Lithium carbonate prices in China rose to an all-time record high in November, 2021 and tight supply has created great challenges and struggles to meet the accelerating demand. Prices continuously increase as auto makers and battery manufacturers face supply instability of the metal amid a global push for clean modes of transportation. Fitch Solutions upwardly revised its forecasts for lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide prices from 2021 to 2026 to assimilate higher sales of electric vehicles and energy storage batteries used in portable electronics and electric mobility devices. Further, research from the Bank of America’s global research department states that the global electric vehicle industry faces an imminent threat that its battery supply could run out as early as 2025. Prices for lithium carbonate have increased over 320% since the beginning of 2021.
Foremost Lithium’s Zoro Lithium Project, like the Jean Lake lithium property occurs in east-central Manitoba, 20km east of the historic mining town of Snow Lake. The Company is in an enviable position as it continues to add value to its lithium resources with each exploration program. The property consists of 16 claims on an 8,900 acre land package with proximity to excellent infrastructure and an experienced labour pool. Exploration has been rapidly advancing on the property with an integrated program of prospecting, innovative soil geochemical surveys and five diamond drill programs totaling almost 8,500 meters in 60 holes, and $5+ million in exploration expenditures. This exploration resulted in the discovery of 12 new pegmatite dykes.
With the awarding of a $300,000 grant by The Manitoba Mineral Development Fund (MMDF) in September of 2021, a 10-hole 1500 metre drill program is planned on the Zoro lithium property. The drilling will test Mobile Metal Ion (MMI) soil geochemical anomalies. This technology continues to be utilized on the property because the majority of pegmatites and their host rocks are buried by glacial overburden of indeterminate depth. Management believes the potential for additional discoveries of lithium pegmatites at Zoro is very significant as only one third of the property has ever been explored.
The property consists of thirteen pegmatite dykes and additional undrilled targets.
Zoro 1 Claim - 100%-owned with an inferred resource of 1,074,567 tonnes at 0.91% Li2O in Dyke 1. Integrated exploration including five drill campaigns, soil and rock geochemical surveys, a drone magnetic survey, prospecting and mapping on the Zoro project has resulted in the discovery of 12 previously unknown spodumene-bearing pegmatite dykes and the delineation of multiple lithium geochemical anomalies that have yet to be tested. Preliminary metallurgical testing of a spodumene concentrate from Dyke 1 indicates that a high-grade (6% Li2O) lithium concentrate can be produced from the Zoro mineralization using industry standard methods.
Green Bay and Manitoba Claims - There are two additional option agreements under the Zoro Lithium Project which are now 100% owned. These are the Green Bay and Manitoba Options. The Green Bay Option hosts seven spodumene-bearing pegmatite dykes including the highly significant Dyke 8, discovered by Foremost Lithium’s winter 2017/18 drill program. The discovery was based on drilling the MMI soil geochemical signature of Dyke 8. Grades in excess of 6.3% Li2O have been returned from assays of drill core elsewhere on the property and up to 4.0% Li2O from rock chip sampling of outcrops. Localized tantalum assays of up to 0.113% Ta2O5 have also been documented. Significant portions of the Manitoba option are unexplored and underscores the endowment of this ground and its importance to the project.
Zoro Project Drill Highlights
- Maiden resource of 1,074,567 tonnes grading 0.91% Li2O, 182 ppm Be, 198 ppm Cs, 51 ppm Ga, 1212 ppm Rb, and 43 ppm Ta (at a cut-off of 0.3% Li2O) reported on Dyke1 in 2018.
- Five successful drill campaigns completed leading to the discovery of at least 12 new lithium-bearing pegmatite dykes, as the company defines a major dyke swarm over the 30 km² property.
- 36.5 m wide D8 discovered under MMI soil geochemical anomaly, demonstrating the successful application of MMI Technology in the absence of a recognizable geophysical signature of the pegmatite dykes
- Good metallurgy from low-iron, white to light green spodumene demonstrated. By-product metal potential assessed in NI 43-101 grade and tonnage estimate.
