930s.

Cobalt find in British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Blackstone Minerals.

In Blackstone’s view, these results imply that the project has the potential to rival Morocco’s Bou-Azzer primary cobalt district, which has more than 50 deposits and has been a source of world cobalt production for 75 years.

The Australian miner is the first company in more than 70 years to undertake systematic exploration over an area around Canada’s former Jewel cobalt mining footprint, located 180 kilometres north of Vancouver.

“While some sample processing results are awaited, Blackstone says it is increasingly confident that the Project offers belt-scale opportunity of a nature that will appeal to cobalt end-users looking for a long-term supply of the key ingredient in cathode chemistry for lithium-ion batteries,” Williamson said.

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Millennial Lithium’s project center in Argentina goes solar

Millennial Lithium (TSXV: ML) announced that its Pastos Grandes Salar lithium brine project in Argentina is now home to a solar-powered permanent project center, which includes a 60-100 person camp with dorms and other facilities, an on-site laboratory, and a process pilot plant under construction.

In a media statement, the Vancouver-based miner highlighted the fact that a state-of-the-art hybrid solar power system is in charge of providing electricity to the center while reducing CO2 emissions by 147 tonnes annually and the costs for fuel by $250,000 per year.

“We at Millennial are excited to be on the leading edge of the green revolution in commissioning our renewables-powered project development park,” the company’s President and CEO, Farhad Abasov, said in the press brief. “This follows through on our personal commitment to the environment while preserving shareholder value, and our goal of producing lithium products with a low CO2 footprint.”

Pastos Grandes Salar lithium brine project in Argentina. Photo by Millennial Lithium.

According to Abasov, the hybrid solar power system for the project center is the first of its type in the Puna region of northern Argentina and, on top of being environmentally friendly, it will help the company quantify and maximize the benefit of renewable energy saturation in its commercial operations engineering and commissioning.

The CEO explained that Puna has one of the highest levels of solar loading in the world. Thus, Millennial solicited proposals for renewable energy systems from local firms and ended up choosing Ergy Solar to install and commission an integrated solar photovoltaic, battery and backup conventional power generation system. The system utilizes 540 (1,050 square meters) photovoltaic panels of 330 Wp each totaling 178.2 KWp of solar power, a 500 kwh maximum storage bank of batteries and two low-emission diesel generators.

Abasov also said that the hybrid solar system is managed by a "smart" central controller that constantly reads loads and optimizes power output to the project center and the batteries to take advantage of the high levels of solar resources in the region. The PV panel and battery system can provide power at maximum capacity for more than 18 hours throughout the daily 24-hour cycle, with diesel generator back-up only for some peak energy consumption times and infrequent non-sun events.

Millennial’s press release states that within the project center there is an on-site lab with an Agilent Technologies model 5110 2-axis ICP-OES analyzer that is expected to provide quick turnaround of analyses for the ongoing pilot ponds system and a pilot plant that should have a 3 tonne per month output of battery quality lithium carbonate.

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Explorex to acquire cobalt project in Nevada

Canada’s Explorex Resources (CSE: EX) announced that it wants to buy New Tech Minerals’ (CNSX: NTM) Buena Vista Hills cobalt – iron oxide – copper-gold project, located in Pershing County, Nevada.

In a press release, Explorex said Buena Vista Hills seems to be a unique opportunity and setting for a large scale near surface cobalt target.

In order to buy the property, the Vancouver-based miner entered into a Letter of Intent with the seller for a 100% interest. To complete the acquisition, Explorex has to make a $10,000 cash payment and issue a cumulative 400,000 shares in Explorex to New Tech pursuant to the execution of a definitive agreement and New Tech satisfying certain obligations, such as fulfilling underlying commitments pursuant to the Mining Lease and Option to Purchase Agreement it made with Zephyr Minerals back in 2018.

New Tech also has to maintain underlying cash payments and share issuances to Zephyr but, in compensation, Explorex is required to mirror the Zephyr Option by making commensurate cash payments and issuing an equivalent value of Explorex shares to New Tech.

Explorex is also expected to spend $700,000 in exploration activities at Buena Vista Hills.

"The cobalt mineralization was intersected under the mine waste at a 6.1 m depth and graded 0.09% CoO over 27.4m."

The project is situated approximately 35 kilometres southeast of the town of Lovelock and it is centered around the past producing Segerstrom-Heizer iron ore open pit mine, whose output reached 1.2 million tonnes of iron ore between 1943 and 1966. There are also four additional smaller past operating open pits in the immediate vicinity.

According to Explorex, subsequent to the emplacement of the magnetite, an intense 'Cobaltoan' pyrite-marcasite sulfide mineralizing event occurred in the project area. Thus, there is Cobaltoan iron-sulfide deposition focused along the hanging wall and footwall margins of the massive magnetite body.

“The potential of the 'at surface' oxidized zone was revealed in a reverse circulation drill hole completed by the property owner, Zephyr Minerals, in 2008. The Zephyr Hole was located approximately 100 m northeast of the main exposed mineralized zone at the NE pit wall and drilled vertically with fixed 3.05 m sample intervals. The cobalt mineralization was intersected under the mine waste at a 6.1 m depth and graded 0.09% CoO over 27.4m. This interval included 12.2m grading 0.12% CoO from 12.2-24.4m,” the company's press brief reads.

Explorex says that the significant cobalt mineralization reported in the Zephyr Hole combined with the cobalt mineralization observed in grab samples quite distant from the Zephyr Hole indicates the potential for a large at surface cobalt mineralized target area along the extent of the magnetite body and the area’s Segerstrom-Heizer fault.

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