IM Lithium News in Brief 18 – 24 November

By Albert Li, Myles McCormick
Published: Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Bacanora triples Sonora indicated mineral reserve; Ganfeng plans new carbonate plant; Ecuadorian government looks to Bolivia for lithium-ion batteries.

AIM and TSX-V-listed Bacanora Minerals Ltd has reported 337% increase in the indicated mineral resource estimate for its Sonora lithium project in Mexico to 5m tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) – 364m tonnes clay at 2,600 ppm – up from previous levels of 1.14m tonnes – 95m tonnes clay at 2,200 ppm.

The site’s inferred mineral resource is now estimated to be 3.9m tonnes LCE – 355m tonnes clay at 2,000 ppm – down from 6.3m tonnes LCE – 500m tonnes clay at 2,300 ppm – previously reported, as much of the previous inferred resource was upgraded to the indicated level.

The company said that the new indicated resource would be used for detailed life of mine planning, with an initial focus on the site’s higher grade deposits at the La Ventana and Fleur concessions.

This updated estimate will form part of an ongoing preliminary feasibility study (PFS), which Bacanora said is on schedule for completion in Q1 2016

Fellow TSX-V-listed Pure Energy Minerals Ltd – which like Bacanora also has a provisional supply deal with electric vehicle (EV) producer Tesla Motors Inc. – said it is moving to the next phase of process test work with Bateman Advanced Technologies Ltd (BAT) as part of efforts to complete a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of its Clayton Valley site in Nevada in 2016.

Pure Energy said it would begin trial processing runs in early 2016 at BAT’s mini pilot plant in Katzrin, Israel, designed to recover high-purity, battery-grade lithium products from brine sourced from Clayton Valley.

BAT’s proprietary technology aims to recover lithium from brines and chemical waste streams using a tested process with a small environmental footprint.

TSX-V-listed Western Lithium USA Corp. released an organisation and integration update on its operations following its merger with Lithium Americas Corp. in September this year.

The company said it would restructure senior management in order to accelerate the development of its Argentinian and US lithium resources and announced that Geologic Resource Partners LLC has signed a letter of intent to lead a small group of investors to provide the company with a $5m line of credit.

Western Lithium also said that it would introduce re-branding initiatives in early 2016 which will change its corporate name in order to "more appropriately reflect the scope and future of its new asset and business base".

Durango Resources Inc. is set to become the latest in a line of companies purchasing Nevada lithium claims.

The explorer has agreed to terms in a right of first refusal (ROFR) with an arm's length vendor for the 2,460 acre (9.96km2) East Fault lithium claims lithium in South Clayton Valley Nevada, US.

Durango has 30 days to complete due diligence on the claims before entering into a definitive agreement, following which it will issue 1m shares to the vendor, sign a 3% net smelter royalty (with the option of a 1% buyback for $1m within three years) and pay $29,000 in claim fees.

Durango currently holds the NMX East lithium  project in Quebec, Canada, as well as a number of limestone, gold and nickel claims in the US and Canada.

Another TSX-V-listed junior, Noka Resources Inc., is also seeking to join the Nevada lithium race, with the announcement of an agreement with arms-length vendors to acquire the 1,920 acre (7.77km2) Columbus lithium project in the Big Smokey Valley, Esmeralda County.

To gain a 100% interest in the project, Noka must issue 1.9m common shares to each of the vendors, for a total of 3.2m common shares, make cash payments of Canadian dollar (C$) 450,000 ($336,376*) over the next three years and spend at least C$1m on exploration at the site within 36 months.

Noka holds a number of uranium interests in the in the Athabasca Basin region of northern Saskatchewan, Canada.

In China, Jinanxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd has signed an agreement to proceed with the construction of a new lithium carbonate plant in Qingtang town, Ningdu county, Jianxi province, in the south east of the country.

The facility will make use of spodumene mined in the village of Heyuan and will source sulfuric acid from Jiangxi Chaosheng Mining Co.

It is expected to have a capacity of 17,000 tpa, will cost Chinese renminbi (Rmb) 450m ($70.34m) and will be brought into production in two years’ time.

In battery news, the Government of Ecuador has requested a supply of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries from Bolivia, for use in a public transport EVs, according to a report by the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Ecuador’s minister for knowledge and human talent, Andres Arauz, made the request during a meeting with the Bolivian vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, in a meeting this week.

The initiative would include the construction of a lithium carbonate production plant as well as a Li-ion battery factory.

Bolivia hosts the world’s largest identified lithium reserves, at 9m tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey. However, there is currently no commercial-scale production in the country.

Nemaska Lithium Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Johnson Matthey Battery Materials Ltd (JMBM) – a subsidiary of London-listed Johnson Matthey Plc – for the sale of C$12m of product from its phase one and subsequent commercial hydrometallurgy plant to be built in Shawinigan, Quebec.

The funds will be used to finance construction of the phase one plant to begin processing spodumene concentrate from Nemaska’s Whabouchi property in the Lac des Montagnes region of Quebec.

The agreement also provides for the potential long term provision of lithium salts by Nemaska to JMBM for use in the latter’s battery material products.

Nemaska’s CEO, Guy Bourassa, described the deal as a "non-dilutive approach [to the] project financing of the Phase 1 Plant," which he said the company "will be ready to start building as soon as the financing is closed which we expect by February 2016".

*Conversions made November 2015