- Historically developed lithium mine site shows hitherto unexplored resources
- Electric vehicle battery demand driving lithium supply shortage fears
- Manitoba generating new excitement as mining companies seek untapped potential
QMC Quantum Minerals Corp.’s (OTC: QMCQF) (TSX.V: QMC) (FSE: 3LQ) exploration of a forgotten treasure in Manitoba’s southeastern climes may yield a significant source of lithium amid exploding demand for the tech-friendly metal during the coming decade. Notably, lithium is on the U.S. Government’s Final List of Critical Minerals for 2018 (http://nnw.fm/bpW8V).
The company’s hard rock mining operation is rebooting a 60-year-old production field that contains 13 adjoining mineral claims across 6,538 acres located some 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Winnipeg. The Irgon Dike property’s lithium potential has been known since it was developed by The Lithium Corporation of Canada Ltd. (“LCOC”) in the 1950s, but more recent technological analysis is reporting possible resources beyond the estimated 1.2 million tons of lithium oxide-bearing pegmatite graded at 1.51 percent concentration that LCOC identified over a length of 365 meters and to an explored depth of 213 meters (http://nnw.fm/aqS7n).
Recent 3-D modeling indicates that exploration and underground development has only occurred on the upper and central parts of the dike, which means that there’s a large part of the dike that may yet yield untapped tonnage. The dike is open both along strike and to depth, raising the likelihood of rapidly firing up the shuttered operation. In the 1950s, a complete mining plant was built at the site to process 500 tons of ore per day, and a three-compartment shaft was sunk 74 meters deep, but work stopped as the lithium oxide market proved too unfavorable for further outlays by the company at the time.
Manitoba’s modern era is a different world from what LCOC encountered, in a variety of senses. Most significantly, lithium has become a promising metal whose current supply levels are expected to fall far short of demand, sparking a race by corporations and national governments to secure supply chains where possible. China’s aggressive bid for 30 percent ownership of lithium triangle corporation Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile was rebuffed by the Chilean government last year, raising the specter of political discord before an agreement was reached this month allowing China’s Tianqi Lithium to buy a $4.07 billion stake for 24 percent of the Chilean company (http://nnw.fm/DR5Xj).
Much of the reason for lithium’s outlook is that the metal has become a key element of modern devices, whose technology is becoming ubiquitous in society. Smartphone ownership is almost as much of a “necessity” as having a car and reaches a younger demographic than automobile ownership. The batteries powering those phones rely on lithium as a key component but are only a fraction of the use potential exhibited by the batteries for electric vehicles, which are gaining ascendancy as consumers and world governments alike look for ways to reduce the pollutant impact of petroleum fuels powering the traditional auto industry. France and Britain are making plans to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040 (http://nnw.fm/dZs8C), China’s government is pushing for two million EV sales by 2020 (http://nnw.fm/yY6Tv) and, in the United States, California is pushing for five million EVs on the road by 2025, with eight other states following that state’s sales target of 15.4 percent EVs by that year (http://nnw.fm/UbZP1).
Manitoba’s mining industry is also acquiring a new level of interest from a variety of exploration companies. The province in Canada’s south-central region has historically had the ups and downs typical of mineral endeavors, but a recent economic summit provided some information on Manitoba’s outlook (http://nnw.fm/evC4w).
“I was at the mining conference in Toronto back in the beginning of March and I was surprised at the enthusiasm shown for Manitoba by both mining exploration companies and the mining companies,” Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen said during the event. “We know it’s a long haul. To develop a mine takes a long time but the mining companies and exploration companies were calling Manitoba the untapped jewel of potential.”
The Irgon site assays conducted by LCOC decades ago showed 2.3 percent lithium oxide over 7.3 feet, as noted in a recent report issued by QMC (http://nnw.fm/gO9U9). That puts the deposits there in the high-grade class, commercially feasible at present lithium prices. QMC Quantum Minerals’ portfolio also includes two volcanic massive sulphide (VMS) properties collectively known as the Namew Lake District Project, which has metal-rich mineral deposits over approximately 23,000 hectares (about 57,000 acres) within the productive Flin Flon/Snow Lake VMS mining district of northwestern Manitoba.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.QMCMinerals.com
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