Mining hopeful Snow Lake Resources is years away from producing lithium from its Manitoba project, but the company is already looking for potential partners to develop an integrated North American supply chain
In anticipation of rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles over the next decade, Winnipeg-based Snow Lake Resources Ltd. (doing business as Snow Lake Lithium) is courting the North American auto industry with the promise of green, all-electric mining and refining with safety and local supply of lithium hydroxide.
Snow Lake, which completed a US$27.6 million initial public offering on the Nasdaq late last year, has an existing resource of 11.1 million metric tonnes of indicated and suspected 1% lithium oxide at a site approximately 600 kilometers north of Winnipeg. .
The company, whose majority shareholder is Nova Minerals Ltd. of Australia, is currently drilling and mapping the deposit – dubbing the project Thompson Brothers Lithium Project — strengthen this resource base, which must be converted into measured resources before any mining development.
The company’s initial metallurgical tests suggested the deposit could support a mine producing about 160,000 tonnes of 6% lithium ore concentrate per year, over a period of eight to ten years. That ore would be transported by rail to a site in southern Manitoba where Snow Lake plans to build its own integrated lithium hydroxide plant, potentially in partnership with other mining operations in the area, Gross said.
The lithium needs of a changing world
While the project is still in its early stages, Snow Lake CEO Philip Gross said during a corporate presentation last week that the company plans to begin mining and production of lithium by 2025 – at the latest.
In the meantime, the company is also looking for North American automotive partners to expand its refining plant.
“At this point, we’re looking to integrate that with a true OEM, whether it’s a battery or automotive manufacturer, so we can [joint venture] with them from mine to car in a transparent supply chain,” he said, as first reported by Electrek.
“This will then create the first integrated producer in North America with all-green credentials, with 98% renewable energy… We would almost be a one-stop solution for an automaker for their supply chain.”
While the International Energy Agency forecasts global lithium demand to grow from 47.3 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) in 2020 to 117.4 ktpa in 2024 and then to 185 ktpa by 2030, a secure supply lithium has been identified as a critical infrastructure supply need by the United States. government. Just last week, the Biden administration announced a US$2.91 billion investment in domestic lithium battery manufacturing and recycling.
Gross said, however, there simply isn’t enough globally developed supply to meet that need.
“We are seeing a generational shift in the demand curve… the biggest industrial pivot in a century,” he said.
Gross said Manitoba offers secure access to North American auto markets via a developed rail system, which also offers the smallest possible carbon footprint in terms of logistics and infrastructure.
“We can be from our project in Detroit in a day and a half,” he said.
Crucially, Manitoba also offers a secure supply of green energy from hydroelectric power generation, which will be essential if Snow Lake is to achieve its goal of becoming the world’s first electrified lithium mine and the first lithium mine to obtain B Corporation status. It would also help North American manufacturers reduce so-called scope 3 emissions from vehicle materials and production.
To that end, Snow Lake has partnered with Quebec-based mining equipment and engineering company Meglab to ensure full electrification of the mine.