Economy 22-01-2024 13:06 13 Views

Top 8 Canadian Lithium Stocks

2022 was huge for lithium, with the battery metal setting all-time highs for the second year in a row. However, prices for lithium carbonate and hydroxide fell significantly throughout 2023.

The declines in lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices were driven by a mix of factors that have led supply to outpace demand. Decreased consumer spending in China due to an economic downturn kept electric vehicle demand low, and battery manufacturers have cut back large lithium purchases in response.

TSX and TSXV lithium stocks

1. Portofino Resources (TSXV:POR)

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Year-to-date gain: 150 percent; market cap: C$12.94 million; current share price: C$0.075

Portofino Resources is a lithium exploration company operating in Argentina and Canada. In Argentina, the company now wholly owns the Yergo project in Catamarca and just announced a 50/50 partnership with Lithium Chile (TSXV:LITH,OTCQB:LTMCF) for the 8,445 hectare Arizaro Area IV concession in Salta. Its Canadian lithium property is the Allison Lake North project in Northern Ontario, for which it filed a technical report at the beginning of 2023, and it also holds a portfolio of gold properties in the country.

Portofino was in a state of flux coming into 2023. The company was facing a legal dispute at the Yergo project, for which it had an earn-in agreement, after the claim owner and optioner filed a notice of termination in September 2022. Portofino rejected the termination as it claimed it did not breach the agreements and was granted an injunction against the owner the following month as it assessed its options. Additionally, Portofino had been performing due diligence at on concessions at the Arizaro Salar, for which it had a memorandum of understanding with state mining company REMSA, and in February shared that it had filed a joint venture proposal for Arizaro IV.

Its shares began climbing from their opening price of C$0.03 when the company released its 2023 plans on February 1, and moved higher on the completion of a C$735,000 private placement on February 27, reaching an H1 high of C$0.075 on March 3 before falling down to trade around C$0.04 in much of Q2 and early Q3.

However, Portofino’s share price took off in earnest in August following a series of announcements, such as the closing of a C$538,000 financing on August 1 and the creation of an advisory board that includes Alexander Molyneux and Blake Steele on August 4. The biggest jump came from a major update on August 14, when Portofino announced that it was executing its option to buy out its option agreements and acquire 100 percent of the Yergo project.

Its final news for the month came on August 23, when the company announced it submitted proposals for the Arizaro III and IV concessions through a public tender process. Its share price hit a year-to-date high of C$0.10 on August 30 and touched that peak again on September 21 when it closed an upsized C$965,000 financing.

Following the official closing of the Yergo acquisiton on September 26, the company shared on November 1 its pre-drilling exploration plans for the project, including expanded surface and subsurface sampling, which it said it would commence that month. Portofino’s share price ended 2023 at C$0.075.

The company’s only news so far in 2024 was the aforementioned ultimate result of the Arizaro tender: a partnership with Lithium Chile, which had also submitted an offer for the concession. The company brings exploration success and infrastructure from its nearby work to the partnership. The partners are aiming to begin drilling soon and quickly advance the project.

2. Volt Lithium (TSXV:VLT)

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Year-to-date gain: 122.73 percent; market cap: C$29.97 million; current share price: C$0.245

Volt Lithium is focused on becoming a producer of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate from oilfield brines at its Rainbow Lake project in Alberta and from brines across North America using its proprietary direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology. On April 27, the company changed its name from Allied Copper to Volt Lithium, which was previously the name of the company’s lithium division.

The company started 2023 with a share price of C$0.11 and has trended up significantly throughout the year. On April 6, Volt Lithium announced a breakthrough with its DLE technology. The new version, IES-300, maintains IES-200’s 93 percent lithium recoveries and reduces the amount of reagent required, lowering operating costs. The company’s share price spiked significantly on the news and stayed elevated, reaching a year-to-date high of C$0.52 on May 15.

On May 18, Volt Lithium shared its initial mineral resource report for Rainbow Lake, reporting an inferred mineral resource of 4.3 million metric tons (MT) of lithium carbonate equivalent. The property has an estimated 99 billion barrels of brine with concentrations of up to 121 milligrams per liter. A week later, the company released the final results of its DLE pilot project, which included 97 percent lithium recovery from 120 mg/L and 90 percent recovery from concentrations as low as 34 mg/L.

