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Nipigon lithium companies look to partner for exploration and production

Rock Tech, Imagine Lithium see 'synergies' in teaming up to feed proposed North Shore refinery
(Supplied map)

Some consolidation could be in the cards for two lithium explorers near Lake Nipigon.

Rock Tech Lithium, the promoter of a lithium refinery on the north shore of Lake Superior, has inked a memorandum of understanding with its exploration neighbour, Imagine Lithium, to team up and collectively bring their properties into production. 

That partnership could come in the form of a merger and acquisition arrangement, a commercial partnership, and joint development of their respective projects. 

In a news release this week, the two companies are contemplating working together on a combined land package of 25,000 hectares that contains a significant amount of spodumene-bearing pegmatite host rock. Spodumene is considered the most preferable lithium ore mineral because of its high lithium content.

By partnering, the companies will “explore proximal synergies” that could potentially feed more mined material into a centrally located concentrator and Rock Tech’s proposed lithium refinery in northwestern Ontario. The refinery would make a value-added, battery-grade product for the electric vehicle market. 

Toronto-based Rock Tech operates the Georgia Lake Project, a 5,700-hectare piece of ground, 17 kilometres south of Beardmore and 145 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

There, the company has outlined a 14.8-million lithium resource with an initial mine life of nine years for an open pit and underground operation. Georgia Lake could move to a mine construction phase in 2024, but that start date is dependent on its refinery plans. 

Rock Tech is scouting for a location to place a lithium conversion facility. Red Rock appears to be the frontrunner. 

South of Rock Tech’s claims, Imagine Lithium has been discovering “swarms of mineralized lithium-bearing pegmatite dikes” on its 18,800-hectare Jackpot Project, located 50 kilometres north of the town of Nipigon.

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The Vancouver junior miner's property is 15 kilometres from where Rock Tech wants to place a concentrator mill at Georgia Lake. The two properties are connected by the Gorge Creek Road, which opens up the possibility of cooperating on exploration and sharing infrastructure.

Jackpot already contains two historic resources of untapped lithium oxide of close to 2.7 million tons that needs to be confirmed by drilling. The company expects to publish a first-time lithium resource by the second quarter of 2024.

The area around Lake Nipigon has become is a lithium exploration hot bed but, as of yet, no company has made an investment decision to proceed with mine construction.

In the release, Rock Tech General Manager Robert MacDonald said there’s “enormous” growth potential if the two companies team up and create a “genuine opportunity to transform the region into a leading lithium hub.”

Imagine Lithium President J.C. St-Amour agrees.

"Given the proximity of our projects to each other, collaboration with Rock Tech would only strengthen the potential economics of a standalone development in the Nipigon area, strategically proximal to the downstream opportunities.”