Full size / Widespread lithium mineralization hosted in claystone units at Rockland’s Lithium Butte Property in Utah.
Sediment-hosted lithium deposits represent a significant and yet untapped natural resource. This is about to change, with several projects in the Western United States pushing to start construction of sizeable mines in order for the nation to become less dependent on imports. While Tesla and Albemarle have dwelled upon novel lithium extraction methods for clay deposits, the market has demonstrated with pilot plants and simple flowsheets that processing with industry-standard methods is highly economic and competitive with brine operations in South America. Importantly, sedimentary lithium mines with on-site sulfur plants promise to be energy-independent – and even net-sellers of energy – with minimal water-usage for lithium extraction. As such, sediment-hosted lithium deposits can achieve a smaller carbon footprint with less environmental impacts than its brine and hard-rock counterparts.
In the past, Rockland‘s President & Director, Dr. Richard Sutcliffe, advanced several big-name projects from exploration to production or until take-over by major mining companies. Now, he and CEO Mike England are running Rockland with a great team to advance the company‘s Utah lithium-clay properties in a similar fashion as other companies have proven already across the border in Nevada.
Members of Rockland‘s management team will be joining this years‘ Zimtu Road-Trip in Switzerland (Geneva and Zurich) and Germany (Frankfurt and Munich) on November 1-5, 2022. To meet Rockland‘s management team and other CEOs of Canadian-listed exploration, green-tech and sports-gear companies, secure your spot at select event locations by clicking here.
As shown in this report, the western part of the United States – first and foremost Nevada – is home to a number of large-scale lithium deposits hosted in sediments, typically within soft clay(stone).
When crossing Nevada‘s northern border to Oregon, you will find the largest known lithium deposit in the US (and maybe in North America), stored in lakebed clays: McDermitt (1.8 billion t @ 1370 ppm Li containing 13.3 million t LCE with a staggering in-situ-value of $1 trillion USD at a market price of $75,200 USD/t LCE).
When crossing Nevada‘s eastern border to Utah, you will find the world‘s largest bertrandite ore reserve, hand in hand with the largest producer of beryllium: The Be Mine from Materion Corp. (NYSE: MTRN; market capitalization: $1.7 billion USD) located at prolific Spor Mountain: “In addition to fluorspar, the Spor Mountain district contains the world‘s largest economic deposits of beryllium and has produced uranium in the past.“
Full size / Located 185 km southwest of Salt Lake City, Rockland‘s properties are road accessible and close to excellent infrastructure with power, rail and nearby communities thanks to Materion Corp.‘s active beryllium mine. Utah ranks #3 US-location on the 2021 Fraser Insitute list
The geologic setting and history of volcanism and mineralization at Spor Mountain is highly prospective for lithium-enriched claystone units: “Feldspathic and montmorillonitic (smectite) clay alteration zones, including lithium-bearing trioctahedral smectite, closely follow and enclose beryllium ore...“ (Source)
Spor Mountain has similar geology to Nevada’s hotbed of activity in the Clayton Valley, where Albemarle Corp. produces lithium from brine and started looking at its clay deposits last year: “Additionally, in 2021 [Albemarle] plans to commence exploration of clay and evaluate technology that could accelerate the viability of lithium production from clay resources in the region.“
Immediately east of Albemarle’s Silver Peak Mine, North America’s only lithium brine operation (in continuous operation since 1966), Cypress Development Corp. is advancing its Clayton Valley Deposit, where lithium occurs within montmorillonite clays, which can be cheaper to process than refractory clay minerals (e.g. hectorite) requiring roasting and/or higher acid consumption to liberate the lithium.
Full size / “Our early work at Lithium Butte is demonstrating that the Property hosts a volcanic formation that has a unique endowment in light metals including lithium and beryllium. This formation exhibits strong similarities with the Miocene Spor Mountain Formation that hosts currently mined Be deposits. Our initial results at Lithium Butte suggests that the Spor Mountain Formation may be more widespread than previously thought and has encouraged Rockland to significantly extend its property position in this region.“ (Dr. Richard Sutcliffe, Rockland‘s President, on August 4, 2022)
Rockland Resources Ltd. has positioned itself as Utah‘s leading lithium-clay exploration company.
• Recently on September 20, Rockland announced a major expansion of its property holdings to 16,219 hectares, a district-scale land package prospective for lithium clay and brine deposits.
• Rockland‘s newly acquired claims contain beryllium (Be) mineralization with grades up to 4,810 ppm Be and are contiguous with Materion Corp.‘s producing Be Mine.
• Rockland‘s newly acquired Fish Springs Flat claims “cover an area interpreted to be prospective for lithium brine mineralization.“ (Utah Geological Survey, 2020).