Volt Lithium’s share price fell at the end of May and trended downwards through August, but saw a big upswing in mid-August after the company announced on August 17 it had terminated its option agreements for its two copper assets, finishing its full transition to a pure-play lithium company. It ultimately reached an H2 high of C$0.38 on September 11 following the company appointing director Lt. General Andrew Leslie as the new chair of the board.

On October 24, Volt shared that it has commissioned its permanent demonstration plant, which it says is “capable of testing oilfield brines from multiple basins across North America in real-time.” The permanent plant, which is located in Calgary, Alberta, features improvements on the pilot plant based on nanotech and water processing technology collaborations announced during the summer that allow it to process oilfield brines from across North America.

Its final news of the year came on December 14, when it released the preliminary economic assessment for Rainbow Lake, highlighting an expected operating life of 19 years with annual battery-grade lithium- hydroxide production of 1,000 MT in Phase 1, 5,000 MT in Phase 2 and 23,000 MT in Phase 3. Its share price ended the year at C$0.225.

3. Solis Minerals (TSXV:SLMN)

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Year-to-date gain: 87.5 percent; market cap: C$12.74 million; current share price: C$0.15

Solis Minerals is an exploration company focused on battery metals properties in South America. The company is focused on its Estrela and recently acquired Mina Verhelma lithium projects in the Borborema province in Northeastern Brazil.

Earlier this year, news of its agreement to acquire the Jaguar hard-rock project, which has confirmed spodumene grades of up to 4.95 percent in oxidized pegmatite, resulted in a stratospheric share price jump. Trading was suspended from May 29 to June 8, during which time Solis announced the binding agreement and an AU$8.16 million funding package. When trading resumed, the company’s share price shot up to C$0.65. The first tranche of the placement, totaling AU$3,050,000, was closed on June 19, and the company began drilling at Jaguar on June 23. Its share price reached a 2023 high of C$1.04 on July 4.

However, these highs didn’t last long. The company’s trading was paused again on July 17 pending maiden drill results from Jaguar, and when trading resumed later that morning, its price plummeted by over 50 percent to close at C$0.37. In a September exploration update, Solis stated it was renegotiating its binding agreement for Jaguar to extend the due diligence period so it could better evaluate the project, but in October the company announced the negotiations failed and it had elected to withdraw from Jaguar.

That news was shared as part of its October 12 announcement that it had entered into an option agreement for the Mina Verhelma project, which includes a 12 month due diligence period. Solis began its maiden drilling programs at Estrela and Mina Verhelma in Q4. In its latest update on the exploration, the company’s executive director stated that several target areas contained visible spodumene-bearing pegmatites, and the initial holes at Mina Verhelma contained significant widths.

After the initial run in the middle of the year, Solis’ share price spent much of 2023 trending downwards, and ultimately ended the year at C$0.14.

4. Surge Battery Metals (TSXV:NILI)

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Year-to-date gain: 68.83 percent; market cap: C$109.14 million; current share price: C$0.65

Surge Battery Metals is fully focused on exploring and advancing its flagship Nevada North lithium project in Nevada, US, which hosts a lithium clay deposit.

After trading under C$0.30 through the end of April, Surge’s share price broke through that level in early May, when the company reported positive results from metallurgical test work at Nevada North; it continued upward on the back of announcements regarding several contracts, including deals for hydrological studies and geological surveying.

On June 1, Surge announced a C$7.16 million private placement that included a C$5.36 million strategic investment at C$0.40 per share by American Lithium (TSXV:LI,NASDAQ:AMLI), which now owns 9.7 percent of Surge’s issued and outstanding shares. Surge’s share price hit a Q2 high of C$0.68 on June 7.

July saw Surge double its land position at Nevada North through staking and an earn-in agreement with M3 Metals (TSXV:MT), which owns adjacent claims, to a total of 5,180 hectares. The company began Phase 2 drilling at the project in August, and its share price began moving upward later that month after it announced that the first five drill cores intersected “highly favorable clay horizons.”

Surge’s share price continued its steep climb through September. The company released analytical results for the first drill hole on September 12, which showed that the highest-grade zone ranges from 3,090 to 8,070 parts per million lithium over 80 feet. The following week, the company contracted Kemetco Research to perform end-to-end process testing and trials with the goal of determining and testing the project’s optimum flow sheet. Its share price hit its 2023 high of C$1.51 on September 25.

While it descended from that high in Q4, Surge has continued to release positive news. On October 3, it entered into agreements to purchase 25 percent of the mineral rights to private lands within its project, which closed on December 7. The following month, on November 16, Surge provided an update on its 2023 drilling activities, reporting that results from its sonic drilling extended the mineralized lithium area to at least 3 kilometers by 0.7 kilometers. Five days later, the company announced that it had submitted its exploration plan of operations permit application to the Bureau of Land Management.

