The James Bay region of Quebec, Canada, has emerged as a prominent destination for lithium exploration, attracting a number of ASX-listed companies seeking to capitalise on the surging global demand for lithium-ion batteries. Whilst there are plenty of options out there for lithium hopefuls, the opportunities on offer in this region are piquing the interest of investors.
As with all mineral regions and projects, not everyone will be a winner, however, the current rate of investment into the area has all the signs of being successful for a number of the players.
Let’s have a look at some of the major and emerging players in the area, including Patriot, Sayona, Winsome, Allkem and Olympio. Given the relatively small size of the region, some projects from the Decelles Region are also included in the mix.
Market darling Patriot Battery Metals, led by ex-Pilbara Minerals boss Ken Brinsden, hit the ASX in a big way when it listed back in December 2022. Following his success at Pilbara, there were big expectations for Patriot and based on the initial Mineral Resource Estimate out last week, investors aren’t disappointed. The Inferred MRE contains 109.2Mt @ 1.42% Li2O and 160ppm Ta2O5, making it the largest lithium Mineral Resource in the Americas. This was proof enough for lithium heavyweight, Albermarle, who this week invested C$109 million for a 4.9% (diluted) stake in PMT and a MOU to explore downstream opportunities.
Allkem, under its previous guise as Galaxy Lithium, has been active in the James Bay region for over a decade. The James Bay deposit has grown through continued exploration, with a 2017 Indicated MRE containing 40.33Mt @ 1.40% Li2O leading to a Probable Ore Reserve of 37.2Mt @ 1.30% Li2O in 2021. The 2021 Feasibility Study released in December 2021, forecasted average annual production of 321ktpa of 5.6% Li2O spodumene concentrate with a ~19 year mine life.
Sayona Mining is the first ASX-listed company to progress to producer status in the James Bay region, with a 75%:25% joint venture with Piedmont Lithium. The NLA and Authier deposits are to be developed as part of the ‘Abitibi Hub’ with a 20-year life defined by a Feasibility Study in early 2023 based on a total MRE of 58.3Mt @ 1.23% Li2O. First concentrate from the project was delivered in the June quarter.
Winsome Resources has seen its share price rocket nearly 900% over the past year as it proves up its six projects in the James Bay and Decelles regions. The Adina and Cancet Projects have delivered wide, shallow intercepts including 107.6m @ 1.34% Li2O from 2.3m at Adina, with a maiden mineral resource estimate expected before the end of 2023.
This week, Olympio Metals announced that it had joined the lithium-rush at James Bay following the acquisition of the Cadillac Lithium Project, adjoining Winsome’s Decelles Project. Over 400 pegmatite outcrops have been identified with previous exploration returning up to 3.14% Li2O in drilling and numerous clusters of channel sampling returning >1% Li2O.
All eyes will be following the upcoming IPO of James Bay Minerals, which is seeking to raise up to $6 million under the leadership of lithium-veteran Andrew Dornan. The initial focus for JBY will include the Joule, Aero and Aqua targets within the large La Grande project area. Notably those three targets are located along strike of the highly prospective Corvette and Cancet deposits currently being explored by Patriot and Winsome.
Each company’s flagship project in the James Bay region presents unique opportunities and challenges, from significant Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources through to potential synergies with neighbouring projects.
As technology advances and the renewable energy revolution accelerates, some of these ASX-listed companies are poised to play an essential role in supplying the lithium needed to power electric vehicles and store renewable energy.
While positive results continue to be delivered, expect the funds to keep flowing as investors chase the next ten bagger in the lithium space.
White Noise communications is provided a fee for service working with companies which may have exposure to commodities or securities mentioned in these articles. All articles are the opinion of the author and are not endorsed by, or written in collaboration with, our clients.
Photo by Thomas Lardeau