• Rockland‘s original claims, the Lithium Butte Property (4,460 hectares; ~10 km east of newly acquired claims), host highly elevated lithium grades in the primary Spor Mountain Formation Volcanic Beryllium-Tuff formation.
• Rockland‘s sampling in May 2022 and a historic (2010) database indicate widespread lithium mineralization hosted in clay or claystone volcanic tuff units. Initial grab samples at Lithium Butte showed lithium grades of up to 4,080 ppm on June 29, 2022.
• On August 4, Rockland reported additional grab sample assays, showing significant beryllium grades between 1,790 and of 4,810 ppm Be. These samples also contain anomalous lithium with grades between 380 and 440 ppm Li. The Be-mineralized samples were collected from an outcrop of bedded tuff-breccia approximately 340 m east-southeast of the claystone tuff-breccia samples that contained previously reported high lithium values ranging from 1,200 to 4,080 ppm Li.
• Subsequent channel sampling in July 2022 has revealed 25.2 m @ 1,388 ppm Li including 8 m @ 2,155 ppm Li and 0.7 m @ 3,540 ppm. The sampled section represents the upper part of the prospective unit and the mineralization is open at depth.
Full size / Rockland recently conducted additional sampling from the clay altered rhyolite tuff breccia that returned up to 4,080 ppm Li. The exposure has a stratigraphic thickness estimated to be >20 m and contains at least 2 intervals of claystone mineralization, each of which is several meters in thickness. Channel sampling was conducted across the stratigraphic section and along strike on an exposed dozer road cut. A total of 24 additional samples including 20 channel samples have been sent for analysis (assays pending).
Dr. Richard Sutcliffe, Rockland’s President, stated on August 23: “These channel sample results are an excellent validation of the initial grab sample results from this Project that Rockland reported in June. Importantly, the samples confirm a significant stratigraphic thickness of lithium-rich mineralization on the Property. To advance our exploration program, we have recently established an office in Delta, Utah and are in the process of setting up a facility to provide rapid analysis of rock and soil samples using a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS). This technology will allow Rockland to quickly evaluate additional exploration and drill targets. We look forward to developing this program to evaluate regional lithium mineralized claystone targets in the Basin and Range Province of Utah. The Company is currently staking additional claims and we will provide additional Property details once staking has been completed.”
Dr. Richard Sutcliffe, Rockland’s President, stated on September 22: “Rockland has had the advantage of being an early mover in the acquisition of lithium exploration properties in the Basin and Range Geological Province of western Utah. The Company has acquired an extensive land position in two adjacent basins that both have the hallmarks of the lithium claystone mineralization model including lithium enriched volcanic units, geothermal fluid activity, restricted basins, claystone horizons, and favourable structure. Our field team is currently conducting geological mapping and soil surveys that utilize an in-house LIBS analyzer capable of lithium analysis to rapidly evaluate targets for future drilling.”
Today, Rockland announcced the engagement of EM Strategies, a WestLand Resources Inc. company based in Reno, to assist with permitting of a maiden drill program at Lithium Butte. Mike England, Rockland‘s CEO, stated: “Our field geological team has been making terrific strides in locating both historic and new occurrences spread out over both our recently staked basins in Utah. As we continue to define new targets we feel this is the right time to begin the drill permitting process on initial high priority lithium targets.” Dr. Richard Sutcliffe added: “Management has moved quickly on the Lithium Butte project by engaging EM Strategies at this early stage to get a jump on the permitting process directed at the Company’s maiden drill program.“
Full size / Ganfeng‘s Sonora Project hosts 244 million t @ 3,480 ppm Li containing 4.5 million t LCE (Proven & Probable, 2017) and 448 million t @ ~3,000 ppm Li containing 8.8 million t LCE (Measured & Indicated & Inferred, 2017) for a mine life of >250 years with projected cash costs of $3,910 USD/t LCE and CAPEX of $420 million USD (Stage-1) and $380 million USD (5age-2).
Rockland not only holds a large property package in Utah but also several properties surrounding one of the world‘s largest lithium-clay resources: The Sonora Lithium Deposit in northern Mexico, owned by Ganfeng Lithium from China (the world‘s largest lithium producer supplying Tesla).
• Rockland‘s Elektra Project comprises 4 exploration concessions totalling 41,818 hectares (418 km2).
• Rockland‘s concessions are contiguous to the north (Tecolote) and south (Tule) of Ganfeng’s Sonora Property, covering similar mineralized lithium-bearing clay units localised within volcaniclastic sediment successions in the basins. The Agua Fria target is located southwest of the Sonora Property and was the site of the discovery of significant lithium-bearing clay units in surface exposures and drilling in 2016-2017.