Surge released diamond drilling assays on December 5. Diamond drilling can test greater depths than sonic, and it intercepted multiple layers of lithium mineralization deeper than 130 meters from the surface. The higher-grade intervals, including one grading 7,630 parts per million, were found nearer the surface.

The company’s final news of 2023 came on December 12, when it announced further mineral processing test work, which will cover the full extractive process and produce lithium carbonate. Its share price, which hit a quarterly low of C$0.47 on November 30, saw a rebound following the news and ended the year at C$0.79.

Surge shared its plans for 2024 in a January shareholder update, some of which are the completion of its maiden mineral resource estimate and test work in Q1, a 2024 drill program and the release of a preliminary economic assessment. On January 9, the company released its final 2023 diamond drilling results, which will be used for the MRE.

5. Patriot Battery Metals (TSXV:PMET)

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Year-to-date gain: 67.57 percent; market cap: C$1.16 million; current share price: C$9.92

Patriot Battery Metals is an exploration and development company that is focused primarily on advancing its CV5 and CV13 pegmatites at its Corvette lithium property, which is located in Quebéc’s James Bay-Eeyou Istchee region. In July 2023, the company released its first mineral resource estimate for CV5, which made it “the largest lithium pegmatite mineral resource in the Americas and the 8th largest globally.”

After climbing through January following high-grade assays from 2022 exploration, Patriot’s share price hit a Q1 high of C$17.17 on February 6 when it announced that holes from its 2023 winter drill campaign extended the CV5 pegmatite by at least 400 meters to 2.6 kilometers. As of May 1, a series of further results from the campaign had extended it to 3.7 kilometers.

The company’s share price moved higher through much of May. Wildfires in Quebéc delayed the start of Patriot’s summer/fall exploration work, which included drilling and surface exploration aimed at further delineating the CV5 and C13 pegmatites and testing other pegmatite clusters. The campaign finally began on June 14, and the company’s share price hit a year-to-date high of C$17.53 two days later.

On July 4, Patriot shared that heavy liquid separation testing on core samples from CV13 indicate that a dense media separation process can be used for the pegmatite body. The testing returned spodumene concentrate grades of 6 percent and up with lithium recoveries over 70 percent. The company saw similar results for its CV5 pegmatite in February, and it believes this means material from both can be jointly processed.

On July 30, the company released the aforementioned initial resource estimate for CV5, which included all drill holes from the winter program, with an inferred resource of 109.2 million MT at 1.42 percent lithium oxide. The next day, Patriot announced that Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) was investing in Patriot at a price per share of C$15.29 for a total of approximately C$109 million, much of which would be used to accelerate development of Corvette.

Patriot’s share price trended downwards through Q3 alongside the descending lithium price. The company ramped up drilling and exploration during the quarter, including an initial eight hole drill program at the CV9 pegmatite and work aimed at extending the CV5 and CV13 pegmatites towards each other to test a possible connection.

On September 24, Patriot announced that drilling extended CV5 by 650 meters to the west, bringing it to 4.35 kilometers of continuous strike length and within 3.15 kilometers of CV13. The company released the assays from this drilling and infill drilling on November 12, and revealed the widest mineralized intercept seen at CV5, a 172.4 meter interval grading 0.93 percent lithium oxide. Only 1.8 meters of the interval did not contain pegmatite.

As for CV13, in October Patriot announced it had discovered a new near-surface high-grade zone, with one interval grading 2.86 percent lithium over 8 meters, including 5.03 percent over 4.3 meters. Its vice president of exploration stated that the results support “the interpretation that (CV5 and CV13) share the same ‘plumbing’ system.” Patriot released initial results from its maiden drilling at CV9 on November 22, and it also made a significant discovery, with three drill hole intervals showing spodumene-bearing pegmatites with lengths of 70, 76 and 100 meters.

Patriot announced the completion of its 2023 drill program on December 17, which it said “firmly demonstrated the world class scale of the system at Corvette.” Its share price, which had spent much of Q4 trading between C$9 and C$11, ended the year at C$9.93. Its first news of 2024 was the beginning of the 2024 winter drill campaign, which will include 10 drill rigs and cover at least 45,000 meters of drill core. The company plans to release a maiden mineral resource estimate for CV13 and an updated one for CV5 this year.

