Mining companies like to invent creative names for their properties. The Ring of Fire chromite mining deposit is one that comes to mind since it has been in the public eye for more than 10 years now.
The discovery of a relatively new high-grade lithium deposit in Northwestern Ontario inspired Frontier Lithium Inc. to label the area as Ontario’s “Electric Avenue” (Thank you, Eddy Grant!). The name references the value of lithium for creating batteries for the expanding electric car market.
Despite the marketing pun, Sudbury-based Frontier is taking the project seriously according to Trevor Walker, the company’s president and CEO who is working to develop Frontier’s Pakeagama Lake Pegmatite (PAK) lithium project into a major mining operation.
The deposit is described by the company as one of the highest quality in North America. It is located 175 kilometres north of Red Lake near the First Nation communities of Sandy Lake, Deer Lake and North Spirit Lake.
In addition, the company also discovered a new mineralized area, the Spark Pegmatite, located roughly two kilometres from the main PAK deposit.
“We have encountered high grade lithium over a two hundred metre intersection, which is really a world-class intersection,” Walker said in an interview.
“It is a new resource in the making. Our expectation over the next six months is to double the resource on the PAK lithium project,” he added.
Further to the lithium discoveries, Frontier announced plans to construct a demonstration concentrator at the PAK site to confirm the economic viability of Frontier’s overall lithium project.
“We expect construction to begin in the next 12 to 20 months,” Walker said in an April interview.
“That concentrator will produce both technical grade – which is clean concentrates required for the best glass in the world – as well as produce chemical grade concentrates that could be used for downstream battery industry,” said Walker.
“So that demonstration plant will have a capacity of up to about 15,000 tonnes a year. And that is the first development step,” he added.
Walker said as much as there is talk about the value of lithium for making batteries, he said there is significant value in making glass when one considers the grade of the Frontier lithium.
“Yes, the highest quality concentrates produce a really clean deposit which is what is required from the Cornings of the world. So the best glass in the world is lithiated glass. An example of that would be glass stove tops in people's kitchens. There's about four per cent by weight of lithium oxide in that glass. And as well the latest generation Gorilla Glass® which is now lithiated glass.” Walker explained.
He said Gorilla Glass ® would be used for such things as the latest generation smart phones. He said the lithium allows the glass to take mechanical shock and heat, better than any other glass. Walker said there is a market for the best grades of lithium from companies that produce high quality glass and ceramics.
He said the Frontier PAK project is a source of lithium that is very low in iron, which adds value to the project.
“So deposits that are low in iron and have the ability to produce these clean, clean concentrates, they’re really hard to find. Statistically they’re an outlier. And that’s what this PAK deposit is in Northwestern Ontario,” Walker explained.
“That low-iron aspect and industrial- use potential allows us to take a phased approached to the projects.
“We now have building resources on the project. We are seeing the potential to go fully vertically integrated with the company from concentrates to lithium compounds for batteries.
“The strategy is really a phased approach methodology; crawl before we walk, walk before we run.