Bacanora Minerals soars on deal to supply lithium to Japan’s Hanwa

Salinas Grandes on Argentina Andes is a salt desert in the Jujuy Province. (Image by Ksenia Ragozina | Shutterstock.)

Shares in lithium exploration and development company Bacanora Minerals (TSX-V, LON:BCN) were going gangbusters Monday after it announced it had inked a long-term supply deal with Japan’s Hanwa Corporation that will see the Tokyo-based trader acquire up to 100% of the output coming from the Sonora project in Mexico.

The stock climbed 10% to 91.3p in late afternoon trading in London and was up 8.03% to Cdn$1.48 in Toronto on the news at 10:20 am.

Hanwa, a leading Japan-based global trading company and one of the larger traders of battery chemicals in the Asian region, is expected to make an initial 10% cent equity investment in Bacanora in coming weeks, the company said.

Deal will see the Japanese trader buy up to 100% of the output coming from Bacanora’s Sonora lithium project in Mexico.

This is the third major milestone achieved by Bacanora. In 2015, the firm and its joint-venture partner Rare Earth Minerals (LON:REM) signed a conditional agreement with Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) to supply the electric cars and energy storage products company with lithium hydroxide from the Sonora project. And in May last year, the company secured a $11 million investment from Blackrock.

A Pre-Feasibility Study completed in early 2016 established Probable Mineral Reserve for the Sonora project of 2.1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent. Bacanora said it expects to complete such study by summer.

The firm also owns half of the Zinnwald lithium deposit in Germany, where a feasibility study is also expected to start this year.

Frequently referred to as “white petroleum,” lithium drives much of the modern world, as it has become an irreplaceable component of rechargeable batteries used in high tech devices and electric cars.

The lithium market, while still relatively small — worth about $1bn a year — is expected to triple in size by 2025, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

The commodity has attracted increasing interest from investors, not only in Latin America, where the world’s largest deposits are located, but also in other places such as the UK.