• Only a limited portion of the Agua Fria target has been drill tested to date: Results from a maiden drill program (2017; total of 1,762 m in 16 holes) were encouraging with several intervals of >900 ppm Li over widths of up to 90 m. The best drill intercepts include hole AF 17-001 returning 33 m @ 1,058 ppm Li (from a depth of 3 m) and 21 m @ 1043 ppm Li (from a depth of 54 m). Hole AF 17-014 intersected 24 m @ 1050 ppm Li (from surface).
• Agua Fria was interpreted as having similarities to the La Ventana Zone on the Sonora Property and is characterized by fine-grained minerals, a portion which contain lithium, providing significant potential to increase plant-feed grades by beneficiation.
• Additional lithium anomaly targets on Tecolote have not been drill-tested yet.
• Lithium-bearing clay beds tend to weather recessively, and exposure can be limited, with extensive cover of alluvium and/or younger basalt flows. However, the lithium-bearing units exhibit strong continuity under the cover and remain attractive targets that were not drilled in previous programs.
• Initial exploration activities by Rockland on the Elektra Project may include relocating the drill holes that were completed in 2017, mapping and sampling the lithium-bearing clay beds previously identified, and mapping the stratigraphy. Upon receipt of assay results, a larger Phase-1 exploration program is planned.
• The Elektra Project was initially evaluated in 2015 and the current Mexican owners, and members of the technical team, remain involved. Work conducted from 2015 to 2018 is readily available to Rockland and was completed to 43-101 standards and represents an opportunity to fast-track exploration activities on various targets on the Elektra Project if the current situation with the Mexican Government nationalizing all of its lithium assets (April 2022) gets resolved in favor of foreign companies such as Rockland. “The cash-strapped government hopes that taking control of its lithium can pay for new spending, but it has so far released few details on how far it will intervene in the market or how private companies can participate in the country‘s lithium sector.“ (Source)
• “A potentially vast lithium deposit in Mexico’s northern Sonora state could be worth as much as 12 trillion Mexican pesos ($602 billion), according to a recent finance ministry report, or over a third of the country’s projected economic output this year. Mexico hopes its reserves of the key battery component will help it benefit from a global shift toward electric vehicle production that has turbo-charged demand... President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has urged the private sector to work with the new state miner, saying the size of the investment needed means the government needs partners.“ (Source)
• On March 22, 2022, Rockland announced the addition of a prominent new team member to its Mexican group and the commencement of a reconnaissance field program on its Elektra claystone lithium project located in northern Sonora, Mexico. Miguel Angel Romero Gonzalez joins Rockland‘s Mexican group to advise the company on tenure and legal issues. Señor Romero is a prominent lawyer within the Mexican mining industry, a former General Director of Mines in the Ministry of Economy from 2010 to March 2013, within that period he coordinated the efforts to update the Regulations of the Mining Law and collaborated to make public the mining cartography of the country. He is also an Honorary Member of the Business Mining Council of Mexico (CONMIMEX).
During lithium‘s last bull run, sediment-hosted lithium projects had a tough time competing against brine and hard-rock projects due to uncertainty among investors if processing into lithium carbonate was feasible for this “unusual“ deposit type. This has changed dramatically over the last years with sedimentary lithium projects, especially in the US, gaining strong investors‘ interest, resulting in respectable market valuations.
Historically, there has not been any meaningful production of lithium from sediments in the western world (“whilst lithium-rich clays have been mined in the past, this was for the ‘clays’ themselves which had properties useful for drilling muds, paints and cosmetics, rather than their lithium content“; MinEx Consulting, 2019). As such, only 2 main ways of producing lithium exist today: Ore mining (hard-rock) and brine extraction.
While traditional hard-rock mining techniques use large machinery, soil removal, extensive crushing and grinding, and heavy chemicals for processing, brines use large amounts of water and chemicals to separate lithium from other salts within the solution. On top of that, traditional brine extraction is inefficient and time-consuming. Both hard-rock mining and brine extraction are linked to environmental damages and socio-economic pressures (e.g. Rio Tinto in Serbia with jadarite as an atypical sedimentary ore mineral; or water-related conflicts in South America, where brine extraction requires ~2.2 million litres of water to produce 1 ton of lithium).
