Canadian junior Frontier Lithium (TSX-V: FL) (OTCQX: LITOF) said the Ontario government is injecting C$363,000 (about $300K) into the company’s pilot of a proprietary process that seeks to overcome certain risks linked to conventional lithium chemical processing used commercially outside North America.
Frontier is developing the PAK lithium project in northwestern Ontario, said to host the province’s largest and highest-grade lithium resource.
Frontier has two spodumene-bearing deposits at its PAK project, 175 kilometres north of Red Lake, near the Manitoba border. Spodumene is the most widely used lithium because of its high lithium content.
The company aims to become a fully-integrated lithium producer of battery-quality lithium, a critical component in the batteries that power electric vehicles and high tech devices.
The pilot, conducted in partnership with mining and commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN), could end in a commercial-scale lithium chemical plant that would create 500 jobs during a two-year construction phase, and more than 250 once it is operational.
“This strategic investment strengthens Frontier Lithium’s ability to assess new and emerging technologies so that we can best deliver high-quality lithium battery materials while reducing waste and energy,” Frontier Lithium CEO Trevor Walker said in the statement.
“The timely support of the Ontario government further reinforces our vision and value-proposition to build an integrated local mining and battery materials supplier for the electric vehicle industry from one of North America’s largest and highest-grade lithium resources,” Walker said.
The funding is also designed to highlight Ontario’s potential for mineral development and promote economic growth in the province’s north. The area is known as “Electric Avenue” because of the size and quality of the metal used in batteries.
“We are investing in innovative mining and refining technology developed right here in northern Ontario,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “There’s a growing global market for reliable, responsibly sourced critical minerals, and we want Ontario to be the first jurisdiction on everybody’s mind.”
The company released in February a preliminary economic assessment of its PAK open-pit project, forecasting a 26-year mine life with the potential to establish a hydrometallurgical chemical plant at an unidentified Great Lakes port.
Frontier’s tentative start date to begin commercial-scale mining at PAK is 2025.