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Canada ranks among top 5 exports of various critical minerals including platinum group metals, nickel, cobalt, and graphite

Dec 8, 2022

Recently Mining Life & Exploration News attended the Ontario Geological Survey OGS Virtual Showcase 2022. One of the sessions enjoyed by our publisher was the Ontario Critical Minerals Projects and Exploration Opportunities session that was given by Mark Puumala, M.Sc., P.Geo, the Senior Manager of the Resident Geologist Program.


“Northwestern Ontario has definitely seen an uptick in exploration of Lithium over the past few years”, stated Mark Puumala during his presentation.

This is due to the fact that Lithium occurs in association with Rare Element (Li-Cs-Ta) Pegmatites associated with S-type granites in Superior Province. Critical minerals consist of the metals cobalt, copper, nickel, uranium, lithium, magnesium, platinum group metals, rare earth elements and others, and are vital in aerospace, telecommunications, computing, batteries, and an array of clean technology industries.
Canada ranks among the top five exports of various critical minerals including platinum group metals, nickel, cobalt, and graphite.
Northwestern Ontario currently has eight advanced critical mineral exploration sites, including lithium, graphite, copper and platinum group metals (palladium) providing an opportunity for the province to become a leading jurisdiction in critical mineral production.
Critical minerals like lithium and graphite also require processing of the raw mined material to create a useable product, presenting an opportunity for Northwestern Ontario to become a leader in the chemical processing and conversion of critical minerals to provide products for clean technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and large-scale electrical grid energy storage.
The conference spoke to critical minerals projects, the advanced and early staged exploration projects and an overview of those critical minerals projects in Ontario. Leading the way was the active Lithium projects which have doubled since 2021.

There are over 140 active critical mineral projects in Ontario:

• 53 Nickel-Copper-PGE + Cobalt
• 32 Lithium + Tantalum-Cesium
• 16 Zinc-Copper
• 7 Copper
• 6 Niobium-Phosphate-REE
• 5 Cobalt
• 3 Graphite
Along with Molybdenum, Chromium, Tungsten and Uranium.

Also quite noticeable was the amount of exploration activity in the zinc and copper projects along with the Niobium projects that as well doubled since 2021. Currently Ontario has 11 critical mineral producing mines with 9 located in Sudbury, one in Timmins and one in the Thunder Bay region. “This number is certain to rise in the immediate future as there are 19 projects that are at the economic evaluation stage which are focused on Nickel, Copper, Lithium, PGE’s, Graphite, Cobalt, Chromite, Zinc and Niobium”, stated Puumala.
Some of these economic staged projects are focused in on battery metals (Nickel, Lithium and Cobalt), Copper and Platinum Group Elements. Featured in the presentation were just a few of the active projects in Ontario.

Advanced Critical Mineral Projects in Ontario

Lithium Projects

PAK, SPARK Lithium deposits owned by Frontier Lithium Inc. which is located 175 km north of Red Lake. Frontier published a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) in April of 2021 having an after-tax net present value of $974.6M with 21% internal rate of return. Frontier completed their Mineral Processing Pilot Program in March of 2022.
Separation Rapids Lithium Project owned by Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. is another project located just 70 km north of Kenora. During 2022 the company announced an agreement with RenJoules International Ltd. To develop a Lithium Hydroxide along with securing an off-take agreement for Petalite concentrate a major glass ceramic manufacturer.
Rock Tech Lithium Inc. Georgia Lake Lithium project also located in the Thunder Bay mining district includes 5 Spodumene bearing pegmatite deposits.
Seymore Lake Lithium project owned by Green Technology Metals Ltd.  is located 250 km north of Thunder Bay and is aggressively advancing their project with mineral resource estimates for the North and South Aubry deposits that were released in June and are working towards the completion of a PEA.

