Critical Elements Lithium Corporation's (TSXV:CRE,OTCQX:CRECF,FWB:F12) vision is to be a large, responsible supplier of lithium hydroxide to the emerging electric vehicle and energy storage industries. The company is well-positioned, wholly owning over 850 km² of prospective lands hosting one of the highest purity spodumene deposits globally. This deposit is in Quebec, one of the company's premier mining investment jurisdictions. The company aspires to achieve its goals with a minimal environmental footprint by drawing electricity from Quebec's established low-carbon power grid and in cooperation with the Cree Nation communities, with whom relationships have been formalized.
The Rose lithium-tantalum deposit, a high-purity lithium deposit, can supply multiple lithium markets because of its unique purity with low iron oxide and mica content. The Rose lithium-tantalum deposit has an updated NI 43-101 resource estimate that outlines an indicated resource of 31.9 million tonnes grading 1.04 percent lithium oxide equivalent or 0.93 percent lithium oxide and 148 ppm of tantalum pentoxide, with an inferred resource of 2.8 million tonnes grading 0.92 percent lithium oxide equivalent or 0.82 percent lithium oxide and 145 ppm of tantalum pentoxide. Positive feasibility study also showed 17 years of mine life with an average production of 173,317 tonnes of chemical grade 5.5 percent spodumene concentrate; 51,369 tonnes of technical grade 6.0 percent spodumene concentrate; and 441 tonnes of tantalum concentrate from year two up to year 16.
Following a positive feasibility study for spodumene mining and concentration, Critical Elements Lithium Corporation is now ready to advance to the next stage of development for Rose. The feasibility study was, in part, informed by the results of a bulk sampling and pilot plant study. The results demonstrated that the conversion of the resources from the Rose lithium-tantalum deposit into the spodumene crystalline phase is easily achievable, with lithium concentrate grades up to 6.56 percent.
Most recent testing at the Rose lithium-tantalum pilot plant has resulted in the production of battery-quality lithium hydroxide. Critical Elements was able to demonstrate that its plant can achieve extraction rates of 93 percent, which is higher than the market benchmark of 70 percent to 75 percent. The plant's overall recovery rate from spodumene to battery-quality lithium hydroxide is 80 percent, which is again higher than the market benchmark of 65 percent.
Tantalum is used in a wide variety of applications across the electronics, medicine, engineering and energy-generation industries. Since 1995, the market for tantalum has experienced average yearly growth in demand of about 8 to 12 percent. End users are facing increasing market pressure to secure conflict-free sources of tantalum, further tightening global supply.
Critical Elements Lithium Corporation is focused on developing supply for these markets at its Rose lithium-tantalum project. The unique geological properties of this deposit give it the potential to supply multiple markets, including battery-grade materials, ceramics, glass and tantalum. Its 2022-2023 exploration program involves up to 25,000 meters
of diamond drilling, which includes 10,000 meters for the expansion of the Rose Lithium-Tantalum deposit, 7,000 meters to delineate an initial mineral resource estimate at the Lemare Lithium project, and 8,000 meters to explore for and test new targets identified.
- Rose is one of the highest purity hard rock spodumene deposits with low iron and mica content, and is expected to produce battery-quality lithium hydroxide
- The company received the Certificate of Authorization for the Rose Lithium-Tantalum project from the Quebec Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parcs.
- The company also received an approval of rehabilitation and restoration plan for Rose from Quebec Minister of Energy and Natural Resources
- Critical Elements announced a positive feasibility study for the Rose Lithium Project Generating an after-tax NPV of US$1,915 million (at an 8 percent discount rate) and an after-tax IRR of 82.4 percent
- An aggressive exploration program of up to 25,000 meters consists of 10,000 meters for the expansion of the Rose Lithium-Tantalum deposit, a well-positioned, wholly owning over 850 km² of prospective lands hosting one of the highest purity spodumene deposits globally.
- The Rose Lithium Project is located in a premier mining jurisdiction in Quebec, with access to a power line on site tapping into the province’s low carbon – 93 percent hydroelectricity – and low-cost grid.
- Completion of an engineering study for a lithium hydroxide monohydrate plant based on a yearly production of 30,670 tonnes of high-quality battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from 220,587 tonnes of spodumene concentrate.