Full size / In 2020, almost half (47%) of global lithium production came from Australian hard-rock mines. Other main suppliers were Chile (21%;), China (17%), Argentina (7%), and a group of countries including Zimbabwe, USA, Brazil and Portugal (7%). Source)
“Due to their high grades and global distribution, pegmatite Li deposits account for approximately half of global Li production, the majority of which is produced from pegmatites in Australia... Approximately 35% of the current production comes from two saline brine deposits in salars in Chile which form on evaporation within closed basins of meteoric water that has leached Li from surficial rhyolitic rocks. In clay deposits, Li is leached from rhyolitic lavas and volcanic ash by meteoric and hydrothermal fluids, and is structurally bound in clay (e.g., hectorite; Na0.3[Mg,Li]3Si4O10[OH]2) developed in ash-rich sediments in basins adjacent to the source rocks. These deposits are gaining more attention due to the recent assessment of the McDermitt/Kings Valley deposit in Nevada as the largest Li resource in the United States (~2 Mt), and the selection of the Li clay deposit in Sonora, Mexico, as the future supply for the Tesla Motors gigafactory in Reno, Nevada.“ (Nature, 2017)
Today, investors‘ sentiment for sedimentary lithium deposits is much better and companies active in this space enjoy high valuations. Several projects completed compelling Preliminary Economic Assessments (PEA), Pre-Feasibility Studies (PFS) or Feasibility Studies, demonstrating favorable economics (some have been running pilots plants to showcase simple flowsheets for conventional processing methods). The results gathered over the last years are impressive, showing low operating costs thanks to very fast lithium extraction methods, with the key being: There‘s no need for a lengthy evaporation process thus enabling a fast source to obtain lithium at competitive costs with minimal environmental impact.
More avantages over brine and hard-rock projects:
• Many sediment-hosted lithium deposits occur at shallow depths (low-cost mining) with low stripping ratios (waste-to-ore).
• Minimal to no drilling and blasting required during mining.
• Minimal requirement for energy-intensive crushing and grinding (soft sedimentary rocks and clays).
• Low water consumption during processing (much of the water needed can be recycled in a close-loop system).
• Sedimentary lithium deposits can be very large, providing important scale to support high output and long mine lifes.
• Energy-independent: Mining operations may include a sulfuric acid plant on-site which converts molten sulfur into sulfuric acid. This process produces steam, which can be used to generate enough carbon-free power for the entire processing facility. On-site sulfuric acid plants reduce the number of trucks on the road as each ton of sulfur can create 3 tons of sulfuric acid (sulfur is much safer to transport than sulfuric acid).
• Carbon emission intensity per ton of LCE is projected to be competitive to South American brine operations and substantially lower than US and Australian hard-rock operations.
The low-carbon option: Sediment-hosted lithium mines!
During the 2010s, when the first lithium-clay exploration projects in North America became active, skeptics moaned that processing might prove difficult and expensive compared to hard-rock mining and brine extraction.
With lithium prices having appreciated from about $10,000 USD/t LCE in the late 2010s to now >70,000 USD/t LCE, projected production costs of lithium-clay projects (between $2500 and $4,100 USD/t LCE) are not considered “high“ anymore, especially since hard-rock mining and processing oftentimes cost in excess of $6,000 USD/t LCE and also being much more sensitive to elevated energy prices.
Some sedimentary lithium-deposits contain valuable by-products, such as Rhyolite Ridge in Nevada (revenue generated from boron production is estimated to cover all operating costs for lithium production) and Sonora in Mexico (sulfate of potash). Magnesium, potassium and rare earth oxides (scandium, dysprosium and neodymium) are potentially recovered from a lithium-enriched leach solution during processing.
Although a little outdated, the above figure visualizes some very large sedimentary lithium deposits. Although McDermitt currently has the largest resource within this select peer-group, Jindalee Resources Ltd. has the lowest market value ($127 million AUD). Although Rhyolite Ridge and Big Sandy appear small and insignificant, both project-owners enjoy significant market capitalizations: Almost all of Arizona Lithium Ltd.‘s market value ($186 million AUD) is based on Big Sandy (Lordsburg Project very early-stage) hosting 33 million t averaging 1,850 ppm Li containing 320,000 t LCE (Indicated & Inferred, 2019). All of Ioneer Ltd.‘s market value ($1.3 billion AUD) is based on Rhyolite Ridge hosting 60 million t @ 1,800 ppm Li containing 580,000 t LCE (Proved & Probable Stage 1 + 2 Quarry, 2020) with a current mine life of 26 years to produce 20,600 t LCE annually, making it the most-advanced lithium project in the US (CAPEX: $785 million USD; construction-ready by Q4 2022) and expected to be one of the lowest-cost lithium producers in the world (only $2,510 USD/t LCE) in part due to boron as a by-product.
Full size / Strong share price performance since April 2020: 1,900% AZL (Arizona Lithium Ltd.), 1,011% LI (American Lithium Corp.), 892% LAC (Lithium Americas Corp.), 675% CYP (Cypress Development Corp.), 662% INR (Ioneer Ltd.), and 618% JRL (Jindalee Resources Ltd.)
As lithium prices have increased more than 5-fold since 2021, many lithium exploration and mining stocks have sky-rocketed. Among the best performing lithium stocks is a deposit-type which has not seen much investors‘ love during the last lithium bull-run in the 2010s: Sediment-hosted lithium deposits.
