Can Avalon Advanced Materials ride the lithium tidal wave?

Lithium miners have been the best performing sector of almost every sector of the stock market over the past year. This has been due to a ‘tidal wave’ of new lithium demand as electric vehicle (EV) sales dramatically increased over the past year. For example global electric car market share more than doubled from 4.2% in calendar year 2020 to 8.7% in the month of June 2021. This has led to a surge in lithium demand and subsequently lithium prices in 2021.

Lithium prices (1 year chart) have risen rapidly due to a massive demand increase from booming EV sales

Source: Trading Economics

One under the radar lithium junior is Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) (“Avalon”). Avalon has six projects, providing investors with exposure to lithium, tin and indium, as well as rare earth elements, tantalum, cesium and zirconium. Avalon is currently focusing on developing their Separation Rapids Lithium Project near Kenora, Ontario, while looking at several new project opportunities, one being a lithium hydroxide (and other materials) refinery in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. They are also working to advance their Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum Project, in Ontario, Canada.

Separation Rapids Lithium Project (100% owned; Ontario, Canada) + possible lithium battery materials refinery (Thunder Bay, Canada)

Avalon completed a PEA of their 100% owned Separation Rapids Lithium Project in 2018, resulting in a pre-tax NPV8% of $156 million, post tax IRR of 22.7%, CapEx C$77.7 million with a 20 year mine life.

Then in March 2021, Avalon announced a Letter of Intent (“LOI”) with Fort William First Nation (“FWFN”) to collaborate on the development of a lithium battery materials refinery located on industrial lands owned by FWFN in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As stated in the announcement: “This facility would be designed to accept lithium mineral concentrates from Avalon’s Separation Rapids Lithium Project (70 km north of Kenora) and Rock Tech’s Georgia Lake Lithium Project (145 km northeast of Thunder Bay), as well as potentially other emerging, new lithium mining operations in northern Ontario, to produce lithium hydroxide and other lithium battery materials.”

Then in May 2021, Avalon reported that their recent process testwork using dense media separation (“DMS”) technology had proven to be successful at producing a high-quality petalite lithium mineral concentrate (4.0% – 4.2% Li2O) from their Separation Rapids Lithium Project. The concentrate is suitable for the needs of specialty glass-ceramic end-users. As a result, Avalon is now looking at acquiring their own DMS equipment so they can more quickly meet the needs of the many end-users that have expressed interest over the years in their petalite product samples. Avalon will also resume exploration work this summer on the western part of the Separation Rapids property to further work towards growing their resource.

Avalon Advanced Materials Separation Rapids Lithium Project – PFS & PEA completed

Source: Company presentation

Announced in July 2021, Avalon is now in active discussion to potentially progress their lithium materials refinery in Thunder Bay. The release stated: “On the lithium battery materials market development work, Avalon continues to engage with potential customers looking for new supply sources and are in active conversation with one group in Europe. With a firm commitment on off-take, Avalon can then proceed with its plans for establishing a lithium refinery in Thunder Bay.”

Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum Project (100% owned; Ontario, Canada)

Avalon’s Lilypad Property, located 150 km northeast of Pickle Lake, Ontario, is an exploration stage project with cesium-tantalum-lithium mineralization. It has some potential to be a secondary lithium supply source for Avalon, however, cesium and tantalum are the key products for now.

In July 2021 news, Avalon stated: “Following the closing of the recent flow-through financing, an exploration work program was initiated in June on its 100% owned Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum Project involving re-establishing a field camp and new grid on the property in preparation for detailed mapping and geochemical sampling to commence later this month. Additional cesium mineralized rock was collected from the Pollucite Dyke for continued process research on techniques to efficiently concentrate the rare cesium mineral pollucite, which continues to be in high demand. Drilling is planned for later this year.”

Avalon Advanced Materials project pipeline

Source: Company presentation

Closing remarks

As evidenced by a recent record lithium spodumene spot market price achieved this past week of US$1,250/t (around 3x the contract prices from 12 months ago), there is now a new realization that lithium supply is critically low. This means it is a great time to be a lithium miner and it generally acts to boost the sentiment of the sector thereby helping lithium juniors raise capital and hopefully reach production.