Rose Lithium-Tantalum Project
The Rose lithium-tantalum project is located in the James Bay area of Quebec, Canada, about 35 kilometres north of Nemiscau and 75 kilometres due south of Newmont Corporation's (NYSE:NEM) Eleonore gold deposit. Excellent infrastructure is in place locally and regionally, including a 100-ton capacity road access, an airport, and a power line directly on the project property.
Rose is located in the Quebec Plan Nord designated area, where the government is fast-tracking the construction of new infrastructure, accelerating permitting and assisting with project financing. The project covers about 245 square miles of active mining titles in the northeastern part of the Archean Superior Province of the Canadian Shield craton and within the southern portion of the Middle and Lower Eastmain greenstone belt.
The Rose deposit has an updated NI 43-101 outlining an indicated resource of 31.9 million tonnes grading 1.04 percent lithium oxide equivalent or 0.93 percent lithium oxide and 148 ppm of tantalum pentoxide with an inferred resource of 2.8 million tonnes grading 0.92 percent lithium oxide equivalent or 0.82 percent lithium oxide and 145 ppm of tantalum pentoxide.
On June 13, 2022, the company announced the results of a new feasibility study on the Rose Lithium-Tantalum project in Eeyou-Istchee – James Bay, Québec, which includes after-tax NPV of US$1.915 million at 8 percent discount rate, and after-tax IRR of 82.4 percent. Highlights of the feasibility study include:
Critical Elements consistently advances the Rose Lithium-Tantalum Project in a low-risk manner. The new feasibility study incorporates a standard truck and shovel open-pit mining operation and conventional lithium processing technologies. The project is expected to produce technical grade spodumene concentrate for the glass and ceramics industry and chemical grade spodumene concentrate for conversion for use in batteries for e-mobility, as well as a tantalite concentrate.
Excellent recoveries and battery-grade purity
Intensive metallurgical testing and flowsheet optimization work have shown that Critical Elements Lithium Corporation's Rose lithium-tantalum project demonstrates a significant advantage over other known lithium deposits based on its ability to produce premium-purity lithium carbonate at a low cost.
During flotation testing, recoveries reached up to 91.9 percent lithium with a concentration grade of 6.43 percent lithium; recoveries averaged 90.88 percent with a concentration grade of 6.2 percent lithium.
In April 2017, Critical Elements Lithium Corporation announced the successful completion of its pilot work with results in spodumene concentrates grading up to 6.56 percent lithium. From Rose, recovery rates averaged 83.4 percent with a concentrate grade of 6.41 percent, and from Rose South, recovery rates averaged 81.9 percent with a concentrate grade of 6.56 percent.
In May 2022, Critical Elements Lithium announced results from a recently completed pilot test program at the Metso Outotec Research Center, successfully converting spodumene concentrate from the Rose Project into battery-grade lithium hydroxide using a thermal leaching process.
The pilot plant conversion process from spodumene concentrate to lithium hydroxide was further optimized and confirmed the previous strong results with extraction and conversion rates of 92 percent. In addition, the pilot plant produced battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
The two critical steps of the process to recover the lithium from spodumene are the conversion from alpha spodumene to beta spodumene where the piloting work achieved 98 percent conversion rate and the separation of the lithium hydroxide from the calcined spodumene by soda-leaching (98 percent efficiency) and conversion to lithium hydroxide (96 percent efficiency).
- Battery-grade lithium hydroxide with a further improved quality profile
- High spodumene alpha/beta conversion / leaching / conversion rates of combined 92 percent
- Efficiency for the calcination 98 percent
- Efficiency for the soda-leaching 98 percent
- Efficiency for the lithium hydroxide conversion 96 percent
Successful results using a thermal leaching process demonstrate that Critical Elements can deliver a battery-grade lithium hydroxide to the electric vehicle market. Additional tests may need to be conducted by the Corporation in order to meet customer specific requirements.
To date, Critical Elements has completed the following testing and piloting work:
Tantalum by-product more economical than potash
The Rose lithium-tantalum deposit, however, possesses a unique combination of tantalum and lithium mineralization. The tantalum found in the Rose lithium-tantalum deposit gives the project additional by-product diversification and makes it one of the few economic, conflict-free, industrial-scale tantalum sources in the world.