Back then, some investors wrongly thought that something must be wrong with this deposit-type as no active mine was around for comparison to traditional hard-rock mining and brine extraction. However, the only reason why sediment-hosted deposits have not been in production yet is “because there was no necessity for it,“ said Spiros Cacos from Cypress Development Corp.
Now, there is necessity for lithium-clay deposits to be put into production in the US. Several projects in Nevada and Oregon are up and coming, and seen as the only viable option for the US to become independent from lithium imports. Geothermal lithium brine sources, such as Berkshire Hathaway Inc.‘s Salton Sea Project, still face “inherent risks“.
As a curiosity, there‘s no place like the Western part of the US in terms of richness in sedimentary lithium resources, with the exceptions of single “monster“-deposits in Serbia and Mexico: The Sonora Lithium Deposit, owned by Chinese lithium-giant Ganfeng, is so large (estimated at $600 billion USD according to a Mexican finance ministry report) that the government recently (April 2022) made the bold move of nationalizing all of its untapped lithium resources. This has created uncertainty in the Mexican exploration and mining industry, which “will likely delay the creation of a profitable lithium industry in Mexico,“ analysts recently told S&P Global Commodity Insights. “This uncertainty may prevent Mexico from becoming an important lithium producer at a time when the world is scrambling for new supplies amid rising demand for electric vehicles.“
In the US, sedimentary lithium projects are being fast-tracked to production. Lithium Americas Corp. touts its Thacker Pass deposit in Nevada as “the largest known lithium resource in the United States and the next large scale lithium mine“. With 2018-reserves of 3.1 million t LCE and 2018-resources of 8.3 million t LCE, Thacker Pass is a bit smaller than the McDermitt deposit in Oregon hosting resources of 13.3 million t LCE as of July 2022. Australian-listed Ioneer Ltd. might be reaching commercial production faster than Lithium Americas as the latter meets resistance from several indigenous tribes opposing the mine project due to its location on a sacred massacre-síte. Tom Cotton, US Senator from Arkansas, recently demanded answers on partialy Chinese-owned Lithium Americas potentially receiving US funding (“Worryingly, media reports indicate that Lithium Americas’ largest shareholder is Ganfeng, a Chinese company with direct ties to the [Chinese Communist Party] CCP“). Lithium Americas‘ October-2022 presentation states Ganfeng as an insider with an 11.1% equity stake and that the Cauchari-Olaroz Project in Argentina is the “largest lithium carbonate brine operation under construction in over 20 years“, with Ganfeng being entitled to 51% of its future production (49% for Lithium Americas). Ioneer‘s Rhyolite Ridge is “anticipated to come onstream in 2025“, with a DFS (Definitive Feasibility Study; April 2020) making it “the most advanced lithium project in the US and expected to be the lowest cost lithium producer, in part due to the valuable boron co-product.“ Lithium Americas expects results from its Feasibility Study on Thacker Pass in the second half of 2022, whereas the US District Court, District of Nevada (“Federal Court”) has recently scheduled an oral hearing for January 5, 2023 for Thacker Pass‘ Record of Decision appeal.
Recently on September 19, Cypress Development Corp. announced to have achieved a significant milestone with the production of 99.94% lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) made from lithium-bearing claystone from its Clayton Valley Lithium Project in Nevada. CEO Bill Willoughby stated: “We are pleased to receive comprehensive assays validating the extraction process we have designed for our Project. Exceeding the standard for battery grade lithium carbonate [99.5% purity] checks-off an important goal for the Company and its further development of the Project.“ At present, Cypress is in the pilot-stage of testing material from its lithium-bearing claystone deposit and progressing towards completing a Feasibility Study and permitting, with the goal of becoming a domestic producer of lithium for the growing electric vehicle and battery storage market. Metallurgical testing indicates low cost processing can be achieved by leaching with low acid consumption (126 kg/t) and high lithium recovery over 85%. These high extractions prove the dominant lithium-bearing minerals present are not hectorite, a refractory clay mineral which requires roasting and/or high acid consumption to liberate the lithium. Self-generated power from a 2,500 tpd sulfuric acid plant is included in the project’s Prefeasibility Study costs. In March 2021, Cypress announced the development of a lithium extraction pilot plant at del Sol Refining & Extraction facility, south of Beatty, Nevada. The operation of the pilot plant will provide essential data for a planned Feasibility Study and enable Cypress to produce marketing samples to support negotiations with potential offtake and strategic partners.
As noted earlier, Rockland‘s Utah properties share geological similarities with lithium-clays (and brines) found at Nevada‘s prolific Clayton Valley, where Cypress has delineated 1.3 billion t @ 905 ppm Li containing 6.3 million t LCE (Indicated, 2020) and Albemarle operates the Silver Peak Lithium Mine (in continuous operation since 1966). Note that lithium values and mineralization described in similar rocks on other properties are not representative of the mineralization on Rockland‘s properties, and historical work and activities on its properties have not been verified and should not be relied upon.
