IM Lithium News in Brief 27 January – 2 February

By Myles McCormick
Published: Tuesday, 02 February 2016

Chile’s president calls unity in development of South American lithium; Li3 Energy enters equity deal with Wealth Minerals; Nemaska finalises C$13m funding for Quebec hydroxide plant.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet has called upon South American states to work together towards the development of their respective lithium industries, according to Chilean news outlet, Diario Financiero de Chile.

"Our three countries have the largest reserves in the world," she said, referring to Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. "There is a potential there to drive the theme of renewable energy," she added.

Bolivian president, Evo Morales, who previously described Bolivian lithium as the "hope of humanity", responded by stating that when his country reaches ful production, "[it will] decide the price of lithium for the whole world", because it holds the largest reserves.

Bolivia currently has no commercial lithium production. Estimates of its reserves of the mineral vary from the 9m tonnes outlined by the US Geological Survey (USGS) to the 100m tonnes claimed by the Bolivian government.

Elsewhere in South America, US-based Li3 Energy Inc. has executed a non-binding letter of intent with TSX-V-listed Wealth Minerals Ltd to support exploration at Li3’s Maricunga lithium project in northern Chile.

Wealth will provide Canadian dollar (C$) 3m ($2.14m*) in equity financing, establishing a new company to be owned on a 50:50 basis by Wealth and Li3.

The financing will be used to advance work at Maricunga and pursue other corporate initiatives, Li3 said.

In North America, TSX-V listed Nemaska Lithium Inc. has signed a final contract for a grant of around C$13m from Sustainable Development Technology Canada for the construction and operation of its phase one lithium hyromet plant in Shawinigan, Quebec.

The plant will have the capacity to produce 500 tpa high purity lithium hydroxide. Construction is expected to begin this quarter and be completed by the end of the year.

Nevada Sunrise Gold Corp., also TSX-V-listed, has signed a letter of agreement on an option to purchase water rights in the Clayton Valley, Nevada.

The permit allows for the use of 1,770 acre/feet of water use for mining and milling per year.

TSX-V-listed Ashburton Ventures Inc. has acquired the Area 51 lithium brine prospect in Nye County, Nevada, from an arm's length vendor.

The property consists of 85 federal placer claims over an area of 1,700 acres (6.88km2)

In exchange for the site, Ashburton will issue 200,000 shares and pay $20,000 a year after the deal is closed. It will also grant the vendor a 0.5% net smelter return (NSR), half of which can be repurchased at a cost of $500,000.

In Australia, Lithium Australia NL and Pilbara Minerals, both ASX-listed companies, have extended by a year an agreement to evaluate the commercial potential of mica deposits in Pilbara’s Pilangoora project in Western Australia (WA).

The extension of the deal until the end of 2016 follows the identification of new targets on the site, in an area labelled the Triple Creek Zone, over the past year.

Separately, Lithium Australia said it had submitted a programme of works for approval by the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum relating to work at is Lepidolite Hill site.

The company said that approval of the submission would be a precursor to recovering around 1,500 tonnes lepidolite for further metallurgical testing.

ASX-listed Peninsula Mines Ltd has filed seven tenement applications in South Korea through its subsidiary, Suyeon Mining Co. Ltd.

The applications cover two blocks adjacent to the existing Boam lithium mine and five separate blocks over areas of pegmatite, which it said are considered prospective for lithium and tin mineralisation

"South Korea is a significant lithium importer and consumer and the acquisition of projects prospective for lithium complements the company’s recent move into graphite exploration," said Martin Pyle, executive director at Peninsula.

ASX-listed Mining Projects Group Ltd has indicated it will buy the Lynas Find Assets, a lithium and gold project based in the Pilbara region of WA. It will rename the site the Pilbara lithium-gold project.

The nickel-focused miner will purchase the site from Tyranna Resources Ltd and Tribal Mining Corp. Inc. for a package including a cash sum of Australian dollar (A$) 200,000 ($141,000), 300m shares, and 100m unlisted options.

The Lynas Find site borders both Pilbara Minerals and Altura Mining Ltd’s projects in the region.

Zenith Minerals Ltd has reported grades of up to 4.05% lithium oxide (Li2O) at its Mount Alexander project in WA.

It recorded seven rock chip samples with assays ranging from 3.38% to 4.05% Li2O from a lepidolite-bearing pegamite dyke, it said.

Surface mapping and sampling at the site are now planned, alongside an assessment of existing drill samples.

ASX-listed Metalicity Ltd has lodged four exploration licence applications in WA, covering an area of 914 km2 across three separate project areas.

The company said that each of the areas – Lake Cowan, Greenbushes East and Pilangoora East – are spodumene-bearing and are considered prospective for lithium, tantalum and tin mineralisation.

Metalicity managing director, Matt Gauci said that the company had identified the tenements making use of a "rapidly developed an in-house exploration targeting model focussed on lithium mineralisation", adding that permits for these locations would "add to the existing highly prospective Pilgangoora South project" currently held by the company.

Finally, in battery news, Japanese automobile manufacturer, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd will lead a £19.4m ($27.7m) project in the UK to develop next generation lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for electric cars, The Engineer has reported.

The project has received funding from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre and is aiming to develop new chemistry and manufacturing processes for Li-ion batteries.

The research will be based at Nissan’s battery plant in Sunderland in the north of England and will involve a number of industry and academic bodies.

*Conversions made February 2016