Company hoping to further explore graphite deposit near Thompson waiting more than a year for permit

A potentially rich deposit of a substance that could have applications in semiconductor, battery and composite production has been going unexplored for more than a year as the company that wants to conduct exploratory drilling has been waiting for a permit from the Manitoba government.

Global Li-Ion Graphite Corp. said in January 2018 that it had initiated permitting to compete confirmation and exploration drilling on the Neuron Graphite Project southwest of Thompson.

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But nearly 18 months later, the company has yet to receive a response from the provincial government – negative or positive – and that has one of the company’s board members mystified.

“I don’t know why we can’t get a work permit,” said Mike Muzylowski. “It’ll benefit the province of Manitoba to such a great extent because ... there is more than just one graphene deposit. They’re not saying yes but they’re not saying no either. We’re in limbo.”

“The Manitoba government continues to work with the applicant and the First Nation to move the application forward,” said a Growth, Enterprise and Trade department spokesperson. “With the recent announcement of the Manitoba-First Nations Mineral Development Protocol, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is now actively engaged with the province and a meeting has been scheduled in the near future to move forward with the consultation process for any outstanding permit decisions in the First Nation’s traditional use area, including Global Li-Ion Graphite Corp.”

The Manitoba-First Nations Mineral development Protocol was released at the end of May and intends to help mining companies and First Nations agree upon consultation processes for all phases of mineral development from grassroots exploration to mine development. Half-a-million dollars has been set aside by the province to support First Nations in the development and implementation of agreements. The province has also established a liaison committee on mining and exploration to support the development of such agreements and advise the government on issues concerning mining and mineral exploration in Manitoba.

Muzylowski, a member of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame who discovered multiple producing mines in Manitoba and elsewhere when he worked for Hudbay and other companies, joined Global Li-Ion Graphite Corp.’s board in 2018 but he is familiar with the graphite deposit. In the fall of 2017, Global Li-Ion optioned the Neuron Graphite Project from Callinex Mines, which conducted winter drilling in 2014 that intersected nearly 80 metres of graphite mineralization at the Neuron property. Muzylowski, 84, retired as Callniex’s chairman June 3.

Callinex acquired the Neuron property by staking it in 2013, but Muzylowski was aware of its existence long before then, having discovered the deposit on an unrelated exploration trip in 1965.

He didn’t have a great interest in it until decades later, when more uses were developed for graphene, a component of graphite that is hundreds of times stronger than steel and can be used in the production of lithium ion batteries.

“I think we have something like five deposits along probably a 30-kilometre stretch and then it runs into some claims there near Thompson owned by Vale,” says Muzylowski, who says he hopes progress on further exploration can be made before it’s too late for him to see it.

“I’d sure like to see a test before I pass on to the great yonder,” he said.

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