Excerpts from “The Sedimentary Lithium Opportunity“ (2019):
Sedimentary deposits are considered to share some of the positive attributes of both pegmatites and brines. Sedimentary resources are created when lithium is washed out of volcanic minerals into basins where it reacts with other minerals, creating chemical structures in which the lithium is bound up in a mineral, but much less strongly bound compared to spodumene.
Sediments typically have the consistency of dirt, not hard rock, and sometimes easily break up when placed in water. If the lithium was not bound in a mineral at all, it would wash out in water forming a brine (this is typically not observed). A number of leading projects are proposing not using calcination in their sediment processing flowsheets, meaning the lithium is bound in the mineral with a lesser strength compared to pegmatites. A chemical leach is used to extract the lithium from the sediment, after which the waste sediment can be stacked or back-filled into an open pit... The benefit of processing a sediment containing “loosely bound” lithium is that the solid waste can be easily disposed of without diluting the original resource, similar to the waste materials from pegmatite processing... The “in between” strength of how lithium is chemically bound in sediments results in some of their “best of both world” characteristics when compared to brines and pegmatites, and these strengths should be taken advantage of in future flowsheet development... New leaching techniques and reagent management flowsheets may be helpful in unlocking these sedimentary materials to produce high lithium concentration, low impurity concentration leachates that can be more easily processed into battery-quality lithium chemicals.
The sedimentary deposit lithium projects are young, but I believe that some of them will be built in the 2020s. The healthy mining jurisdiction of Western North America, proximity of the deposits to American battery manufacturers, and possibility for low carbon intensity means that they have excellent potential for supplying lithium for batteries in the near future, and that they should be followed closely. [End of quote]
“Surging prices for lithium are intensifying a race between auto makers to lock up supplies and raising concerns that a shortage of the battery metal could slow the adoption of electric vehicles. Lithium carbonate prices in China, the benchmark in the fast-growing market, stand at about $71,000 a metric ton, according to price-assessment firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. That is almost four times as high as a year ago... But lithium keeps rising, driven by a pickup in electric-vehicles sales in China, the world’s biggest market for EVs... “Lithium is really following the Chinese EV market and that’s just taking off,” said Edward Meir, a metals consultant at brokerage ED&F Capital Markets. “This is a preview of what could await us in the U.S... Companies including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are racing to catch up with front-runner Tesla Inc., investing billions of dollars to bring EV factories online. All have struck deals with lithium producers to lock down scarce supplies... High prices have encouraged companies to embark on lithium projects in Latin America and Australia, the two biggest-producing regions. But analysts say they will take years to hit full speed and ease the shortage, in part because left-leaning South American governments are angling for greater control over their countries’ natural resources. Concerns about the effect of lithium mining on water supplies and other environmental worries also have held back efforts to crack open new deposits.“ (The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2022)
Excerpts from S&P Global Commodity Insights (January 2022):
During the last lithium price bear run, from mid-2018 to mid-2020, investments shriveled from the specialty chemical. In early 2018, a lot of new spodumene ore capacity started running from previous investments in anticipation to an expected EV boom that didn‘t start until the second half of 2020; the oversupply crashed prices and halted investments.
This time, the situation is completely different because demand is solid and growing much faster than supply. EV sales accounted for almost 20% of new car sales in China and over 25% in the European Union in recent months, forcing suppliers to try accelerating expansion and new projects. Financing and permitting, however, are considered significant hurdles.“ Although the battery industry has been investing significantly in downstream battery capacity to power the surging EV demand, lithium is still getting less funding than required – and such investment could be too late to prevent a structural deficit in the coming years. “Unfortunately, battery capacity can be built much faster than lithium projects,” said Joe Lowry, president of consulting firm Global Lithium. “The lack of investment in lithium capacity over the past five years will extend the supply shortage.”
The situation is so critical that Lowry didn’t want to make demand forecasts beyond 2027 – the supply-demand imbalance could be so serious that supply might end up capping demand, so forecasting beyond that could be misleading, he said. “Even well-capitalized major lithium companies have struggled to meet their expansion targets,” Lowry said. “New producers have seen their project timelines extended in many cases due to Covid and related supply chain issues along with their ‘learning curves’. OEMs and battery producers that assumed ‘market forces’ would ensure adequate battery raw materials are finally taking note of the supply-demand issue but much too late to solve the problem in the near to mid-term.” The outlook described by Lowry is confirmed by Platts’ comparison between the expected supply and the expected demand until 2030 [...], which shows that supply should not reach the projected 2 million mt demand by the end of the decade. [End of quote]
Full size / With a price increase of 738%, lithium was the best performing metal between January 2021 and March 2022 (average annual increase in 2010s: 13%; largest annual increase in 2010s: 77%).
