IM Lithium News in Brief 16 – 22 December

By Myles McCormick
Published: Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Rio Tinto mulls Jadar’s lithium potential; Orocobre speculates over reasons for share price jump; Western Lithium secures $5m credit line; LG Chem in one GWh battery deal.

Rio Tinto Diamonds and Minerals’ CEO, Alan Davies, pushed Rio’s Serbian Jadar lithium and borates project into the headlines by noting the site’s potential for lithium carbonate production.

"Lithium carbonate would be new for us, but the world will need a lot more lithium in the future for electric cars," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Hopefully we'll be able to supply into that sector and be a strategic partner either with a car manufacturer or a battery manufacturer," he added.

Jadar is host to the rock jadarite, a mineral thusfar only recorded in western Serbia, from which it hopes to extract borates and lithium. It has declared an inferred resource of 125.3m tonnes with a weighted average lithium oxide (Li 2O) concentration of 1.8% and 16.2m tonnes boron trioxide (B 2O 3) for the deposit’s lower zone. An 18-month prefeasibility study (PFS) is due to begin in 2016.

ASX and TSX-listed Orocobre Ltd has suggested that predicted supply shortage in lithium carbonate coupled with an intensified push towards decreasing carbon emissions in the wake of the Paris climate change agreement may have contributed to a spike in its share price last week.

The company’s shares rose on the ASX by 32%, from Australian dollar (A$) 1.37 ($0.98*) on 14 December to an intraday high of A$1.81 on 15 December, prompting a price query from the ASX compliance wing.

Orocobre has since said it is "not aware of any information concerning it that has not been announced to the market that could explain the recent trading".

The company is currently working to ramp up is Olaroz lithium carbonate facility in Argentina to nameplate capacity. Bottleneck issues have led to delays, however, and it now hopes to achieve monthly full production of 1,450 tonnes in the new year.

Asgard Metals, a subsidiary of London-listed Ariana Resources Plc, and Slipstream Resources LLC have completed a joint agreement to sell a package of tenements in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to ASX-listed Dakota Minerals Ltd, which they currently share on a 49:51 basis.

The prospects include part of an extensive lithium-tantalum bearing pegmatitic dyke swarm, recognised as containing the second-largest spodumene lithium resource in the world, Ariana said.

Asgard and Slipstream will split an initial cash payment of A$300,000 and will be issued 22,500,000 and 27,500,000 shares respectively.

Avalon Rare Metals Inc. has begun trading on the OTCQX exchange in the US under the ticker "AVLNF".

The move follows Avalon’s delisting from the NYSE earlier this month as it became uncompliant with the exchange’s continued listing standards due to its low share price.

Avalon’s CEO, Don Bubar, said he was "pleased to be able to maintain a US trading market and continued market access for US investors".

The company, which owns the Separation Rapids lithium project, in Ontario, Canada, retains its listing on the TSX and will continue to be a reporting issuer with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

TSX-V- and Frankfurt-listed Dajin Resources Corp. is carrying out work to create a new structural map of the basin at its Teels Marsh project in Nevada, using gravity, magnetic and geoprobe data already collected.

The study will be used for locating exploration wells and a seismic survey to be carried out in 2016, it said, adding that permitting for these activities is underway.

In finance news, Western Lithium USA Corp., a TSX-listed junior which recently completed a merger with Lithium Americas Corp., has secured a $5m line of credit with its largest shareholder, Geologic Resource Partners LLC.

Speaking on an investor conference call yesterday, Tom Hodgson, Western Lithium’s CEO, said that the loan agreement was "an insurance policy", which "may or may not be drawn down".

The deal removes the need to "put plans on hold as [the company] figures out where the next round of funding is coming from" and also avoids the dilution of equity, he explained.

Western Lithium owns the Cauchari-Olaroz brine project in Argentina’s northern Jujuy province, from which it hopes to begin commercial production in 2017, and the Kings Valley hectorite clay project in Nevada, US, where it hopes to complete testwork for a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in the new year.

In downstream news, Korean battery producer LG Chem will sell one gigawatt hour (GWh) capacity of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries to Arlington, Virginia, US-based AES Energy Storage over the coming years. The batteries will be used to power AES’s Advancion grid-scale energy storage solution

In a joint statement, the companies noted that there are 1,400 megawatts (MW) of advanced energy storage projects either announced or in operation today, compared to less than 60 MW six years ago. They cited predictions by Navigant Research indicating that over 11 gigawatts (GW) of energy storage capacity will be installed annually by 2020 across 22 countries.

Finally, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has launched the "Go Green" bus service for MPs, the Times of India has reported.

A retrofitted Li-ion powered bus gifted by the country’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, will be used to carry MPs to parliament.

The ministry will present another such electronic bus to parliament in the near future and has approved plans to convert a further twelve traditional diesel buses use to Li-ion power. 

Separately, but also in India, UK-basedsupermarket giant Tesco Plc has launched a programme to transport its Bangalore-based employees in Li-ion powered electric vehicles (EVs), according to local paper, the Bangalore Mirror.

The project began as a pilot in July with five EVs and 33 employees participating and has now grown to include 33 EVs and over 180 employees. It will be scaled up further over the next few years, Tesco said.

*Conversion made December 2015

  • Rob Tagliaferro | 05 Jan 2016, 8:07 AM

    Galaxy Resources has repaid most of its debt and is in a joint venture with General Mining to restart spodumine production at its Mt Cattlin project. GXY has also negotiated ownership of its Sal de Vida project in Argentina back to 100%.