Lithium Junior Miner News For The Month Of December 2019

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Welcome to the December 2019 edition of the “junior” lithium miner news. I have categorized those lithium miners that won’t likely be in production before 2021/22 as the juniors. Investors are reminded that most of the lithium juniors will most likely be needed in the mid and late 2020s to supply the booming electric vehicle [EV] and energy storage markets. This means investing in these companies requires a higher risk tolerance, and a longer time frame.

December saw lithium prices fall again, and a quieter month of news from the lithium juniors.

Lithium spot and contract price news

During December, 99% lithium carbonate China spot prices were down 5.20%. Spodumene (5% min) prices were down 2.1%, and spodumene (6% min) prices were reported in December by Mineral Resources at US$520/t.

Fastmarkets (formerly Metal Bulletin) reports 99.5% lithium carbonate battery grade spot midpoint prices cif China, Japan & Korea of US$8.75/kg (US$8,750/t), and min 56.5% lithium hydroxide battery grade spot midpoint prices cif China, Japan & Korea of US$10.75/kg (10,750/t).

Lithium hydroxide, battery grade, cif China, Japan &Korea

Lithium carbonate, battery grade, cif China, Japan & Korea

Source: Fastmarkets

Lithium market news

For a summary of the latest lithium market news and the “major” lithium company’s news, investors can read my “Lithium Miners News For The Month Of December 2019” article. Highlights include

  • Canaccord: Lithium needs US$30 billion to meet long-term demand.
  • Macquarie’s Tim Treadgold: “Lithium stocks close to the bottom, it’s time to revisit a sold-down sector.”
  • Simon Moores: “2020 begins the battery metals and energy storage revolution decade… If you think there is not enough battery capacity well materials (EV metals) is worse.”
  • Leading European battery maker Northvolt is aiming to build almost triple the number of large factories it currently has planned.
  • Battery prices fall nearly 50% in 3 years, spurring more electrification: BNEF. Average market prices for battery packs are $156/kWh in 2019… Prices are projected to fall to around $100/kWh by 2023.
  • EU approves 3.2 billion euro state aid for battery research.
  • GM (NYSE:GM), LG Chem (OTCPK:LGCLF) to create $2.3 billion battery cell venture for electric vehicles, to create 1,100 jobs in Ohio.
  • Hyundai (OTCPK:HYMLF) to buy electric vehicle batteries from SK Innovation… for the next four to five years… the deal was worth more than 10 trillion won (£6.62 billion).
  • Ganfeng Lithium signs supply agreement with BMW.

Junior lithium miners company news

Rio Tinto [ASX:RIO] [LN:RIO] (RIO)

No lithium related news.

Bacanora Lithium [LSE-AIM:BCN] [GR:2F9] (OTC:BCLMF)

On November 25, Bacanora Lithium announced:

Bacanora Lithium plc (“Bacanora” or the “Company”) issue of equity to Cornerstone shareholder. Bacanora Lithium plc (AIM: BCN), the London traded lithium exploration and development company, is pleased to announce that it has raised £7,729,150 (approximately US$10 million) via the placing of 30,916,601 new ordinary shares in the Company (the ‘Placing Shares’) with one of its long standing cornerstone shareholders, M&G Plc, at a price of 25 pence per Placing Share (the ‘Placing’), increasing their strategic holding in Bacanora to 19.9%. The net proceeds of the Placing will be used to support pre-construction works at the Company’s Sonora Lithium Project in Mexico…

On December 12, Bacanora Lithium announced: “Bacanora Lithium plc (“Bacanora” or the “Company”) AGM update.” Highlights include:

  • “Securing one of the world’s biggest lithium producers, Ganfeng Lithium Co., Ltd. (‘Ganfeng’), as a 29.9% cornerstone investor.
  • Securing Ganfeng as our joint-venture development partner with a 22.5% direct investment in Sonora.
  • Securing 100% of Stage 1 production at Sonora under two guaranteed offtake agreements with Ganfeng and Hanwa and 75% of Stage 2 production with Ganfeng.
  • Continued longstanding support from our earliest institutional investor M&G Plc (‘M&G’) who increased their investment in Bacanora to 19.9%.
  • Completion of a Feasibility Study for the Zinnwald Lithium Project in Germany.”

Investors can view the company’s latest presentation here.

Catalysts include:

  • 2020 – Further project financing announcements for Sonora, and/or Zinnwald.
  • ?2020 – Plan to commence Sonora production ramping to 17,500 tpa, and in stage two 35,000 tpa.