With the United States producing less than 2% of the world‘s lithium, the US Government has designated lithium as a “Critical Mineral” of strategic importance to the Nation’s economic and national security.
The policy of the US Government is to reduce the nation‘s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply chain of critical minerals. The “Critical Mineral” designation favors domestic sources of lithium that offer a secure, reliable source of supply.
On March 31, 2022, US President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of battery materials, including lithium.
On June 9, 2022, the Biden Administration announced $7.5 billion USD to build 500,000 EV charging stations across the US and $7 billion for critical minerals supply, representing key pieces of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The US Government designated lithium as a “Critical Mineral” of strategic importance in December 2017 with Executive Order 13817: “A Federal Strategy to Ensure, Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals“
“The Biden administration has championed a policy initially adopted in the Trump era to bolster domestic production of “critical minerals,” a group of 50 metals that are essential to the nation’s economy and national security but are primarily mined and refined outside the United States. Biden has messaged this policy as part of his agenda for climate action. Electric vehicles, for example, rely heavily on supplies of metals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite, but the global supply chain for all five metals is dominated by Chinese industry. The U.S. could hold enormous potential to produce these EV metals. Nevada is chock-full of lithium potential and experiencing a jolt in exploration for the metal.“ (Greenwire, August 2022)
“We believe that mining has to happen more in rich countries. Relying on materials sourced in faraway places means that consumers and regulators ignore the social and environmental impacts that enable their overconsumption. This has to change. Reducing overconsumption will become feasible when rich country governments approve more mines, allowing their citizens to experience the impacts of their overconsumption... In a scenario like this, `Big Lithium´ could look radically different from `Big Oil´. It could be an industry that truly exists to serve people and the environment.“ (“Big Lithium Will Be Built, But By Who?“, 2022)
“Lithium is a key raw material for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, but the lack of investment in new supply in previous years might generate a structural deficit throughout this decade, data from the expected supply versus expected demand (both until 2030) demonstrates.” (S&P Global Commodity Insights, January 2022)
Management & Directors
Mike England (CEO, Director)
Mike has been involved in the public markets since 1983, beginning his career working at the Vancouver Stock Exchange as a floor trader. Since 1995, Mike has been directly involved with public companies in various roles, including investor relations, directorships and senior officer positions. To date, Mike has been directly responsible for raising in excess of $60 million for mineral exploration and acquisitions.
Dr. Richard Sutcliffe (President, Director)
Richard has had management and directorship roles in advancing several precious and base metal projects into production, including the Lac des Iles Palladium Mine (North American Palladium Ltd.; acquired by Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. for $1 billion in 2019), the Island Gold Mine (Patricia Mining Corp.; acquired by Richmont Mines Inc. in 2008, subsequently acquired by Alamos Gold in 2017), Shakespeare Nickel Mine (URSA Major Minerals Inc.; acquired by Magna Mining Corp. in 2017 from Wellgreen Platinum Ltd.) and the Sugar Zone Mine (Harte Gold Corp.; now Silver Lake Resources Ltd.; ASX: SLR; current market capitalization: $1.1 billion AUD). He has had significant involvement in mineral deposit discoveries, numerous resource and reserve estimates for gold, PGM and base metal projects, as well as preliminary economic analyses, feasibility studies, and permitting. His experience spans a wide range of geological environments from precious metals and base metals to energy, with particular expertise in gold deposits and nickel-copper-PGM deposits. He is currently a Senior Geological Advisor to P&E Mining Consultants Inc.
Lindsay Bottomer (Director)
Lindsay has over 45 years of experience in international exploration and development, most recently focused on epithermal gold and porphyry copper-gold exploration in the American Cordillera and Central Asia. He has been a former officer or director of more than 20 public companies, including Entrée Resources Ltd. (TSX: ETG; current market capitalization: $168 million) and Richfield Ventures Corp. While with Entrée, he was closely involved in the discovery and definition drilling of both the Hugo North Extended and Heruga copper-gold porphyry systems (Oyu Tolgoi, one of the world’s largest new copper-gold mines) in Mongolia, and the acquisition of the Ann Mason copper porphyry deposit in Nevada. He was a founding director of Richfield Ventures which acquired and developed the Blackwater gold deposit in British Columbia prior to its sale to New Gold Inc. (TSX: NGD; current market capitalization: $873million) in an all-share deal that valued the junior at $550 million in 2011. In 2020, Blackwater was sold to Artemis Gold Inc. (TSX.V: ARTG; current market capitalization: $681 million).
Charles Desjardins (Director)
Charles brings more than 30 years of public company experience in the areas of finance and public company management. He has served in varying capacities of numerous public mineral exploration and technology companies and has been very active in the Red Lake Mining District since 2006.