Avalon Advanced Materials is not only a junior lithium miner, as they have a total of 6 projects across multiple critical metals and rare earths. Key critical metals Avalon has are lithium, tantalum, cesium and zirconium; all are on the list of U.S critical materials. The Company trades on a market cap of only C$52 million. One to watch.

Murchison’s Betty Zone getting ready to show us what she’s made of

There is absolutely no doubt that as the world moves towards achieving a lower carbon footprint the metals that go into creating the building blocks for EVs, battery storage, and other infrastructure will continue to see growing demand. It can also be said that the pandemic has shone a giant spotlight on the security of supply for just about everything. Compounding this, global positioning amongst the most powerful nations has further emphasized the importance of supply chains and domestic capabilities.

Well, Canada is here to help, both ourselves and our many allies. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources of every shape and color, including pretty much everything critical to the green revolution (plus a lot of the resources that have already gotten us to this place in time). One Canadian company is developing numerous projects that provide exposure to globally important minerals including Cobalt, Copper, Nickel, Zinc and Silver in two of the best mining jurisdictions in Canada and arguably the world. Murchison Minerals Ltd. (TSXV: MUR) is an exploration company focused on the exploration and development of the 100% owned Brabant Lake zinc‐copper‐silver project in north‐central Saskatchewan. The Company also owns 100% of the HPM nickel‐copper‐cobalt project in Quebec and holds an option to earn 100% interest in the Barraute VMS exploration project also located in Quebec, north of Val d’Or.

Although the Company has been active at its HPM project, including news last week about the identification of significant sulphide mineralization on surface at the PYC showing over a strike length in excess of 1.7 km. Today we’ll focus on Brabant Lake because that’s where I believe the most material news is likely to come from in the next several weeks. Close to infrastructure, the Brabant Lake project is located 175 kilometres northeast of La Ronge, Saskatchewan, accessed year-round via highway #102 with direct access to the power grid. The Brabant-McKenzie VMS deposit contains indicated and inferred resources of almost 10 million tonnes and is open to expansion. The surrounding 626.9 km2 land package is highly prospective for additional VMS deposits, which tend to occur in clusters. This is a solid starting point on the road to completing a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). But what has me most interested in the near term is the prospective new play approximately 1 km to the northeast and along trend of the existing Brabant-McKenzie deposit called the Betty Zone.

Murchison drilled two holes into the Betty Zone showing in the winter of 2021 and intersected VMS- style massive-sulphide mineralization in both holes. The best assay was in hole BZ21-002, which intersected 4.40% zinc, 1.33% copper, 12.95 g/t silver from 280.73 to 281.65 metres (0.92 m), including 0.42 m at 3.76% zinc, 2.40% copper, 21.70 g/t silver and 0.12 g/t gold. The observed mineralization and corresponding metamorphosed VMS-type alteration in these 2021 winter drill holes appear similar to what is observed at the Brabant-McKenzie Deposit. But critically, a borehole electromagnetic survey was conducted in these two holes at the conclusion of the 2021 winter drill program. The resulting data indicates that the holes narrowly missed a large conductive body located immediately down dip of the observed mineralization and is approximately 100 to 300 metres below surface. Initial modeling suggests the anomaly has a 700-metre strike length. This anomaly is considered highly prospective, and drilling has just commenced on two new holes into the heart of this anomaly.

With roughly 109 million shares outstanding, Murchison has a market cap of approximately $8.2 million based on yesterday’s closing price of $0.075. With an already high-grade VMS deposit hosting a NI43-101 compliant resource of 2.1 Mt @ 10% ZnEq (Indicated) and 7.6 Mt @ 6.3% ZnEq (Inferred) and an active drilling program this could be an inexpensive option for exposure to materials essential for the build out of the green energy revolution. Murchison has assembled an impressive set of prospect rich assets. Now they have to prove up an economic resource that they can share (for profit of course) with the world.

Focused on feeding the EV boom with battery metals, Global Energy Metals understands the value of their Nevada location

Without doubt one of the biggest disruptions this decade will be the rapid move to electric vehicles (EV). As reported here, UBS recently forecasted US$100kWh batteries by 2022, EV/ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) parity by 2024 and that “there are not many reasons left to buy an ICE car after 2025”. Three of the key metals in demand to feed the EV boom will be cobalt, nickel, and copper. Today I discuss a company that has all three as well as some gold potential. The Company still has a very low market cap and has 3 combined projects in safe countries. These include a recently purchased project (Lovelock Mine & Treasure Box) in Nevada only 150 kilometers from Tesla’s gigafactory.