Jean-Sébastien Lavallée - Chief Executive Officer and Director
Jean-Sébastien Lavallée, P. Geo., has been the chief executive officer of Critical Elements Lithium Corporation since 2009. From 2009 to 2017, he also served as president. Lavallée has been active in mining exploration since 1994. He was president and chief executive officer of Quebec Precious Metals Corporation (TSXV:QPM) from 2012 to May 2017, then vice-president of exploration in this company up to 2020.
Lavallée has been on the Board of Directors of the Quebec Mineral Exploration Association “AEMQ" from 2017 to 2019, and he is also working with Consul-Teck Exploration Minière Inc., a Val-d'Or based consulting firm. Most of the firm's mandates involve the generation and execution of projects in remote areas. Lavallée has acted as a geologist for many companies, including Eloro Resources Ltd., Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., Noranda Minerals Inc. and Champion Minerals Inc. Having been responsible for the planning and execution of many exploration programs in recent years, Mr. Lavallée has acquired solid experience in exploration project development.
Dr. Steffen Haber – President and Director
Dr. Steffen Haber is the president of Critical Elements Lithium Corporation since January 2017. He was president and chief executive Officer of Rockwood Lithium GmbH when Chemetall GmbH was legally split off in 2012. From 2011 to 2012, he was Managing Director of Chemetall and since 2007 President of Chemetall's lithium business. Prior to joining Chemetall GmbH, Dr. Haber worked in different executive positions for Sanofi-Aventis SA and its predecessor companies in France. Dr. Haber completed his doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, in 1991, and added one year as a Post-Doc at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. In 1997, Dr. Haber earned his Bachelor of Science in Management from the International School of Management in San Diego in the United States. Dr. Haber is a fellow of the International Directors Program of INSEAD.
Nathalie Laurin - Secretary and Chief Financial Officer
Nathalie Laurin has over 30 years of experience in administration and accounting. The experience gained through working in various roles with increasing responsibilities, primarily in the natural resources sector, has given her a solid mastery of finance and project management. Since 2006, she has acted as corporate secretary and/or chief financial officer for several companies, most notably mineral exploration companies, including Critical Elements Lithium Corporation, Delta Resources Limited, MPV Exploration Inc., Quebec Precious Metals Corporation and BlackRock Metals.
Marcus Brune - VP Finance and Director
Dr. Marcus Brune was Chief Financial Officer of Rockwood Lithium from 2011 until the acquisition by Albemarle in 2015. He left Albemarle in 2016 once the lithium business was successfully integrated into Albemarle's organizational structure. Prior to joining Rockwood Lithium, Dr. Brune had worked in different executive positions in corporate finance and M&A for Rockwood Holdings and its predecessor companies since 2004. Prior to that, he was with McKinsey as a strategy consultant for organizational development and management. Dr. Brune completed his doctorate in material sciences at the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, after earning a physics degree.
Yves Perron - VP of Engineering, Construction and Reliability
Yves Perron, brings extensive experience in the mining sector, engineering and construction in Québec to the Corporation. He was appointed vice-president of engineering and construction by Stornoway Diamond in June 2012 and vice-president, Engineering and Construction for Mason Graphite in August 2018. Perron has served as vice-president of engineering and construction for Loop Industries since January 2021. He has over 25 years of experience in project management in the industrial sector within major international firms. Prior to joining Stornoway, Perron was vice-president, business development and project manager at Delsaer and Seneca. He also held several management positions in areas of production, operation start-ups, maintenance, engineering and project management with ArcelorMittal and Xstrata. Perron holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Université du Québec - École de Technologie Supérieure in Montréal and a DEC in civil engineering technology. In addition, he holds an MBA from Université du Québec in Montréal as well as an executive MBA from Université Paris Dauphine.
