August 2012

Canada Lithium secures mining licence

Project closing in on lithium ion battery market

By Krystyna Lagowski

The Quebec Lithium project has been granted a mining licence, and owner Canada Lithium has leapt another crucial hurdle on the way to producing 20,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate each year.

The Toronto-based mine developer has completed the shell of the processing plant on the site near Val D’Or, and is currently installing heavy equipment. “We’ll be starting to put product through the plant and should be producing our first lithium carbonate by the first quarter of 2013,” said Olav Svela, director of investor relations for Canada Lithium.

The property was acquired in 2008 and had been a lithium producer from 1955 to 1965. Plans are to complete pre-stripping of the open pit operation in July and August.

The province of Quebec approved the location of the tailings management facility, but the operating permit for the facility has not yet been granted. “It’s a clean-tech mine, so most of the waste is silica sand from the mining itself,” explained Svela. Also in government hands is the federal environmental assessment, for which a comprehensive study began in June of this year.

Based on the feasibility study, Svela anticipates selling the lithium carbonate at about $1,500 per tonne. “We’ve planned for a mine life of about 15 years, but there’s a fair bit of ore in the ground so we might be able to extend that,” he said. “We’re also looking at producing higher end products, such as lithium hydroxide and lithium metal, but that’s down the road.”

For now, the primary focus is lithium carbonate, which is in high demand for the making of lithium ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt, as well as consumer electronics, including smartphones and tablets. “The majority of the product would be marketed in Korea, Japan and China, since that’s where the major battery manufacturers are,” noted Svela.

He estimates 150 people will be employed at the mine when it is in full production.

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