"While everyone recognizes the need for lithium in re-chargeable battery technology, few investors are aware that lithium is often the key ingredient in innovative, new high-strength glass and ceramic products, such as display screens. For these applications, the high purity (but very rare) lithium mineral petalite is often preferred. Separation Rapids represents one of the few significant potential new sources of supply in the world."
Can you introduce Avalon Advanced Materials and describe the company’s focus?
Avalon Advanced Materials is a mineral development company focused on rare metals and critical minerals for use in clean energy and new technology, such as rare earths, lithium, tantalum, cesium, indium and tin. We were one of the early movers in the space as we saw a bright future for these elements when new technologies started to create new demand. Governments are now recognizing the need to create critical minerals supply chains outside of China. We have all of these minerals in the ground in Canada and the time has come for us to take advantage of the opportunity by extracting these minerals and creating the value-added in Canada.
What are the main projects Avalon is focusing on?
We have five critical minerals projects in Canada, including three in Ontario: the Separation Rapids Lithium, Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum-Lithium and Warren Township Anorthosite projects are all in Northern Ontario. Avalon’s other projects include the Nechalacho Rare Earths project in the Northwest Territories and the East Kemptville Tin-Indium project in Nova Scotia, as well as a new project, Will Scarlett, in the US looking at extracting rare earths from coal mine wastes.
What are your priorities in Ontario?
Separation Rapids Lithium remains our top priority in Ontario, although we are in the process of re-activating our Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum-Lithium project. The Warren Township Anorthosite project remains inactive while we await new market opportunities.
At Separation Rapids, Avalon has an interesting opportunity to produce a high purity lithium mineral product for the glass and ceramics industry. While everyone recognizes the need for lithium in re-chargeable battery technology, few investors are aware that lithium is often the key ingredient in innovative, new high-strength glass and ceramic products, such as display screens. For these applications, the high purity (but very rare) lithium mineral petalite is often preferred. Separation Rapids represents one of the few significant potential new sources of supply in the world.
Can you explain the development model Avalon is looking at for East Kemptville?
At East Kemptville in Nova Scotia, Avalon is looking at the potential to efficiently extract tin from previously-mined waste materials using new low-impact ore-sorting technology. The model also involves some select mining of higher grade fresh ore that will be used to create a clean tailing cover for the stacked tailings and fully remediate the long term acid mine drainage environmental liability at the site.
What potential do you see in the Will Scarlett REE project in southern Illinois?
Will Scarlett represents an exciting opportunity to participate in implementation of an innovative, new extraction technology to recover rare earths from coal mine wastes. We see the potential to create a new supply chain in the United States by taking advantage of the fact that there are many coal mines that have elevated concentrations of rare earths in wastes and acid mine drainage.
Avalon was named among Corporate Knights’ “future 40 responsible corporate leaders in Canada”. To what do you attribute to this recognition?
For eight years, we have produced an annual sustainability report that meets the Global Reporting Initiative’s standards, and this attracted the attention of Corporate Knights.
Avalon is a leader among junior miners in adopting best practices to reduce its environmental footprint, prevent water contamination and engage with local communities. Acting sustainably creates company value by reducing risk for all stakeholders and by optimizing opportunities for individual and community prosperity. Many critical minerals are vital enablers of clean technology, such as renewable energy sources and energy-efficient automobiles. As a mineral development company focused on critical minerals, it is a strategic advantage for us to integrate principles of sustainability into our corporate strategy in order to align with cleantech customers, who audit their supply chains to ensure they are sustainably produced.
How can governments be proactive towards establishing critical minerals supply chains?
In 2019, the United States and Canada agreed to collaborate in the effort to establish domestic supply chains. I believe that the area where the government can be most helpful is in facilitating the R&D of the process technology needed to extract critical minerals and establishing demonstration scale pilot plant facilities to support new producers’ development plans.