AZoMining speaks to Philip Gross, CEO of Snow Lake Lithium, about the development of the world's first electric lithium mine. This is a particularly important development within mining and highlights the significance of accelerating green mining across the world.
Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your company, Snow Lake Lithium?
I am Philip Gross, CEO of Snow Lake Lithium. Snow Lake Lithium is creating the world’s first electric Lithium mine operated by renewable power. Our ambition is to become the first fully integrated, carbon-neutral lithium provider to the North American electric vehicle market.
How important is lithium for the development of electric vehicles?
Lithium is incredibly important for the development of electric vehicles. With demand for electric vehicles growing rapidly, the global automotive and energy storage industries will be competing to access raw materials, especially lithium, that are a crucial component of lithium-ion batteries. Whilst there is a good supply of lithium in many places worldwide, ‘mineable’ lithium is not in great supply and naturally, this is where Snow Lake Lithium is able to help.
How does the demand for electric vehicles impact the growing need to electrify lithium mines?
North American automotive manufacturers have committed manufacturing capacity to meet the demand for electric vehicles, but the future of the North American automotive industry relies on sourcing lithium hydroxide on the continent rather than importing it from China and Asia, as well as creating an integrated domestic supply chain. Having green credentials is no longer a luxury, especially when you are providing raw material to an industry dedicated to the promotion of clean energy.
Can you tell us about Snow Lake Lithium’s all-electric lithium mine?
Based in Snow Lake, Northern Manitoba (Canada), our 55,000-acre site is expected to produce 160,000 tons of 6% lithium spodumene a year, over a 10-year period. Currently, we have explored around 1% of the site and are confident that this will expand over the course of the next year. The mine will be operated by almost 100% renewable, hydroelectric power to ensure the most sustainable manufacturing approach.
How will this all-electric lithium mine help accelerate North America’s electrified future?
With Snow Lake Lithium, all automakers in the United States can benefit from the world’s first fully-electric lithium mine:
- Sourcing lithium from Canada, reducing the delays in production and transportation of materials and batteries across the globe
- A significantly reduced carbon footprint for every business, helping them to lower their national and global emissions output
- Supporting the North American economy with investment and highly skilled jobs
- Utilizing a mine well located in the North American “Auto Alley” ensures automakers have easy access to the source, whilst also reducing transportation costs and supply chain emissions
What technology will be used in the mine?
Snow Lake Lithium has partnered with Manitoba Hydro, one of Canada’s largest integrated electricity and natural gas distribution utilities, to produce over 97% of electricity at the mine using hydroelectric renewable.
Our other leading partner, Meglab, is a leading innovator in mining technology, providing power solutions for sustainable development, including the use of electric-powered mining equipment.
Why is it important to develop a seamless lithium supply chain?
It is important to develop a seamless lithium supply chain because we are facing a once-in-a-century industrial pivot, as North America accelerates towards an electrified future. If we don’t act now to secure a seamless lithium supply chain from rock to road, the North American car industry will not exist in 10 years’ time.
To enable the seamless integration of the supply chain, Snow Lake Lithium plans to establish a joint venture to create a lithium hydroxide processing plant and is seeking a partnership with an automotive OEM or a battery manufacturer to deliver this.
How will this all-electric lithium mine directly impact the region?
Snow Lake Lithium is in the perfect place, at the perfect time, with the perfect resource. We have access to Northern Manitoba’s hydroelectric fully renewable energy supply. We also have access to a railway line, giving us direct access to the entire North American market in a matter of days, not months. Most importantly, we are in a country with the friendliest mining jurisdiction in the world and in a province that has over a century of a proud mining legacy. All the talent we require and all the supporting infrastructure necessary can be found right in Manitoba.
Is there a potential for all lithium mines to be fully electric in the future? What challenges would be faced and how could they be tackled in order to achieve this?
Whilst I can speak for Snow Lake Lithium and say for sure that we will be fully electric, it is hard to say for other mines in the future. There is obviously a potential, but it relies on mines having a sustainable and renewable power source for the operation, including the equipment used to excavate the lithium. We are lucky in that we have a fantastic hydroelectric fully renewable energy supply, but others are not so fortunate to have this at their disposal. Some mines could use wind or solar as an alternative, but that requires land space to generate enough power. In any case, with countries having global emissions targets to hit and auto manufacturers looking to minimize their carbon footprint every year, especially in the supply chain, lithium mines in the future will need to adapt accordingly.
What are the next steps for the project?
We have just initiated the metallurgical analysis, the drone survey of the entire property, and the baseline environmental permitting studies and feasibility studies. We are halfway through the drill program of 10,000 m and are likely to increase this amount beyond 10,000 m.
After the next 12 months, we aim to complete our feasibility studies and finalize the LiOH offtake agreements. We will explore strategic partnerships and secure project financing, then build a project execution team.
Where can readers find more information?
You can find more information about Snow Lake Lithium on our website: www.snowlakelithium.com
You can also find regular updates from us on our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/snow-lake-resources/
About Philip Gross
With more than two decades of experience advising resources and mining operations, I have covered everything from base metals and precious metals to hydrocarbons and agriculture. I have led a number of metals and mining investment firms and have spent a large portion of my career developing mining investments as an investor, CEO, Exec Director, and non-Exec Director for both public and private ventures across the globe, with a particular focus in North America, Europe, and Australasia.
Now as CEO of Snow Lake Lithium, our ambition is to become the first fully integrated, carbon-neutral lithium provider to the North American electric vehicle market.
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