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James Bay – The Newest Lithium ‘Gold’ Mine

15 September 2023 14:00
James Bay Feature

The demand for lithium continues to rise in tandem with global nations pushing toward decarbonisation and greener energy. As a crucial component in rechargeable batteries, the intense growth of the electric car industry has fostered the critical minerals success, attracting numerous explorers in search of lucrative lithium prospects.

McKinsey & Company recently published an analysis of the burgeoning lithium market, with a particular focus on Australia’s potential to seize this opportunity. Their findings indicate a projected annual growth rate of 26 percent in battery-electric vehicle production until 2030, translating to a corresponding 20 per cent annual surge in lithium demand.

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Figure 1: Mckinsey & Company data on the growth of Lithium demand and BEV Production

At present, the worldwide demand for lithium stands at 0.72 million metric tons of LCE, and based on these projections, set to reach 3.06 million metric tons of LCE by 2030.

Australia is strategically positioned to assert its dominance in this market, as it is ranked as the world’s leading lithium producer, contributing 53 percent of the global supply, and ranking second in known lithium resources.

However, Australia isn’t the sole supplier of this sought-after resource.

In recent times, the emerging James Bay Region has captured the attention of both investors and exploration companies. Renowned for its pristine lakes and hosting the world’s largest underground generating station, this region now finds itself on the brink of a mining surge, focusing on a commodity that is experiencing a remarkable upswing.

The James Bay Province

Situated in Quebec, Canada, the expansive James Bay region blankets 350,000 square kilometres of boreal forests and an intricate network of rivers and lakes.

James Bay distinguishes itself from other mining jurisdictions through its unique concentration of world-class lithium projects. Housing a remarkable 60 mining companies, all with their sights set on the same pegmatite deposits, this region seamlessly blends grassroots and greenfield projects alongside established mining giants and global lithium production hubs.

The region’s allure is so compelling that the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests has officially christened it the ‘spodumene suite.’

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Figure 2: Mining tenements in James Bay Region

James Bay Minerals (ASX:JBY)

One of the Companies aiming to seize the opportunities in this region is the newly listed James Bay Minerals, which made its debut on the ASX on September 12. Since its listing, the Company has witnessed remarkable growth, offering substantial benefits to its investors.

Initially entering the market with an IPO price of 20 cents per share, the company’s stock price surged to an impressive 59 cents on Friday, marking an astounding increase of 195 percent.

This milestone of trading on the ASX signifies a significant achievement for this Canada-focused exploration company. Notably, James Bay Minerals has recently acquired a 100 percent interest in one of the most extensive lithium exploration portfolios in the James Bay region, with this acquisition boasting a high-quality lithium portfolio, covering a vast expanse of 224 square kilometres.

James Bay Minerals currently holds 104 active claims, bolstered by three binding agreements that ensure complete ownership of an additional 333 claims. This cumulative total of 437 claims encompasses the expansive La Grande Project and the promising Troilus Project.

These Projects are strategically positioned at the heart of the La Grande Greenstone Belt, a location that has garnered worldwide acclaim due to the multitude of world-class lithium-pegmatite discoveries within the region.

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Figure 3: Location of the James Bay Projects in Quebec

Leading Lithium Producers

Much like the triumphant IPO journey of James Bay Minerals, several other explorers in the region have seen their share prices soar, providing substantial returns for investors.

For instance, Lithium Universe, which commenced trading under the name Mogul Games, witnessed an astonishing 240 percent increase in its share price following its IPO listing.

Similarly, Loyal Lithium experienced a doubling of its share price after releasing findings from its fieldwork in the region, which unveiled a promising cluster of lithium-bearing pegmatites.

The prominent players spearheading the exploration efforts within the renowned ‘spodumene suite’ include Patriot Battery Metals (ASX:PMT) and Winsome Resources (ASX:WR1), with both companies revealing significant discoveries of substantial, high-grade spodumene mineralisation in their respective drilling campaigns.

Patriot’s Corvette Project hosts the CV5 Spodumene Pegmatite with a maiden inferred mineral resource estimate of 109.2 Mt at 1.42% Li2O and 160 ppm Ta2O5 (at a cut-off of 0.40% Li2O). Remarkably, it ranks as the largest lithium pegmatite resource in the Americas based on contained LCE and is among the top 10 largest lithium pegmatite resources globally.

Winsome Resources’ flagship Adina Project has equally delivered notable outcomes for the Company, yielding impressive results including 1.34% Li2O over 107.6 metres from 2.3 metres to 109.9 metres, and reaching as high as 1.92% Li2O over 30 metres.

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Figure 4: Patriot Battery Metals Covette Property CV5 Pegmatite corridor and primary drilling focus

One to Watch

Another explorer holding substantial land claims in the promising James Bay region is Reliance Resources, and they have ambitious intentions of taking their privately held company public on the ASX.

With plans to unlock the untapped potential of the region, Reliance Resources wholly-owns its Covette Shear Zone Lithium Project, encompassing 170 square kilometres. What’s more, this Project is strategically positioned within a 30-kilometre radius of the high-impact Patriot and Winsome Projects.

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Figure 5: Map of Reliance Resources Projects across the James Bay Region, notably Patriot and Winsome where spodumenes and high grade results have been found.

In a period where the ASX is seemingly experiencing an IPO slowdown, marked by just four explorers going public this month, Reliance’s decision to take the leap could serve as a catalyst for revitalising market momentum.

JBY’s Australian Stock Exchange-listed share price is currently trading at 47 cents (12.30pm UTC+ 8 hours).

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