Core Lithium Ltd. (formerly Core Exploration) [ASX:CXO] [GR:7CX] (OTCPK:CXOXF)

Core 100% own the Finniss Lithium Project (Grants Resource) in Northern Territory Australia. Significantly they already have an off-take partner with China’s Yahua ($2.4b market cap, large lithium producer). The Company states they have a “high potential for additional resources from 500km2 covering 100s of pegmatites.

On November 25, Core Lithium Ltd. announced:

New wide spodumene pegmatite drill intersections outside current Mineral Resource at Carlton… Carlton expected to contribute significantly to an increased mine life at Finniss Lithium Project.

On December 12, Core Lithium Ltd. announced: “World-class pegmatite intersection at Finniss.” Highlights include:

  • “World-class 119m drill intersection of pegmatite at BP33 Prospect.
  • New intersection includes 105m of strongly mineralised spodumene pegmatite.
  • New outstanding spodumene pegmatite intersections are outside of, and will substantially extend, the current Mineral Resource at BP33.
  • Two other recent RC drill holes at BP33 also intersected pegmatite outside the current Mineral Resource, with an upgraded Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimate planned for the March 2020 quarter.
  • The expanded, high-grade lithium deposit at BP33 is expected to contribute significantly to an increased mine life at the Finniss Lithium Project.
  • Mining studies and updated Feasibility Study, to be completed in H1 2020, are expected to show high-grade continuous mineralisation at BP33 and Carlton is amenable to efficient underground mining methods.
  • Approvals and financing discussions continuing and further offtake progressing, with the plan for the project to be development ready as market conditions improve in 2020.”

On December 17, Core Lithium Ltd. announced: “Core completes strategic acquisition of new NT Lithium Project.” Highlights include:

  • “Core has completed acquisition of a new strategic lithium project adjacent to the Company’s Anningie and Barrow Creek [ABC] Lithium Project in the NT.
  • ABC Lithium Project comprises large-scale lithium rich pegmatite fields and historic tin-tantalum mining districts with established “LCT” granite sources – similar to Core’s Finniss Lithium Project and various WA lithium pegmatite projects.
  • Demonstrated presence of spodumene in pegmatites of up to 450m long and 15m wide.
  • Rock chip samples grading up to 4.63% Li2O, together with 2.31% SnO2 and 0.61% Ta2O5.
  • Large Early-Stage Exploration footprint- Core holds over 3,250 km2 of granted tenements in the Anningie and Barrow Creek and Pegmatite Fields.
  • Core’s expanded ABC Lithium Project in the NT is close to rail connection that links direct to Darwin Port, with synergies to Core’s Finniss Lithium Project.”

Investors can read my article – An Update On Core Lithium (Formerly Core Exploration), and a company presentation here.

Catalysts include:

  • H1 2020 – Feasibility Study for the Finniss Lithium Project.

Wesfarmers [ASX:WES] (took over Kidman Resources)

The Mt Holland Lithium Project is a 50/50 JV between Wesfarmers and SQM, located in Western Australia. There is also a proposal for a refinery located in WA. Wesfarmers acquired 100% of the shares in Kidman for A$1.90 per share, or a US$545 million in total.

No significant news for the month.

You can view the latest company presentation here.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • Late 2019 – FS due for the Mt Holland Lithium Project.
  • H2 2021 – Plan to commence lithium production.

Sayona Mining [ASX:SYA] (OTCPK:DMNXF)

On December 13, Sayona Mining announced:

Agreement with first nation Abitibiwinni in relation to the exploration phase of the Authier Project… in relation to activities undertaken during the exploration phase of the Authier Lithium Project.

Investors can read the Company presentation here, and my Trend Investing CEO interview here.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • 2019/20 – Authier permitting, project financing and off-take.

Critical Elements [TSXV:CRE] [GR:F12] (OTCQX:CRECF)

On December 18, Critical Elements announced:

Corporate update. Critical Elements… Over the last few months, Critical Elements has been in steady communication with Provincial and Federal regulatory authorities concerning the permitting of the Rose Lithium-Tantalum project (“Rose” or the “Project”).

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • 2019/20 – Authier Project financing announcements. Looking to buy NAL mine.
  • 2022 – Possible producer.

Lithium Power International [ASX:LPI] (OTCPK:LTHHF)

No significant news for the month.

Investors can read my article: “Lithium Power International Has A Very High Grade And Expanding Lithium Project In Chile,” as well as my ex-CEO interview on Trend Investing here.

Upcoming catalysts:

  • 2019/20 – Possible off-take partner and funding announcements for Maricunga Lithium Brine Project in Chile.
  • 2022 – Possible producer.

