Two Canadian mining companies are hopeful Thunder Bay could become a regional lithium processing hub.
Avalon Advanced Materials of Toronto,and Rock Tech Lithium of Vancouver have signed a letter of intent to work together to develop the facility, which would produce lithium sulphate, which is used in the production of lithium-ion batteries.
“Now that there’s all this new interest in establishing these lithium battery material supply chains, and the manufacturing capacity here in Ontario for electric vehicles, opportunity is obviously knocking to be able to get that supply chain started,” said Don Bubar, president and CEO of Avalon.
Bubar said there are several potential sites for the facility along Thunder Bay’s waterfront.
“The main thing is being close to the rail links, and the port,” he said. “We’ll probably want to be able to ship by the St. Lawrence Seaway. Rock Tech have relationships in Europe that they’ll want to be able to serve with the product.”
“Sites that we’ve looked at have plenty of space for the footprint that we would have there, at least initially.”
Bubar said while the facility would process material from an Avalon lithium mine near Kenora, and a Rock Tech lithium mine near Beardmore, the hope is it would eventually become a regional hub that could also process material from other producers.
“The opportunity is a big one for northern Ontario,” he said. “There’s at least 100 similar lithium hard rock deposits in northwestern Ontario that are known already.”
Bubar said the hope is construction on the processing facility could start as early as next year.