Tesla plans to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in an affordable electric vehicle (EV) and a semi-heavy electric truck, which are not only cheaper but also pose less of a fire risk.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a strong advocate of LFP battery technology, declaring in March that "the vast majority of the heavy lifting for electrification will be iron-based cells."
On April 5, Tesla revealed plans to start deploying lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries on short-range Semi light trucks, however no launch date was specified.
One of the key reasons Musk and other LFP aficionados are interested in iron is that it is both cheap and plentiful. These two advantages outweigh the downsides of the batteries' higher weight and lower capacity, resulting in a shorter range than nickel-based batteries.
Tesla isn’t the only carmaker betting on LFP batteries. In February, Ford Motors announced plans to use LFP batteries in its Mustang Mach-E later this year, while its F-150 Lightning model will receive them as an option next year.
Several factors are causing miners to ramp up exploration projects in North America, including ever-rising demand for EVs and government initiatives in Canada and the US to boost the domestic supply of battery metals, particularly lithium.
At present, the only producing lithium mine in the US is Silver Peak in Nevada, but other projects have been progressing since the recent push including the start of construction at the Thacker Pass lithium mine, also in Nevada.
The Canadian government also recently approved the James Bay Lithium Project in Quebec, which includes an estimated 40.3 million tonnes (Mt) of lithium oxide (Li2O) and 37.2Mt of ore reserves. With this approval, Canada hopes to gain credibility in the lithium supply fight.
Canadian junior exploration company Usha Resources Ltd. (TSXV:USHA) (OTCQB:USHAF) is also developing early-stage high-grade precious and base metal assets in North America. The company’s portfolio includes its flagship Jackpot Lake lithium brine project in Nevada, the Lost Basin gold-copper project in Arizona and two hard-rock lithium properties in Ontario, the White Willow lithium-tantalum property in Ontario and, most recently, the Nym property.
Usha Resources' flagship Jackpot Lake Lithium Brine Property is located in Clark County, Nevada, approximately 35 km northeast of Las Vegas. The geology of Jackpot Lake is comparable to that of Albemarle's Silver Peak lithium mine, which has been in operation since 1966 and is the only producing lithium mine in North America. Sediments from the lithium-rich source rocks grow up and fill the deposit in both situations, with the potential for subsequent evaporation and concentration events to concentrate the lithium brine.
Usha Resources has provided an update on its continuing drilling program at the Jackpot Lake, with JP22-02 drill hole returning the highest lithium grades encountered in drilling and reported historically on the property to date. with shallow soils within the upper 500 feet averaging 334 ppm Li, nearly twice the historical reported average of 175 ppm, and a high of 820 ppm, nearly four times the historical average and twice the historical reported high of 550 ppm.
At Silver Peak, leaching of enriched lithium clays within a basin is one of the primary mechanisms by which lithium is believed to have been introduced into the brine, and so these grades are very favourable, especially in comparison to the reported average of 100 ppm for the Esmeralda Formation, one of the potential sources of the lithium enrichment in Clayton Valley.
Jackpot Lake has the potential to contain higher-grade intervals at greater depths within the basin, and lithium-rich sediments are prevalent throughout the basin, which might theoretically concentrate and enrich a brine at depths over time, according to the core assay results from JP22-02, meaning the best grades may still be present within the core to be drilled yet.
Usha Resources Purchases Two Ontario Hard-Rock Lithium Projects
Following two promising acquisitions, Usha Resources is moving swiftly into Canada’s hard-rock lithium space.
On March 28, the company announced the purchase of the White Willow Lithium-Tantalum Property in Ontario's Thunder Bay Mining Division. The project is described as a "unique and timely opportunity to capitalize on Canada's rapidly growing lithium metal and green energy markets," and is located near other lithium opportunities such as the Seymour Lake Lithium Project, the Georgia Lake pegmatite field, and the Separation Rapids Lithium deposit.
One week later, Usha Resources' announced the acquisition of its second hard-rock lithium property in the Thunder Bay Mining Division near Atikokan, Ontario.
The Nym Property adjoins Usha's White Willow Lithium-Tantalum Project, increasing the existing 712 claim block to 720 claims and adding 170 hectares to the 15,510 hectares already optioned. According to reports, the Nym Property has 119 prospective pegmatites and is on trend with the high-grade system at White Willow, providing the Company with over 200 possible lithium-bearing pegmatites between the two assets.
Like White Willow, Usha Resources' newly acquired Nym Property is underexplored, but previous drilling has identified pegmatite intersections up to 40 meters thick, and prospecting has confirmed anomalous lithium at the surface, implying highly fractioned LCT-pegmatites containing spodumene and other LCT-minerals may be present at Nym as well.
Usha thinks that these two acquisitions will support the company's ongoing strategy of assembling a portfolio of hard-rock assets that are highly complementary to its 100%-owned flagship Jackpot Lake Lithium Brine Project in Nevada, where it has recently increased its land position by threefold and is moving forward with its initial drill programme to establish a 43-101 resource.
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