Automakers are accelerating their electric vehicle (EV) ambitions, but reality is beginning to sink in when it comes to obtaining the raw materials for the millions of EV batteries required to meet those lofty goals. Lithium is a critical part of the batteries that power EVs, however, rising popularity could cause a shortage of lithium in the coming years.
At the Freedom of Mobility Forum, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said that there might not be enough lithium to convert the 1.3 billion internal-combustion vehicles into electric vehicles. Despite this claim, the multinational carmaker still expects to meet its 2030 goals, which are in line with the European Union’s 2035 ban on fossil fuel-powered cars.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government is predicting that lithium demand will increase by 500% by 2050 due to rising domestic manufacturing and forward-looking transportation policies. However, the region still faces challenges when you consider that lithium production in North America accounted for less than 2% of current global supply while Australia, Chile, and Argentina produced 79% of the world's lithium.
In this situation, if they don’t have enough supply, these critical minerals could slow down the energy transition instead of helping it. As a result, the US and Canada are working hard to set up a supply chain for lithium and other important minerals.
Analysts say that after trading at record highs in 2022, the price of lithium will fluctuate throughout 2023 but will stay at levels that support new projects, in the short term at least.
The Government of Canada recently approved the James Bay Lithium Project in Quebec, which contains an estimated 40.3 million tonnes (Mt) of lithium oxide (Li2O) and 37.2Mt of ore reserves, Canada is looking to become credible in the lithium supply battle. Sayona Mining is also planning to reactivate the North American Lithium (NAL) project in Quebec., which hosts a 101.9 million tonne measured and indicated lithium oxide resource.
Canadian junior exploration company Usha Resources Ltd. (TSXV:USHA) (OTCQB:USHAF) is exploring and advancing early stage high-grade precious and base metal projects across North America. Usha's portfolio of strategic properties already included a nickel-copper-cobalt project in Ontario, a lithium project in Nevada, and a gold-copper project in Arizona. The company also just entered the hard-rock lithium space with the acquisitions of a pair of lithium-tantalum projects in Ontario.
Usha Resources Acquires Two Hard-Rock Lithium Projects in Ontario
Usha Resources is moving quickly into the hard-rock lithium space in Canada following two exciting acquisitions.
Last week Usha Resources announced the acquisition of the White Willow Lithium-Tantalum Property in Ontario's Thunder Bay Mining Division. The project, which is near other lithium projects such as the Seymour Lake Lithium Project, the Georgia Lake pegmatite field, and the Separation Rapids Lithium deposit, represents a "unique and timely opportunity to capitalize on Canada's rapidly growing lithium metal and green energy markets."
The White Willow Lithium-Tantalum Property contains a fertile lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) system with two well advanced LCT-pegmatite dikes. The dikes have been the focus of the limited exploratory activity done so far, with samples containing as much as 0.5% Li2O and 14.64% tantalum oxide (Ta2O5) in and near them.
Minimal surface sampling elsewhere on the property has also revealed very abnormal lithium values, with numerous samples assaying over 0.40% Li2O, as well as very anomalous tantalum and cesium values of 3.41% and 3.78% Ta2O5. High-grade tantalite shows the LCT-system of the property's surrounding zones have higher-grade lithium.
Then on April 4, Usha Resources acquired the Nym Property, its second hard-rock lithium property located in the Thunder Bay Mining Division near Atikokan, Ontario.
The Nym Property is contiguous with Usha’s White Willow Lithium-Tantalum Project, expanding the existing 712 claim block to a total of 720 claims and adding 170 hectares to the 15,510 hectares already optioned. The Nym Property reportedly hosts 119 prospective pegmatites and is on-trend with the high-grade system at White Willow, giving the Company over 200 prospective lithium-bearing pegmatites between the two properties.
Usha Resources’ newly acquired Nym Property is underexplored like White Willow, but previous drilling has identified pegmatite intersections up to 40 meters thick and prospecting has confirmed anomalous lithium is present at the surface, suggesting highly fractioned LCT-pegmatites that bear spodumene and other LCT-minerals may be present at Nym.
Usha believes these two acquisitions will be a continuation of the company’s strategy to build an accretive portfolio of highly complementary hard-rock assets to its 100%-owned flagship Jackpot Lake Lithium Brine Project in Nevada, where it has just increased its land position threefold and is progressing with its maiden drill program to establish a 43-101 resource..
Nevada Looks to Secure America’s Green Energy Future
At the same time, Nevada is swiftly establishing itself as a key participant in the manufacture of EV battery materials and reaching global climate targets in the US lithium area.
Usha Resources flagship Jackpot Lake Lithium Brine Property is located in Clark County, Nevada, about 35 kilometers northeast of Las Vegas. The 8,714 acres of the drill ready brine project are covered by 442 mineral claims (approximately 35.3 square kilometers). The company has authorized 2,700 meters spread across six holes.
The geology of Jackpot Lake is comparable to that of Albemarle's Silver Peak Nevada Lithium Mine, which has been in operation since 1966 and is the only producing lithium mine in North America. In both cases, sediments from the lithium-rich source rocks around the deposit build up and fill it, with the potential for subsequent evaporation and concentration events to concentrate the lithium brine.
Usha Resources provided an update on its work at the Jackpot Lake Lithium Brine Project, noting that the exploration team has found a high-porosity zone of sand followed by conglomerate beginning at 1,533 feet in the second hole (JP22-2) of its drill program.
Moreover, Usha Resources recently closed a non-brokered private placement for gross proceeds of C$3 million.
Usha Resources is planning a spin-out on April 12 with Formation Metals (FMI). Following the completion of the spin-off and share exchange, each Usha shareholder will receive one common share of FMI for every five USHA shares held on the upcoming share distribution record date.
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