Chinese eye Atlantic Canada’s lithium project

As the popularity of lithium increases on the back of electric car batteries and smart phones, the so-called “white petroleum” and “white gold” continues to attract investors, and a couple of small Canadian companies are already reaping the benefit of this trend.

Only a month after selling part of its lithium project in Nova Scotia to a fellow Canadian junior, Champlain Mineral Ventures received a huge bulk sample order from an unidentified Chinese mining company.

According to CBC News, the Asian firm ordered 10,000 tonnes of lithium, or the equivalent to 340 containers, which the firm expects to be able to ship by the end of October.

Lithium prices have soared in the past year, and demand is set to outstrip supply by 2023.

Meanwhile, Vancouver-based junior Clean Commodities Corporation (TSX-V: CLE) is stepping up efforts to develop its recently acquired Brazil Lake project, which completely surrounds Champlain's original stake, and it’s located just northeast of Yarmouth.

The timing couldn’t be better for the miners. The commodity has soared in the past year, with spot lithium prices in China tripling from $7,000 to $20,000 a tonne in 12 months. Demand, in turn, is set to outstrip supply by 2023, according to analysts, driven partly by Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory in Nevada, which is expected to produce more lithium-ion batteries than the entire world did three years ago.

Clean Commodities’ Brazil Lake Lithium Project includes 21 contiguous mineral licenses granted by the Government of Nova Scotia covering 14,666 hectares. The company says the project is still is in the very early "boulder hunting" stage with basic prospecting and soil sampling.

Champlain Mineral’s venture, while still undeveloped, is further ahead. A firm representative told CBC News the company has done 50 diamond drill holes, identifying pegmatite with variable zones ranging from 5% to 20% of lithium-bearing spodumen.

Currently, most lithium is produced in Australia and Chile, with the bulk of the world’s reserves straddling huge salt flats in South America, mainly in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.