Nickel, Copper and Platinum Group Projects

Ring of Fire Metals formerly Noront Resources which had been working the area for the past 15 plus years. Ring of Fire Metals is looking at developing Nickel, Copper, Platinum Group Elements, and the Chromite deposit all located in the Ring of Fire region situated 500 km north of Thunder Bay. “These are world class deposits which include the Eagle’s Nest, Black Thor, Big Daddy, Blackbird and Black Label deposits”, stated Mark.
Ontario continues to make progress on the “Corridor to Prosperity” leading to the Ring of Fire region by collaborating with First Nations partners on legacy infrastructure development in Northern Ontario. The government is supporting the priorities of individual First Nations, which see potential Ring of Fire developments as opportunities for prosperity. Together, this has led to significant progress.
Clean Air Metals Inc. with their Current Lake and Escape Lake Platinum Group Elements and Copper, Nickel Projects are located in the Lake Superior region of Ontario, 50 km northeast of Thunder Bay. The company has an Updated Mineral Resource dated November 2021 and filed a positive PEA in January 2022. They are working towards a new Updated Mineral Resource and Pre-feasibility Study. The project currently has an After-Tax NPV of $378M with a 29.8% IRR.
Generation Mining Ltd.’s Marathon Palladium-Copper Project is located just 10km north of the Town of Marathon. A feasibility Study was completed in March of 2021 announcing a 14.6 year mining life, producing 245,000 ounces of Palladium equivalent annually with a NPV of $1.07B. Generation is targeting production for 2024 which will make them Ontario’s next Critical Mine. Christmas came early for Generation Mining as the company announced November 30th simultaneously with the the Ontario government the approval of an environmental assessment proposal to mine platinum group metals near Marathon, supporting the province’s priority of promoting Ontario’s mining sector.
Canada Nickel has been aggressively advancing their Crawford Nickel project, which is located near the world-famous Kidd Creek mine, 42 km north of Timmins. In 2022 the company completed a PEA with an After-Tax NPV of $1.2B with a 16% IRR. In 2022 they completed an Updated Mineral Resource and is working towards their Feasibility Study which is targeted for completion by the end of 2022.
Sudbury continues to be a major contributor of Critical Minerals in Ontario with mines producing Nickel, Copper and Platinum Group Elements. Exploration activity continues to be strong in the Sudbury camp with three active mines, recently commenced production or advancing towards near-term production (Vale, Glencore and KGHM). Vale’s Copper Cliff South Mine just recently celebrated their grand opening.
Located just 70 km southwest of Sudbury is Magna Mining Inc.’s Shakespeare Nickel, Copper and PGE project. This was a past producing mine and operated for a brief stint from 2010-2012. A Feasibility Study was released in March of 2022 with a 7 year mine life and a NPV of $140M with a 21.5% IRR. This will be an open pit operation.
Located just 60 km east of Sudbury is New Age Metals Inc. with their River Valley Palladium project. New Age has been conducting a large amount of work on the property during 2021 and into 2022 in order to advance their River Valley project. The company published a Mineral Resource Update in November of 2021 and has a Pre-feasibility Study underway targeted for release before the end of Q1 2023.
Mark had expressed enthusiasm when he spoke about what he called an existing and important new project that is further up the critical minerals supply chain. The company he was speaking about was the Electra Battery Materials Company and their Battery Materials Park project. They are currently expanding and recommissioning an existing refinery located in the Town of Cobalt which will produce a battery grade cobalt sulfate. The company expects to be in production in early 2023 and has plans to include Lithium-ion battery recycling, a battery grade Nickel refinery and a battery precursor manufacturing facility.

Early Stage Critical Mineral Projects

Ontario is primed to help meet the needs of the electric vehicle surge and demand for critical minerals used in the New Green era. Early stage exploration projects demonstrate how grassroots critical minerals exploration in Ontario is leading to new critical mineral discoveries. One of these projects is the Palladium One Mining’s Tyko Nickel Copper property which is located 55 km northeast of Marathon. This project is a new high grade Nickel discovery.
Another discovery is the Hecla-Kilmer REE property owned by VR Resources Ltd. which is located 110 km north of Kapuskasing. This rare earth element mineralization was discovered in 2020. In 2022 they had a successful diamond drill program with some very promising results.
Ontario sees huge potential for new discoveries and provides tremendous opportunity for critical minerals exploration and development. Ontario is a globally significant producer of critical minerals including nickel and cobalt and is home to several advanced lithium and graphite mineral development projects. Ontario stands ready to meet the growing demand for critical minerals and is reaping the benefits.

For this article and more visit the digital copy of: The Northern Ontario Mining Report

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Tags: Northern Ontario / Green Mining / Battery Metals / All Articles