The graphite, lithium and cobalt sectors have all gotten a jolt from Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ:TSLA) decision to build a lithium-ion battery gigafactory, and the good news keeps rolling in for lithium juniors located in Nevada. Western Lithium (TSX:WLC), Lithium Corporation (OTCMKTS:LTUM) and Pure Energy Minerals (TSXV:PE) all saw share price jumps of between 20 and 40 percent on September 3 on suggestions that Tesla's factory would be located in Nevada, and the factory location was confirmed at a press conference in Carson City the next day. However, those gains pale in comparison to the steady rises these three companies have seen since the start of the year. One has climbed over 600 percent, another by 550 percent and the third by an impressive 240 percent. Here, Lithium Investing News takes a look at those companies and what they've been up to since the start of 2014. Western Lithium (TSX:WLC) Focused on developing its Kings Valley lithium-rich clay project in Nevada, Western Lithium has gained roughly 240 percent this year. A prefeasibility study was released for Kings Valley in December 2011, and Western Lithium received environmental approval for the mine in March of this year. In May, the Bureau of Land Management authorized the company to begin mining operations associated with Kings Valley. In tandem with the mine, Western Lithium has been working hard to develop a demonstration plant to showcase the production of lithium carbonate and by-product samples on pilot-scale equipment; the plant will also help with a definitive feasibility study for the company's patented extraction process. Certainly, the company's efforts have paid off — it announced the start up of the plant on September 8. And that's not all. Western Lithium is also targeting the production of specialty drilling fluid additives from the hectorite clay at Kings Valley, and anticipates that its Hectatone™ Organoclay plant will begin production this fall.
Pure Energy Minerals (TSXV:PE)Up 637 percent year-to-date, Pure Energy Minerals has been busy advancing its Clayton Valley lithium brine property in Esmeralda County in Nevada. The project is strategically located next to Rockwood Lithium's Silver Peak mine and plant, the only active US-based lithium brine plant and mine. Owned by Rockwood Holdings (NYSE:ROC), Rockwood Lithium has been identified by some analysts as a likely choice for Tesla in its hunt for a lithium supplier. Pure Energy Minerals has entered into several key partnerships this year. It signed an option agreement with GeoXplor in order to earn up to a 100-percent interest in certain placer mineral claims, also located in Esmeralda County, and signed a mutual cooperation agreement with Phoenix Water for lithium processing technologies that include clean water recovery. Furthermore, Pure Energy entered a memorandum of understanding with Korea's POSCO (NYSE:PKX), one of the largest steel manufacturers in the world, regarding the possibility of jointly exploring Pure Energy's lithium claims in Nevada and the "commercialization of environmentally friendly mineral extraction and processing technologies for lithium brine." Lithium Corporation (OTCMKTS:LTUM) While it is primarily engaged in early stage exploration activities, Lithium Corporation is still a Nevada lithium junior worth mentioning, as its stock has gone up by around 550 percent this year. In August, the company sold its interest in the BC Sugar flake graphite property, as well as its Fish Lake Valley and San Emidio lithium brine properties in Nevada, to PATHION, an energetic materials and advanced power device company. PATHION's CEO, Michael Liddle, stated, "[w]e look forward to working with the esteemed Lithium Corporation geologists on the development of these claims and the identification of additional prospects for energetic materials." Interestingly, the company also acquired an indirect 25-percent interest in mine claims that were once owned by the late Howard Hughes. Lithium Corporation owns part of the privately held Summa LLC and its 88 fee-title patented lode claims in Nevada, and the area has a strong history of mineral production. Overall, Lithium Corporation has a keen focus on materials related to the electric vehicle battery industry, and recently commenced an exploration program at its Heimdal flake graphite property in British Columbia.
What's next?With Tesla slated to develop its gigafactory in Nevada, and with the state playing host to the only active lithium mine and mill in the U.S., Nevada certainly seems to be an important place for those wanting to grab a stake in the lithium space. Interested investors will no doubt want to keep an eye on Nevada and on lithium companies working to develop projects there. Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no investment interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Related reading: Tesla's Gigafactory Decision a "Nevada Victory" Nevada Lithium Juniors Jump on News of Tesla Gigafactory 3 Lithium Juniors in Nevada Up Over 200 Percent Year-to-Date from Lithium Investing News