With last year’s record lithium prices spurring a boom in exploration for the energy metal that has persisted even as prices have retreated, The Northern Miner was curious where in Canada that activity is being channelled and who’s behind it.
To get a wide view on exploration activity, we turned to our sister company Mining Intelligence.
According to Mining Intelligence data, there are 409 active lithium projects in Canada, including very early stage properties where little work has been done (145 or 35% of the total).
Advanced projects with a significant amount of drilling, a resource, or any stage of economic study, construction or production) account for 106 or just over one quarter (25.9%) of the total.
Here’s a look at all projects by stage.
Quebec, which has had some historical production of lithium, by far hosts the greatest number of active lithium projects. Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA) and 25% partner Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ: PLL; ASX: PLL) just restarted commercial spodumene production at the North American Lithium (NAL) project in Quebec last month.
The mining and exploration friendly province accounts for almost half of lithium exploration projects in the Mining Intelligence database. By comparison, Ontario, which has the second highest count, has just over a quarter of the total number of projects.
The “other” category in the pie chart below includes 10 projects in the Northwest Territories, two in Nunavut, three in B.C., and six each in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, with New Brunswick counting just one.
The vast majority of Canada’s lithium projects — 86% — are held by Canadian-based companies. Australians hold close to 13%. Given Australia’s status as the world’s top lithium producer as well as its strength in mineral exploration, it’s no surprise to see that when we look at a subset of more advanced projects (37 in total), the share held by Canadian companies falls to 58% while the share held by Australian companies rises to 36%.
In Quebec, these include the NAL mine plus two other feasibility-stage projects held by Sayona (Authier and Moblan); Allkem’s (TSX, ASX: AKE) James Bay project; Critical Elements Lithium’s (TSXV: CRE) Rose project; Livent’s (NYSE: LTHM) 50%-owned Whabouchi project; and Vision Lithium’s (TSXV: VLI) PEA-stage Sirmac project.
In Ontario, they include Rock Tech Lithium’s (TSXV: RCK) prefeasibility stage Georgia Lake; Frontier Lithium’s (TSXV: FL) PEA-stage PAK project, Green Technology Metals’ (ASX: GT1) Seymour; Avalon Advanced Materials’ (TSX: AVL) Separation Rapids; Gossan Resources’ (TSXV: GSS) Separation Rapids (Paterson Lake); and Critical Resources’ (ASX: CRR) Mavis Lake.
Other advanced projects include E3 Lithium’s (TSXV: ETL) Bashaw prefeasibility stage lithium brine project, and LithiumBank Resources’ (TSXV: LBNK) Boardwalk lithium brine project, both in Alberta; the Tanco mine in Manitoba, held by China’s Sinomine; and Grounded Lithium’s (TSXV: GRD) PEA-stage Kindersley brine project in Saskatchewan.
Another way to look at ownership of active projects is by option agreements. According to MI data, options are held on 153 lithium projects, with the vast majority (over 72%) held by Canadian companies, just over 25% held by Australian companies, and 2% held by U.K.-based outfits.