Millennial Lithium Corp. [TSXV:ML] (OTCQX:MLNLF)

Millennial has tenements at the Pastos Grande Lithium Project and the Cauchari East Lithium Project, in Argentina.

No news for the month.

You can view the company’s latest investor presentation here.

Upcoming catalysts:

  • Late 2019 – EIA approval expected.
  • 2020 – Pilot plant trials to be completed. Off-take agreements and project funding.
  • H2 2020 – Project construction hoped to begin
  • 2023 – Possible producer.

Neo Lithium [TSXV:NLC] (OTCQX:NTTHF)

No news for the month.

Investors can read my February 2019 article “Neo Lithium Is Just Too Cheap To Ignore.”

Investors can read the latest company presentation here, and an excellent video here. My CEO interview is available on Trend Investing here.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • By end 2019 – Environmental Impact Assessment and permitting approval expected.
  • 2019/20 – Project partner/funding announcements.
  • H1 2020 – Feasibility Study due.
  • Late 2021 or 2022 – Potential to start production.

Mali Lithium Limited (ASX:MLL) (Formerly Birimian Ltd)

On November 27, Mali Lithium Limited announced: “Goulamina metallurgy testwork surpasses expectations.” Highlights include:

  • “Achieved target of 6% Li₂O concentrate grade on a consistent basis.
  • World class overall lithium recovery of 87%.
  • Low iron content in concentrates of less than 0.7% Fe2O3 from magnetic separation testwork in cooperation with CRIMM in China.
  • Mica content less than 1%.
  • Final stage of variability testwork now underway.”

You can view the latest company presentation here.

Catalysts include:

  • Q1, 2020 – DFS due for the Goulamina Lithium Project.

AVZ Minerals [ASX:AVZ] (OTC:AZZVF)

AVZ owns 65% of the Manono Lithium and Tin Project in the DRC.

No news for the month.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • Q1 2020 – DFS for Manono.

ioneer Ltd [ASX:INR] (formerly Global Geoscience [ASX:GSC])

On December 9, ioneer Ltd. announced: “ioneer signs Letter of Intent with Shell Canada Energy for sulphur supply.”

On December 18, ioneer Ltd. announced: “Binding boric acid offtake agreement with Dalian Jinma Boron Technology.” Highlights include:

  • “Binding offtake agreement signed with integrated Chinese boron company, Dalian Jinma Boron Technology.
  • Five-year supply contract for 105,000 tonnes of boric acid per annum, commencing in Q1 2023.
  • Agreement secures a key customer for more than 50% of Rhyolite Ridge’s expected annual boron production and validates the quality of the boric acid product.
  • In addition to its substantial internal consumption, Jinma will also act as ioneer’s exclusive distributor and representative in China and Taiwan, excluding large multinationals with Chinese operations that will be supplied directly by ioneer.”

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • Q1 2020 – DFS.
  • 2020 – Off-take and project financing discussions.

Argosy Minerals [ASX:AGY][GR:AM1] (OTCPK:ARYMF)

Argosy has an interest in the Rincon Lithium Project in Argentina, targeting a fast-track development strategy.

On December 5, Argosy Minerals announced: “Rincon Project update.” Highlights include:

  • Preliminary trial cargo of ~5 tonnes of high quality lithium carbonate product from industrial scale pilot plant planned for first shipment during early Q1, 2020 delivering into Sales Agreement executed in March 2019.
  • Product quality exceeding Sale Agreement specifications – up to 99.8% Li2CO3 content.
  • Regulatory approvals process for the construction of an initial ~2,000tpa commercial lithium carbonate processing plant are progressing and authorities have advised are forthcoming.

Investors can view the company’s latest investor presentation here.

European Metals Holdings [ASX:EMH] [AIM:EMH] [GR:E861] (OTC:ERPNF)

On December 5, European Metals Holdings announced:

Proposed subscription by CEZ for a 51% interest in Geomet s.r.o. Further to the announcement on 20 November 2019, European Metals Holdings Limited announces that it has today posted a circular to shareholders (the “Circular”) containing the details of the proposed subscription (the “Proposed Subscription”) of €34,061,265 by CEZ a.s. (“CEZ”) through its wholly-owned subsidiary SDAS, for 51% of Geomet s.r.o. the Company’s wholly owned Czech subsidiary and the holder of the Cinovec licences.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • 2019/20 – Bankable Feasibility Study to be released.
  • 2019/20 – Outcome of potential strategic partnership with CEZ Group.

