Canada races ahead of US on current lithium project pipeline

Lithium salt extraction area at the world’s biggest salt plain Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Credit: AdobeStock.

Canada’s lithium supply response is expected to post strong growth through 2031 and outperform the US, a new analysis by Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research suggests.

Canada’s current solid project pipeline, prospective investments into petroleum brine production techniques in Alberta, and a fast-growing battery and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing base in Quebec and Ontario provide more significant upside in the medium-term due to Canada’s more attractive regulatory environment, the authors say.

Mine permitting times are shorter compared with the U.S., and the current government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has proposed C$3.8 billion in spending in April to support the mining sector. This includes the creation of infrastructure for remote projects, of which C$1.6 billion were dedicated to critical minerals projects.

Critical Elements Lithium’s (TSXV: CRE) Rose project, Sayona Mining’s (ASX: SYA) Authier project, and Sayona and Piedmont Lithium’s (Nasdaq: PLL; ASX: PLL) jointly owned La Corne mine  — all in Quebec — are expected to begin production in 2023. The three projects are expected to add over 50,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) production. La Corne targets a total production capacity of 265,000 tonnes per year in the longer term, assuming its planned expansions are authorized and financed.

Nemaska Lithium’s rebooted Whabouchi mine, also in Quebec, is expected to enter production in 2025 and add another 52,500 tonnes annual output.

According to Fitch’s ‘Americas Lithium Outlook: Robust Project Pipeline To Secure Future Production,’ these planned projects are buoyed by an additional 20 projects without stated production dates receiving growing interest from manufacturers who increasingly provide financing for upstream projects. These arrangements allow them to secure long-term offtake and reduce exposure to spot market prices through contractual price caps.