In the 1850s, thousands of prospectors left Australia to try and make their riches in the newly discovered gold fields of Canada.
A similar phenomenon is happening again, with Australian exploration companies of all shapes and sizes rushing to Canada to chase up what some are describing as today’s ‘gold’ – lithium.
In what is now becoming a weekly event, ASX-listed juniors are snapping up large parcels of ground in some of Canada’s most sought after lithium provinces.
Driven by the lithium ion battery (LIB) phenomenon and the “booming” electric vehicle (EV) market, former gold and base metal explorers are now turning to battery metals like lithium to forge their futures.
Similar occurrences have been happening, and are still going on in Australia, but what several companies are finding equally – or even more enticing – is the Canadian government – and neighbour USA’s – great desire to create local lithium production.
While Canada has been identified as having potentially significant lithium reserves, there is no current lithium production in place.
To try and turn that around, the Canadian and US governments are both throwing billions into supporting explorers.
As the world’s largest producer of lithium for some time now, the Australians believe they have the experience and the knowledge to play a key role in helping solve that issue – while generating shareholder value.
A fantastic time
Critical Resources Limited’s (ASX: CRR) Managing Director, Alex Cheeseman, recently declared “It is a fantastic time to be developing a lithium project in Canada!”
The company recently obtained further “exceptional” spodumene-bearing pegmatite intercepts from drilling at its 100% owned Mavis Lake Lithium Project in Ontario.
The company recommenced drilling in early January 2023 with two drill rigs focusing on different areas at Mavis Lake. The recent results extend the known mineralization of the Main Zone down dip and confirms that mineralization remains open at depth. The results also confirmed a new mineralization area to the south of the Main Zone.
Mr Cheeseman said the successful drilling of the South Zone highlights the continued potential for scale and growth at Mavs Lake with multiple, mapped, spodumene- bearing outcrops yet to be drill tested.
“These are further great results from Mavis Lake, identifying a new mineralization zone has the ability to significantly increase the scale potential of the project, and is extremely encouraging,” Mr Cheeseman said.
“These results reinforce the company’s commitment to conduct comprehensive, large scale drilling programmes throughout 2022 and continuing in 2023.
“We look forward to further develop our understanding of the mineralization at Mavis Lake and adding these results to our pending Mineral Resource Estimate.”
Quebec land rush
While Ontario is attracting some Australian attention, it is the rich potential of Quebec’s James Bay Region that has led to a major land grab.
Megado Minerals Limited (ASX: MEG), which recently entered into a formal and binding agreement to acquire the Cyclone Lithium Project in Quebec, says the James Bay Region is fast emerging as Canada’s, and perhaps one of the worlds, premier hard rock lithium districts.
Other ASX-listed explorers that have taken up positions in the James Bay region include Winsome Resources Limited (ASX: WR1), Cygnus Metals Limited (ASX:CY5), Loyal Lithium Ltd (ASX: LLI) and Cosmos Exploration Limited (ASX: C1X).
Megado Minerals’ Cyclone Project in James Bay is centred on approximately 130km2 of the Aquilon Greenstone Belt. The project area has had limited historical exploration for lithium and is also highly prospective for massive nickel sulphides and orogenic style gold deposits.
“Acquiring the Cyclone Project significantly enhances our North American footprint and is consistent with our strategy of securing highly prospective exploration projects that provide exposure to the green energy transition and global decarbonization,” Managing director, Ben Pearson, said.
“The geology of the Aquilon Greenstone Belt and its potential to host lithium discoveries, in the right jurisdiction is compelling. We look forward to exploring and drilling this project in conjunction with our North Fork REE Project.”
Cygnus Metals Limited (ASX:CY5) has increased the size of the Pontax Lithium Project in the highly prospective James Bay lithium district, Québec to over 180 sq. km.
“We are poised to create substantial shareholder value over the next six months. We have already demonstrated our credentials in-country by acquiring Pontax and obtaining additional ground immediately adjacent and along strike. This deal with Sirios Resources ensures we secure the most favourable ground immediately to the North and adjacent to Pontax,” Managing Director, David Southam, said.
“Prior to this deal, we had already established the presence of spodumene-bearing pegmatites over a 700m strike length. Assays from the first two holes demonstrated multiple high grade mineralized zones and, importantly, more than doubled the last known depth extension from historical drilling to 230m vertical.
“The current 15,000m diamond drill programme has been supported by additional rigs which are now at work following the successful completion of ice road access. The drilling is aimed at both infilling the known spodumene area, extending it and making new discoveries along what is a highly prospective belt in a world-class lithium province.”
In early February, Winsome Resources (ASX: WR1) raised up to A$60M to accelerate work on its Canadian lithium projects.
A relatively early mover in this latest wave, Winsome has already achieved some very promising drilling success at its 100% owned Adina project. The company recently announced a potential extension to the strike length of the Adina pegmatite body to 1,600m.
“These results are just as impressive as our initial assays from drill hole AD-22-005 and confirm the high- grade nature of the lithium mineralization at the Adina Main Zone,” Managing director, Chris Evans, said.
“They also give us encouragement for the numerous other intersections which are currently being logged, sampled, assayed and interpreted. The progress since we made the Jamar Discovery in September is remarkable and we continue to rapidly progress an intensive drill programme at Adina with the recent backing of the capital markets.”
In October 2022, Loyal Lithium (ASX: LLI) entered agreements to acquire 100% of the Trieste Lithium Project, and in November 2022 the company expanded the project to comprise a total of 466 mineral claims totalling 251km2.
The company recently announced that new high resolution historical satellite data (multi-spectral) correlates with the known mapped pegmatites and therefore can be used as an efficient and cost-effective tool to refine field programme targets at Trieste.
The company subsequently engaged Geospatial Intelligence Ltd to conduct more complex derivations of satellite borne data across the Trieste Lithium Project to streamline its method of refining targets for the inaugural field programme in the Canadian spring 2023.
The 100% owned Trieste Lithium Project is a large-scale lithium project located 14km east of Winsome Resources’ Adina Lithium Project.
The current Canadian lithium land rush is expected to continue to grow throughout 2023.