Advantage Lithium (OTCQX:AVLIF) [TSXV:AAL]

On November 29, Advantage Lithium announced: “Advantage Lithium Corp. files pre-feasibility technical report for its Cauchari JV Project, Argentina.”

Upcoming catalysts:

  • 2020 – Off take and funding announcements.

Sigma Lithium Resources [TSXV:SGMA](OTCQB:SGMLF)

Sigma is developing a world class lithium hard rock deposit with exceptional mineralogy at its Grota do Cirilo property in Brazil.

On November 29 Sigma Lithium Resources announced: “Sigma Lithium third quarter 2019 MD&A”

Note: Of interest was that Sigma Lithium’s spodumene has been successfully validated by several large potential customers.

Catalysts include:

  • 2022 – Plan to be a 220ktpa lithium spodumene producer.

Wealth Minerals [TSXV:WML] [GR:EJZN] (OTCQX:WMLLF)

Wealth Minerals has a portfolio of lithium assets in Chile, such as 46,200 Has at Atacama, 8,700 Has at Laguna Verde, 6,000 Has at Trinity, 10,500 Has at Five Salars.

No significant news for the month.

Investors can view the company’s latest presentation here.

Piedmont Lithium [ASX:PLL] (NASDAQ:PLL)

Piedmont Lithium state they are “the only US lithium spodumene project,” with their 100%-owned Piedmont Lithium project in North Carolina. The company has already identified a 4+ kilometers of strike length in Phase 1 drilling.

On November 26, Piedmont Lithium announced:

Piedmont Lithium receives federal permit to develop mine… Piedmont is accelerating its integrated lithium hydroxide strategy with DFS expected in Q4 2020.

On December 4, Piedmont Lithium announced:

Hatch appointed to deliver PFS for Piedmont’s lithium hydroxide project in North Carolina… Piedmont affirms its integrated strategy with DFS expected in Q4 2020.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • Q4 2020 – DFS due.
  • 2020 – Off-take and project funding announcements.

You can view the company’s latest presentation here.

Plateau Energy Metals [TSXV:PLU] [GR:QG1A] (OTCQB:PLUUF)

Plateau Energy Metals Inc. (formerly Plateau Uranium) is a Canadian lithium and uranium exploration and development company focused on its properties on the Macusani Plateau in southeastern Peru.

No news for the month

Cypress Development Corp. (TSXV:CYP) (OTCQB:CYDVF)

Cypress Development owns tenements in the Clayton Valley, Nevada, USA.

No significant news for the month.

Liontown Resources [AS:LTR] (OTC:LINRF)

Liontown Resources 100% own the Kathleen Valley Lithium spodumene project in Western Australia.

On December 2, Liontown Resources announced: “Kathleen Valley Pre-Feasibility Study confirms potential for robust new long-life open pit lithium mine in WA.” Highlights include:

  • “Pre-Feasibility Study [PFS] confirms technical and financial viability of a standalone 2 Mtpa mining and processing operation at Liontown’s 100%-owned Kathleen Valley Lithium Project, located in the Eastern Goldfields of WA.
  • Forecast average steady state production of 295 ktpa of +6% spodumene concentrate.
  • Maiden Ore Reserve of 50.4 Mt @ 1.2% Li2O.
  • Current Ore Reserve underpins a 26-year mine life with further growth expected from an ongoing 15,000-25,000 m drilling program, the results of which will be incorporated into an updated Mineral Resource Estimate and subsequent Definitive Feasibility Study [DFS].
  • Metallurgical test work confirms the ability to produce a +6% Li2O spodumene concentrate with an estimated recovery of 76%.
  • The Project is located on granted Mining Leases in an established, well-serviced mining district, close to existing transport and energy infrastructure.
  • Financial outcomes of the PFS include: LOM free cash flow after-tax of A$1.94B (averaging ~A$84M per annum during production); Project payback of approximately 4 years post production. Post-tax NPV8% [REAL] of A$507M and IRR of 25%. Pre-production capital expenditure of A$240.5M. Cash costs1 of A$564/dmt Li2O concentrate (excluding tantalum credits).
  • First production expected to commence in 2024, when demand for lithium is anticipated to accelerate significantly due to the strong forecast take-up of electric vehicles globally…”

On December 16, Liontown Resources announced:

Kathleen Valley: continuity of high-grade lithium mineralisation confirmed at recently discovered northern extension.

You can view the company’s latest presentation here.

