Freighters have been moving coal, iron and other uncooked components throughout the Terrific Lakes for hundreds of years, but as the battery provide chain takes root, Trevor Walker envisions a new form of cargo crisscrossing the continent’s storied inland shipping lanes.
In five years’ time, the president of Frontier Lithium Inc. aims to be shipping Ontario lithium, processed on the northwestern shore of Lake Outstanding, to the industrial heartlands of Canada and the United States.
“The sport approach is to deliver more than enough chemical substances to support around 50 % a million electrical vehicles a year,” Walker explained to Automotive News Canada at the BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility conference, held May perhaps 31 to June 1 in Sudbury, Ont.
The mining company is creating two adjacent lithium deposits about 100 kilometres north of Crimson Lake, an recognized gold-mining region about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont. Frontier seems to create spodumene concentrate on-web-site in advance of delivery the lithium-wealthy ore to the shores of Lake Exceptional, in which it will system it into battery-quality lithium hydroxide.
“What’s significant is we have the anchor source and the critical mass to guidance a plant,” Walker reported, pointing to the substantial-grade deposits Frontier is creating and the prospect to expand into sections of its residence the place exploration is still beneath way.
Superior TIMING FOR MINING
Money has been hard to come by in the mining sector for extra than a ten years, Walker stated, but the battery-components boom and demand from mobile manufacturers in Canada and the United States signify Frontier is coming to market place at the suitable time.
“The province and OEMs would love to see [lithium] substances from Ontario in 2027, worst circumstance [in] 2028,” he explained. “That’s truly the trajectory we’re operating towards.”
Sudbury-centered Frontier is in energetic conversations with automakers as well as battery-mobile and products businesses as it will work as a result of the early allowing system at its mine. The business has had especially encouraging engagement with international businesses creating crops in Ontario, Walker said.
The hope is to hold the offer chain short, he reported, supporting downstream organizations lively within just the province and retaining the prosperity “as shut to household as feasible.”
Frontier hit its latest milestone Could 31, releasing a pre-feasibility analyze for its mine and processing plant, which are predicted to be energetic for 24 decades. The report expects the first period of that undertaking will price $608 million to create, with foreseeable future expansion bringing total capital charges to nearly $1.5 billion.
Together with financing, obstacles continue to stand in the company’s route, which includes allowing and accessibility. But Walker is pushing to have the mine and processing plant feeding North America’s growing demand from customers for lithium no later on than 2028.
Infrastructure is much less of an obstacle for Frontier than at several potential mines in northern Ontario, but it continues to be a problem. Electrical infrastructure is a mere four kilometres absent from the web site, thanks to the $1.8-billion Wataynikaneyap Electric power undertaking now under building. For materials shipments, an all-year highway extends to just north of Pink Lake, and Walker has begun leaning on the province to prolong the route the vital 100 kilometres to website link up with the proposed mine.
PILOT PROCESSING PLANT
As Frontier improvements perform in the subject, it is also good-tuning options for a lithium-hydroxide plant that will method the mined materials into a battery-quality product. It options to open a demonstration-scale plant on the outskirts of Sudbury up coming 12 months.
The pilot web site will be about a person-five-hundredth the dimensions of its prepared commercial-scale lithium-hydroxide plant, Walker said. Proving out the course of action is “not a requirement,” as the enterprise is relying on nicely-founded output approaches, he reported. But Frontier wants to start training team in a true-earth natural environment and be sure that no technological surprises crop up.
“Ontario has under no circumstances developed lithium chemical substances, so we’ve bought to get this appropriate,” Walker reported.
Though Frontier’s demo plant is booked for Nairn Centre, west of Sudbury, the company’s professional-scale lithium processing plant will be on the northwestern finish of Lake Top-quality. A web-site has not been picked out, Walker stated, but the business is looking at choices as far south as Duluth, Minn. In Canada, Thunder Bay is “very large on the record for candidates,” he stated, becoming a port town with a pulp and paper history. That suggests entry to a pool of staff with some transferable chemical-plant skills.