Leon Ho (Chief Financial Officer)
Leon is a Chartered Professional Accountant working at Cross Davis & Company LLP, a chartered professional accountant firm providing accounting services to publicly listed entities, primarily in the mining sector. Leon works directly with mining chief executive officers and directors, assisting with their regulatory and accounting needs.
Dave Bissoondatt (Secretary)
Dave has over 35 years of experience with companies involved in the public markets. He has held the positions as Director and as Corporate Secretary in various companies traded on the TSX Venture Exchange and the Canadian Securities Exchange. He has also served on the Audit Committee in some of these companies. Dave graduated from BCIT in Control Electronics in 1975 and in Medical Radiology in 1980. Recently retired from being a manager in health care, he has also been a business owner for many years.
Robert is a Professional Geologist with more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of the minerals exploration and mining industry. He has worked for both major (Asarco, Noranda, Lac Minerals) and junior mining companies, and has his own independent consulting company specialized in exploration, management and administrative roles. His experience includes development and production of the largest gold mine in Canada, development and production of an open-pit zinc operation, development of an underground gold mine, and numerous exploration projects for precious, base, and industrial metals. Robert has authored or co-authored prefeasibility studies, feasibility studies, assessment reports, valuation studies, 43-101 reports (both domestically and internationally), technical reports, and reviews for the TSX Venture and AIM/LSE exchanges.
Garry is the Executive Director of the Ontario Prospectors Association (OPA). He has been a Director, Vice President or President of OPA since its formation in the early 1990s. He currently serves on the Minister of Mines Mining Act Advisory Committee (Ontario) and the Ontario Geological Survey Advisory Board. He graduated with an HBSc (Geology) from Lakehead University, Thunder Bay. He brings to the company extensive experience in managing large-scale exploration and development programs internationally, including Asia and North America. In addition to over 30 years of consulting experience, he held geological positions with a number of mining companies and has served as a director of other TSXV-listed companies, including his current position with Deepmarkit Corp.
Jay has been a mining and securities lawyer in Vancouver for over 30 years. He is currently a partner at the firm Farris LLP and is a director of several publicly-traded resource companies.
Miguel Angel Romero Gonzalez
Miguel is a prominent lawyer within the mining industry of Mexico, a former General Director of Mines in the Ministry of Economy from 2010 to March 2013, during which period he coordinated the efforts to update the Regulations of the Mining Law and collaborated to make public the mining cartography of the country. Miguel is also an Honorary Member of the Business Mining Council of Mexico (CONMIMEX).
Rockland Resources Ltd.
#1240 – 789 W Pender Street
Vancouver, BC, V6C 1H2 Canada
Phone: +1 604 683 3995
Date of Listing: February 22, 2021
ISIN: CA7736671008 / CUSIP: 773667100
Shares Issued & Outstanding: 38,124,448
Canada Symbol (CSE): RKL
Current Price: $0.075 CAD (10/12/2022)
Market Capitalization: $3 Million CAD
German Symbol / WKN : Not listed
Stephan Bogner (Dipl. Kfm., FH)
8260 Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Rockland News-Disclaimer: Neither the Canadian Stock Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS: This news release contains forward-looking statements, which relate to future events or future performance and reflect management’s current expectations and assumptions. Such forward-looking statements reflect management’s current beliefs and are based on assumptions made by and information currently available to the Company. Investors are cautioned that these forward looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause future results to differ materially from those expected. These forward -looking statements are made as of the date hereof and, except as required under applicable securities legislation, the Company does not assume any obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances. All of the forward-looking statements made in this press release are qualified by these cautionary statements and by those made in our filings with SEDAR in Canada (available at WWW.SEDAR.COM).
Rockstone Disclaimer: This report contains forward-looking information or forward-looking statements (collectively "forward-looking information") within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking information is typically identified by words such as: "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "estimate", "potentially" and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. Rockstone Research, Zimtu Capital Corp., and Rockland Resources Ltd. caution investors that any forward-looking information provided herein is not a guarantee of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking information as a result of various factors. The reader is referred to the Rockland Resources Ltd.’s public filings for a more complete discussion of such risk factors and their potential effects which may be accessed through Rockland Resources Ltd.´s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Please read the full disclaimer within the full research report as a PDF (here) as fundamental risks and conflicts of interest exist. The author owns equity of Rockland Resources Ltd., and also holds a long position in Zimtu Capital Corp., and thus may also benefit from volume and price appreciation of those stocks. The author is being paid by Zimtu Capital Corp., which company holds an equity position in Rockland Resources Ltd., whereas the featured company Rockland Resources Ltd. pays Zimtu Capital Corp. for the preparation, publication and additional distribution of this report.