- Excellent grades and widths, up to 1.4% over 49.8 m.
- Excellent infrastructure: surrounded by operational mines, rail, power and access to skilled work-force
- Snow Lake is mining friendly with a long history of extractive industries. Manitoba ranks highly for mining investment by the Fraser Institute.
Access the link below to view the current NI 43-101 (known as Company’s previous name Far Resources):
Mineralogical and Characterization
Abundant overburden cover characterizes much of the property and the pegmatite dykes do not have a recognizable geophysical signature. Many of the thirteen spodumene-bearing pegmatite dykes have been discovered to date by drilling Mobile Metal Ions (MMI) soil geochemical anomalies. This includes a new high-grade discovery at the D8 dyke, which now has a strike length of at least 90 m, with down dip intersections of 100 m and true thickness of up to 15m and open in all directions. Numerous MMI anomalies remain untested and only one-third of the property has been explored.
Light green to white spodumene mineralization occurs within laterally and vertically extensive pegmatite dykes hosted by mafic volcanic rocks and felsic sedimentary rocks indicating there are no preferred host rocks for the dykes The spodumene-bearing pegmatite dykes on the property strike northwest with steep dips and crosscut the regional foliation at a low angle. They are up to 800 m in length and 40 m in drill intersection. The dykes tend to be concentric in internal structure and constituent minerals include potassium feldspar, quartz, spodumene and black tourmaline. Future programs will focus on prospecting the 2000 hectares that have yet to be explored followed by soil geochemical surveys and diamond drilling. Prospecting will be aided by mechanical stripping where necessary.
You can read about the Mineralogical Characterization and Preliminary Beneficiation of the Zoro Lithium Project here or below (known as Company’s previous name Far Resources):
Mineral Development in Manitoba
Zoro is well situated in Manitoba with the potential for development. Manitoba is home to the world-class Tanco lithium-cesium-rare metal pegmatite at Bernic Lake. This mining-friendly province has a supportive, pro-business climate, mineral exploration assistance programs, and excellent access to geoscience and exploration data that will assist the company to advance its projects.
Additionally, the province has stable and well-developed mining and transportation infrastructure. The hydro line to Snow Lake is 5 km south of the property and the small historic gold mining community of Herb Lake is located about 10 km southwest of the property. A railway line is located at Wekusko, approximately 20 km south of Herb Lake. Electricity rates in Manitoba are reasonably priced and comparable to Québec.
Tantalum + Niobium — Increasing the potential value of Zoro
A high-grade drill intercept of tantalum (0.117 % Ta2O5 or 927 ppm tantalum; see November 1, 2017 news release accompanied by elevated tantalum and niobium in samples of drill core, outcrop and soils has provided a value-added component to the lithium mineralization.
Currently, the significance of the elevated tantalum and niobium is unknown, but it will be closely assessed as Foremost Lithium’s exploration continues.
Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-gray, corrosion-resistant metal that is widely used as a minor component in alloys. Tantalum is inert, making it a valuable substance for sensitive laboratory equipment and a substitute to platinum.
Tantalum exists alongside niobium, a chemically similar metal, which is also valuable. It is mainly used in alloys and is the largest metal in special steel, often used in gas pipelines. The stability of niobium-containing super alloys at high temperatures makes such alloys an important component in jet and rocket engines. Niobium is also used in various superconducting materials including the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. Other applications of niobium include welding, nuclear industries, electronics, optics, numismatics, and jewelry.
You can't have electric cars without batteries, and you can't have batteries without lithium. As global demand for electric vehicles grows, North America automotive manufactures are seeking to regionalize their supply chain for security and sustainability and lithium producers are going to be at a premium as they search for consistent suppliers. The renewable energy sector “metals-rich” green infrastructure is likely to spur private sector investment and will further boost the lithium market. Foremost Lithium’s Zoro Property is focused on expanding exploration and proving up high-grade lithium to address the current and future lithium battery demand.