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First Electric Lithium Mine in Canada to Reinforce Battery Supply Chain

published: 2022-12-08 9:30

The demand for lithium-ion batteries will increase significantly as transportation gradually transitions to electrification, though the restricted level of lithium mine resources and the security of supply chain must also be taken into account. Snow Lake Lithium, as a result, is planning to establish the first electric lithium mine in Canada, and has signed a MOU with LG.

In order to attain net-zero emission by 2050, we require the help of lithium-ion batteries for the popularization of electric vehicles, as well as energy storage systems for renewable energy plants. With that being said, the capacity of lithium mine, even if all mine grounds initiate operation smoothly as scheduled, would merely satisfy 50% of demand by 2030.

In addition, most existing lithium mine resources are located at Australia and South America, with China possessing most shares, and more than 2/3 of lithium mine is also processed in China, making the country the producer of 80% of the world’s lithium batteries. Considering how it would take a decade to activate a lithium mine ground, Western countries will experience difficulties in catching up.

China had vigorously invested in electrification a long time ago, and targeted supply chain for lithium, cobalt, neodymium, and other key metals. In comparison, Snow Lake was discovered back in the 1930s to contain abundance of lithium resources, though the target was placed solely on gold back then. Snow Lake Lithium, seeing this opportunity, is planning to establish the first all-electric lithium mine in the world, where excavated lithium would be processed into 6% spodumene.

Snow Lake Lithium has signed a MOU with LG, and the latter is also planning to construct a hydroxide processing plant in nearby area that is able to convert spodumene into battery-grade lithium for the preparation of its super factory.

Snow Lake is situated roughly 643km north of Winnipeg, Canada, which is regarded as an excellent geographical location, where scattered products can be first transported to central US, before getting send to various key production centers through railway. CEO Philip Gross commented that the company has merely excavated 1% of lithium, and is expected to supply 160K tons of 6% spodumene each year. Operation is scheduled to begin in 2025 or 2026.

Snow Lake Lithium is also working with Swedish company Epiroc on providing all-electric mining equipment. As commented by Gross, what differentiates from the excavation method based on salt water in the past that would pollute groundwater and drinking water is that the new method digs out hard rocks from underground, then crush them before obtaining key elements. However, there would be many challenges in the future, for example, the batteries for electrical equipment must function under Canada’s winter temperature that can go as low as minus 35-40°C.

If all goes according to plan, Snow Lake Lithium will provide enough lithium for North America that can produce batteries for approximately 500K units of EVs each year.

 (Cover photo source: Unsplash)

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