Board of Directors
Eric Zaunscherb – Chairman and Independent Director
Eric Zaunscherb is a Canadian geologist with over 32 years and six cycles of experience as a mining analyst. He most recently served as Managing Director, Research – Metals & Mining Analyst at Canaccord Genuity where he coordinated the firm's global mining equity research team. He has enjoyed working in Toronto, Vancouver and London, experiencing best practices in Capital Markets at several leading firms and conducting hundreds of exploration, development and mining project site visits globally. He embraces new technologies and industry initiatives in diversity and socially responsible investing, ensuring that local communities receive lasting benefits from mineral resource development.
Marc Simpson - Independent Director
Marc Simpson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Vanadian Energy Corp. Simpson has worked in the mining and exploration industry for over 23 years, working for junior, mid-tier and senior mining companies on projects both in Canada and worldwide, including Bema Gold (sold to Kinross for C$3.5 billion in 2007), B2Gold and Echo Bay Mines. Mr. Simpson has been involved in exploration and mining projects from grassroots exploration through to mine development and production. Mr. Simpson obtained his B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Manitoba and is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of Manitoba.
Matthew Lauriston Starnes - Independent Director
Matthew Lauriston Starnes is a lawyer with over 22 years of experience. Starnes is currently a Peerpoint lawyer with Allen & Overy in Tokyo specializing in mining law. Prior to this, he was legal counsel in Sumitomo Corporation's Mineral Resources Division in Tokyo, Japan. Among other things, he was responsible for legal aspects of Sumitomo's investment in the Sierra Gorda copper project in Chile and was also part of the team for the Ambatovy project in Madagascar. Prior to joining Sumitomo, he also was the General Counsel and Deputy CEO for the Ambatovy project. Starnes has also practiced as a corporate lawyer with major law firms in Montreal.
Maysa Habelrih - Independent Director
Maysa Habelrih is a result-oriented executive and board director leveraging global experience and a track record of delivering operational excellence and transforming business objectives into bottom line growth within complex environments. She has expertise in international joint ventures management and board oversight with solid knowledge of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) business practices. Over the past year, Maysa has been the CEO of Mouvement Québécois de la Qualité, a non-profit focused on increasing the competitiveness and productivity of Quebec organizations. From 1989 to 2019, she worked for Alcan, which became Rio Tinto Aluminium in 2007. Maysa ended as general manager / Vice-President Joint Ventures with full governance and fiscal accountability for nine joint venture operations globally, featuring $2 billion in revenues, $400 million in EBITDA and 1,900 direct and indirect employees. This included the oversight of the successful design and implementation of an $850 million mine expansion project in Guinea. Maysa holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from McGill University in Montréal, as well as an international masters program in practicing management (IMPM), which is offered in partnership with INSEAD, McGill University, and 3 other universities.
Vanessa Laplante - Independent Director
Vanessa Laplante has more than 30 years of experience in finance and taxation, including 16 years in the mining industry. She is a leader in her field of specialization, mining taxation, which has allowed her to be recognized as Chair of the Tax Committee of the Association Minière du Québec since 2011, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association Minière du Québec since June 2021. Since 2014, Laplante is the Tax and Montreal office Director, as well as treasurer, for Canadian Malartic Partnership, a joint venture between Agnico Eagle Mines Limited and Yamana Gold Inc., which operates Canada's largest open pit gold mine. From 2019 to 2020, she was a board member and Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee of Nemaska Lithium Inc. As part of her functions at Osisko Mining Corporation from 2010 to 2014, she was a member of the Audit Committee. From 2015 to 2019 Vanessa was a member of the advisory committee on the simplification of the mining royalty regime, formed by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Québec. Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Sherbrooke (1991) and is a Member of the Order of Chartered Professional Accountants of Quebec (CPA).
Ani Markova - Independent Director
Ani Markova is a senior executive and an award-winning portfolio manager with more than 15 years of experience investing in the mining and metals industry. She is currently a corporate director with Golden Star Resources and SilverCrest Mining. She is the Chair of the Safety, Environmental and Social Sustainability Committee at SilverCrest and a member of the Corporate Responsibility Committee at Golden Star. She also sits on their Audit and Governance and Compensation committees. She is the Founder and CEO of Investor View Advisory, which is engaged with public companies on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting and integration. Mrs. Markova holds an MBA from George Washington University in Washington DC, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Canadian Investment Management (CIM), and Corporate Board International (CDI.D) designations.