That company is Global Energy Metals Corp. (TSXV: GEMC | OTCQB: GBLEF) (‘GEMC’). Their focus is to build a portfolio of battery metal assets across key locations such as the USA, Canada, and Australia.

GEMC’s 3 projects are:

  • Lovelock Mine & Treasure Box Projects – Nevada, USA (85%)
  • Werner Lake Cobalt Project – Ontario, Canada (70%)
  • Millennium Cobalt Project (flagship) and Mount Isa Cobalt-Copper-Gold Projects – Queensland, Australia (100%)

GEMC’s 3 combined battery metal projects – USA (Lovelock Mine & Treasure Box), Canada (Werner Lake), and Australia (Millennium & Mount Isa)


The Lovelock Mine & Treasure Box Projects in Nevada USA (85%)

In a very exciting and strategic move recently announced, GEMC has issued shares and made a cash payment as consideration for its acquisition of an 85% interest in the Lovelock Mine and Treasure Box Projects. The properties will be held in GEMC’s newly established U.S. Battery Metals Corp., a new U.S. listed vehicle and wholly owned subsidiary of GEMC.

The Lovelock Mine and property consists of approximately 1,400 acres (567 hectares) in the Stillwater Range of Nevada, USA. It was discovered by George Lovelock and Charles Bell in about 1880 and saw limited production of nickel, copper and cobalt beginning in 1883. GEMC reported that “the general average of the 200 tons shipped in 1886 averaged 14% cobalt and 12% nickel“, which is extremely high grades. After intermittent production no further production from the Lovelock Mine is known for well over a century. Several of the rock samples collected in 2017 showed strong enrichment in cobalt, nickel and copper.

The Treasure Box Project hosts mine workings from limited copper production, which occurred until early into the 20th century. A reverse circulation hole drilled on the Treasure Box in 1976 returned 1.55% copper over 12.2 metres from a depth of 25.9 to 38.1 metres.

Both projects are at the very early stage but appear to have good exploration potential based on their history. A bonus is their location in mining friendly Nevada, USA, and just 150 kilometers from the Tesla Gigafactory.

The Lovelock Mine & Treasure Box Projects are located effectively on the doorstep of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada just 150kms away


Werner Lake Cobalt Project in Ontario, Canada (70%)

The Werner Lake Cobalt Project has an Updated NI 43-101 (2018) Indicated Mineral Resource of 79,400 tonnes at 0.43% Co not including the 2018 drill program. This is an excellent grade for a western located project. There is also exploration potential for copper and gold.

Millennium Cobalt Project and Mount Isa Cobalt-Copper-Gold Projects – Queensland, Australia (100%)

The Millennium Project is a significant cobalt-copper deposit which remains open for further expansion. There is a historical JORC (2012) Inferred Resource estimate which showed grades of 0.14% Co, 0.35% Cu and 0.12g/t Au (using CuEq cutoff of 1.0%). This historical resource estimate is not yet NI43-101 compliant. GEMC intends to upgrade this resource to a current NI43-101 complaint resource.

The Mount Isa Projects include Mount Dorothy and Cobalt Ridge. Early stage drilling results included 7m @ 0.14% Co, 2.55% Cu, and 2m @ 0.12% Co, 0.13% Cu at Mount Dorothy, and exploration rock chip sampling results of 0.31% Co, 3.63% Cu, 1.25g/t Au at Cobalt Ridge.

Closing remarks

GEMC has a current market cap of just C$2.8m. Perhaps the reason the market cap is so low is that the company has had to endure the past 2.5 year cobalt bear market, and has only recently made the USA acquisition.

Recently, companies with USA EV metal assets have done very well as we saw with Piedmont Lithium, Lithium Americas, Westwater Resources, and many others. For investors that are positive on the outlook for EVs and the key EV metals (cobalt, copper, nickel) then GEMC should definitely be on your radar. Plus there is always the chance of GEMC finding gold.