CSE lithium stocks

1. Eureka Lithium (CSE:ERKA)

Year-to-date gain: 420 percent; market cap: C$23.13 million; current share price: C$0.52

Eureka Lithium wholly owns 1,408 square kilometers of land prospective for lithium and cesium within the Raglan West, Raglan South and New Leaf lithium camps in Northern Quebéc’s Nunavik region. The properties, which it acquired in April, were staked through research conducted by prospector Shawn Ryan.

Eureka began Phase 1 exploration at the properties on July 6 funded by C$6.6 million in gross proceeds from its private placement closed in June. The exploration was being conducted by a team of LCT pegmatite prospectors equipped with an array of technology to speed discovery. On July 18, the company announced that initial field work at the New Leaf Camp had already encountered more pegmatites than had been previously mapped.

The company’s share price had already rocketed upwards on the acquisition news, and the placement and exploration updates drove it to a 2023 peak of C$1.14 on July 19. Following Phase 1 work at Raglan West and Raglan South, Eureka chose to focus Phase 2 exploration at its Raglan West property, and in October announced it received approval for its initial drill program.

In late December, Eureka announced it had signed a letter of intent to option 100 percent of the Lac La Motte lithium project in Abitibi, Quebéc, which is drill ready and accessible during the winter. The company said that, should it enter into a definitive agreement following its due diligence period, it intends to test target areas in the coming months while Raglan West is inaccessible. Eureka’s share price ended 2023 at C$0.51.

2. Nevada Lithium Resources (CSE:NVLH)

Year-to-date gain: 91.67 percent; market cap: C$47.52 million; current share price: C$0.23

Nevada Lithium spent 2023 exploring and advancing its Bonnie Claire lithium project in Nevada. Previously a 50/50 joint venture with Iconic Minerals (TSXV:ICM), in January 2023 the two companies agreed to an arrangement that would consolidate project ownership under Nevada Lithium, which was completed in July.

In February, the company announced that marketable battery-grade lithium carbonate was successfully produced from Connie Claire’s core material, a key milestone for the company. Its share price climbed through June to a 2023 high of C$0.36 on June 27, a week after Nevada Lithium closed a C$6.2 million financing connected to the arrangement.

To support a prefeasibility study in 2024, the company focused on exploration in the second half of 2023, beginning diamond drilling in September, a seismic reflection survey in October and sonic drilling in November. The first results from diamond drilling extended the project’s high-grade mineralization, and results from its seismic survey identified a new target, a north-south trending fault zone. Nevada Lithium’s share price ended 2023 at C$0.235.

3. Beyond Lithium (CSE:BY)

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Year-to-date gain: 54.05 percent; market cap: C$8.42 million; current share price: C$0.285

Beyond Lithium is a project generator that spent 2023 exploring a substantial portfolio of 63 greenfield lithium projects in Ontario, Canada. Its strategy is to complete Phase 1 exploration at each property, and then from there select which properties to move to Phase 2 exploration. Beyond also optioned the Victory project in October, which contains the Last Resort and Bounty Gold spodumene pegmatites.

Its share price rose substantially in late June and continued climbing to a high of C$0.52 on July 14. Beyond announced on July 18 that it had finished its Phase 1 exploration at 39 of the properties and selected 10 to move forward. As of the end of the first exploration season, those numbers had reached 50 and 18, respectively.

The company released follow up news on multiple significant discoveries at the projects, including a new LCT pegmatite intrusive stock at its Cosgrave Lake project and a new spodumene bearing pegmatite zone that sampled up to 4.54 percent lithium oxide at its Ear Falls project. The successful discovery led the company to expand the Ear Falls project by around 600 percent to over 20,000 hectares.

The company followed up these discoveries with further exploration. In November, Beyond announced results from its grab sampling at Cosgrave Lake indicated the proximity to what could be a higher-grade lithium spodumene zone, and in December, the company shared prelimary results from its stripping and drilling at Ear Falls, which extended the zone it discovered by 50 percent. Additionally, grab samples from its Victory project revealed high-grades of lithium oxide, with those from Last Resort assaying as high as 5.11 percent and from Bounty Gold as high as 3.48 percent.

Beyond applied for exploration permits, including drilling and stripping, for both Victory and Ears Falls on December 22. The company’s share price ended the year at C$0.305. Most recently, it released assays from its drilling at Ear Falls on January 16.

Securities Disclosure: I, Lauren Kelly, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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