Upcoming catalysts include:

  • Q4, 2019 – PFS on Kathleen Valley

Frontier Lithium [TSXV:FL] (OTC:HLKMF)

Frontier Lithium own the PAK Lithium (spodumene) Project comprising 6,976 hectares and located 175 kilometers north of Red Lake in northwestern Ontario. The PAK deposit is a lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) type pegmatite containing high-purity, technical-grade spodumene (below 0.1% iron oxide).

No significant news for the month.

E3 Metals [TSXV:ETMC] (OTC:EEMMF)

No news for the month.

Nano One Materials [TSXV:NNO] (OTCPK:NNOMF)

On December 9, Nano One Materials announced: “Nano One joint development with Pulead achieves critical milestone.” Highlights include:

  • “Raw material suppliers accepted by Pulead.
  • Engineering report available for partner review in Q1 2020.”

Other lithium juniors

Other juniors include: ABE Resources [TSXVABE] [GR:1AJ2] (OTCQB:ABEPF), AIS Resources [TSXV:AIS] (OTCQB:AISSF), Ardiden [ASX:ADV], American Lithium Corp. [TSX-V: LI] (OTCQB:LIACF), Anson Resources [ASX:ASN] [GR:9MY], Argentina Lithium and Energy Corp. [TSXV: LIT] (OTCQB: OTCQB:PNXLF), Avalon Advanced Materials [TSX:AVL] [GR:OU5] (OTCQX:AVLNF), Carnaby Resources Ltd [ASX:CNB], Eramet [FR: ERA] (OTC:ERMAF) (OTCPK:ERMAY), Far Resources [CSE:FAT] (OTCPK:FRRSF), Force Commodities [ASX:4CE], Hannans Ltd [ASX:HNR], Iconic Minerals [TSXV:ICM] [FSE:YQGB] (OTCPK:BVTEF), Infinity Lithium [ASX:INF], Kodal Minerals (LSE-AIM: KOD), Lake Resources [ASX:LKE] [GR:LK1], Latin Resources Ltd [ASX: LRS] (OTC:LAXXF), Lithium Australia [ASX:LIT] (OTC:LMMFF), Lithium Chile Inc. [TSXV:LITH][GR:KC3] (OTCQB:LTMCF), Lithium Energi Exploration Inc. (TSXV:OTC:LEXI) (OTC:LXENF), MetalsTech [ASX:MTC], MGX Minerals [CSE:XMG] (OTC:MGXMF), Noram Ventures [TSXV: NRM], NRG Metals Inc. [TSXV:NGZ] (OTCQB:NRGMF), One World Lithium [CSE:OWLI] (OTC:OWRDF), Portofino Resources Inc.[TSXV:POR] [GR:POT], Prospect Resources [ASX:PSC], Pure Energy Minerals [TSXV:PE] (OTCQB:PEMIF), Rock Tech Lithium [CVE:RCK], Savannah Resources [LSE:SAV] (GR:AFM], and Standard Lithium [TSXV:SLL] (OTC:STLHF).

Conclusion

December saw lithium spot prices lower again.

Highlights for the month were:

  • Macquarie’s Tim Treadgold: “Lithium stocks close to the bottom, it’s time to revisit a sold-down sector.”
  • Core Lithium – “World-class pegmatite intersection at Finniss.” Core completes strategic acquisition of new NT Lithium Project.
  • Mali Lithium – Goulamina metallurgy testwork surpasses expectations.
  • ioneer Ltd. – Binding boric acid offtake agreement with Dalian Jinma Boron Technology.
  • Argosy Minerals delivers up to 99.8% Li2CO3 content.
  • European Metal Holdings – Proposed subscription by CEZ for a 51% interest in Geomet s.r.o. (the Company’s wholly owned Czech subsidiary and the holder of the Cinovec licences).
  • Piedmont Lithium receives federal permit to develop mine.
  • Liontown Resources PFS – Post-tax NPV8% [REAL] of A$507M and IRR of 25%. Pre-production capital expenditure of A$240.5M. Cash costs of A$564/dmt Li2O concentrate (excluding tantalum credits). 26-year LOM. Maiden Ore Reserve of 50.4 Mt @ 1.2% Li2O.

As usual all comments are welcome.

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Disclosure: I am/we are long NYSE:ALB, JIANGXI GANFENG LITHIUM [SHE: 2460], JIANGXI GANFENG LITHIUM [HK: 1772], SQM (NYSE:SQM), ASX:ORE, ASX:GXY, ASX:PLS, ASX:AJM, AMS:AMG, TSX:LAC, TSXV:NLC, ASX:AVZ, ASX:NMT, ASX:CXO. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: The information in this article is general in nature and should not be relied upon as personal financial advice.



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