Canada’s lithium rush has been on everyone’s radar these past couple of years, especially when WA’s Galaxy Resources (which became Allkem and is now Arcadium Lithium (ASX:LTM) after merging with US giant Livent Corp) first picked up from the hard rock lithium success of Mt Cattlin to try its luck in Quebec.

That merged entity is now worth US$5.2 billion and has operating mines in Australia, North America and South America. In comparison, that’s the same price as about 82 billion stacked bananas.

Away from Quebec and its prolific James Bay and Abitibi lithium precincts, ASX juniors looking for the next big break have shuffled into neighbouring Ontario.

More hard rock lithium deposits are being discovered and proven up in the province by the likes of Green Technology Metals (ASX:GT1), Pioneer Lithium (ASX:PLN), Critical Resources (ASX:CRR) and Patriot Lithium (ASX:PAT) – just to name a few.

Instead of stacked bananas, these explorers are hunting for stacked pegmatites – geological formations that contain lithium-caesium-tantalum (LCT) mineralisation – and, if you find enough of them, you’ve likely got yourself a lithium project worthy of development.

Yet it’s the fairly large yet little-known province of Manitoba that has intrepid explorers pouring in – as it’s largely underexplored for critical minerals such as lithium.


The rush on Manitoba

Speaking with Stockhead, Leeuwin Metals (ASX:LM1) MD Chris Piggott says Manitoba, west of Ontario, has ready-built infrastructure and a long history of mining in the region – yet is vastly underexplored for lithium deposits.

“Besides the world-class and long-running Tanco LCT mining operation, which is actually heavier on the caesium production side, Manitoba has traditionally been known for gold, copper and especially nickel deposits,” Piggott says.

“The province is so well-positioned with a mining pedigree and historically well-mapped geological surveying; and because of Tanco – which has been operating for >50 years – the University of Manitoba has a long history of research into pegmatites too.

“So from that point of view you realise that to get a project off the ground there’s already quality infrastructure in place and a skilled labour force at the ready that really know what they’re doing.”

Great reasons, Piggott says, to have obtained its Cross Lake project which presents itself as a large-scale mining opportunity; with mapped and stacked pegmatites discovered across a 4.7km trend at the Spodumene Island and Metis Island prospect areas.

Maiden fieldwork has uncovered up to 4.31% Li2O at the targets which bode well for a planned 10,000m drill program due to kick off this year.

“Broadly, Canada as a jurisdiction is improving the regulatory environment and streamlining approvals and Manitoba has all the bases covered to commit to exploration for its untapped critical minerals endowment,” Piggott says.

Here’s another kicker – Manitoba qualifies as compliant with the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act and Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy, mechanisms that streamline and subsidise clean energy projects and provide tax incentives for resources projects.

Others such as Burley Minerals (ASX:BUR) ) will also see a trickle-down effect by finding it easier to get exploration and development measures off the ground for projects – especially since it bought five lithium projects in Manitoba from Aurora Lithium late last year and just last month snapped up three more licenses to up its landholding in the province to 1,100km2.

A further two licence applications for the Oxford (90km2) and Paul Lake South (340km2) tenements are still progressing.

Koba Resources (ASX:KOB) recently unwrapped a set of stacked pegmatites at the Blue Moon prospect, part of its Whitlock project – just 8km from Tanco, while Native Mineral Resources (ASX:NMR) has a pipeline of activity planned at its McLaughlin Lake lithium project.


Whoelse is out and aboot?

Manitba has a long history of nickel production too. In December last year Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) decided to foray into Manitoba with an option agreement to acquire 100% of the 1.3Mt Wabowdeen nickel project from CaNickel Mining.

Manitoba has a long history of nickel mining and developing Wabowdeen will address a key requirement – providing feedstock into its Ta Khoa refinery in Vietnam.

It’s not BSX’s first entrance into Manitoba, as it has investments into Corazon Mining’s (ASX:CZN) Lynn Lake nickel-copper project and Canadian-listed Flying Nickel’s Minago project.



At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Leeuwin Metals, Burley Minerals and Koba Resources are a Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.