2015 was a tough year for the mining space, and while 2016 is shaping up to be at least a little better, many investors are still wondering how to find the best mining companies to invest in.

One place to consider looking is the TSX Venture Exchange’s TSX Venture 50 list. Released annually, it ranks the exchange’s strongest performers across five sectors: cleantech, diversified industries, oil and gas, technology and life sciences and, of course, mining. Companies are chosen based on three equally weighted criteria: market cap growth, share price appreciation and trading volume. According to the exchange, the companies on this year’s list collectively delivered a return of 72 percent in 2015.

For investors trying to find the best mining companies to invest in, these companies may be a good place to start. Read on to learn which mining companies made it onto this year’s TSX Venture 50 list, and to get a brief overview of what they’re currently up to.

1. Pure Energy Minerals (TSXV:PE)

Pure Energy Minerals is focused on its Nevada-based Clayton Valley lithium brine project, and is best known for its conditional deal to supply Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) with lithium for its lithium-ion battery gigafactory. Aside from joint venture partners Bacanora Minerals (TSXV:BCN,LSE:BCN) and Rare Earth Minerals (LSE:REM), Pure Energy is the only lithium company to have secured such an agreement.

The company signed its deal with Tesla in September 2015, and since then has continued to work hard at Clayton Valley. Most recently, it completed the fifth well at the project, exceeding the target depth.

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2. Nemaska Lithium (TSXV:NMX)

As its name suggests, Nemaska Lithium is also a lithium company. And like Pure Energy, Nemaska has its sights set on the lithium-ion battery market. It’s currently developing its Quebec-based Whabouchi lithium project, and ultimately plans to produce spodumene concentrate there, then transform that material into high-purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate that it can sell to lithium-ion battery producers.

Earlier this month, the company released an update on the construction of its Phase 1 lithium hydroxide plant. Construction is expected to start this quarter and finish in Q4 2016; the plant is slated to produce 500 tonnes per year of high-purity lithium hydroxide.

3. NexGen Energy (TSXV:NXE)

Uranium exploration and development company NexGen Energy has a portfolio of projects across Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Its key focus is the Arrow zone, located at its Rook 1 project. Rook 1 also hosts the Bow discovery, which is 3.7 kilometers northeast of Arrow.

NexGen completed a lot of work at Arrow in 2014 and 2015, and so far has kept it up into 2016. Its most recent results from the zone came this week — the company reported that it’s extended Arrow’s strike length to 670 meters. Earlier in February, NexGen drilled its most intense mineralization to date at Arrow.

4. Integra Gold (TSXV:ICG)

Integra Gold’s main asset is its Quebec-based Lamaque South project, which has two primary targets: the Parallel zone and the Triangle zone. In addition to Lamaque South, the company holds the fully permitted Sigma mill and tailings facility, located just 1 kilometer from Parallel and 3 kilometers from Triangle. At the moment, Integra is in the midst of releasing assay results from fall 2015/winter 2016 drilling at Triangle.

5. Arena Minerals (TSXV:AN)

Arena Minerals describes itself as a prospect generator, and at the moment it has two properties under option in Chile. Its flagship project is the Atacama copper project, and its other project is Pampas El Penon. Commenting on Arena’s inclusion on this year’s TSX Venture 50 list, President and CEO William Randall said that among other things, the company’s 2015 achievements include signing three joint venture agreements.

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6. Elcora Advanced Materials (TSXV:ERA)

Elcora Advanced Materials, formerly Elcora Resources, is looking to become a vertically integrated graphite and graphene company that mines, processes and refines graphite, and produces both graphene and applications for graphene. The company is currently producing graphite at the Ragedara mine in Sri Lanka, and recently completed its processing facility.

In recent weeks, Elcora has begun construction of its graphene production facility, and, along with its joint venture partner Sakura Graphite, has entered into a 10-year exclusive distribution agreement with Thyssenkrupp Metallurgical Products.

7. Gold Standard Ventures (TSXV:GSV,NYSEMKT:GSV)

Advanced-stage gold exploration company Gold Standard Ventures is focused on district-scale discoveries at the Railroad-Pinion gold project, located in the Nevada-based Carlin Trend. According to the company, Railroad-Pinion is adjacent to Newmont Mining’s (NYSE:NEM) Rain and Emigrant mines, and “encompasses a unique target-rich district which still remains predominantly untested.”

This week, Gold Standard announced 2016 exploration plans for Railroad-Pinion, commenting that a US$13.4-million exploration program is in the works. It will cover about 43,000 meters across 100 holes, with the majority of work being completed at the Dark Star and Pinion oxide gold deposits.

8. Canada Carbon (TSXV:CCB)

Canada Carbon is a graphite exploration company whose current focus is its Quebec-based Miller hydrothermal lump/vein graphite project. The graphite at the project is very high in carbon content, and requires only limited upgrading to reach carbon purity levels of 99 percent and above. As the company has explained, a key benefit of having very high-purity graphite is that “there are numerous potential applications because the product is lower cost than synthetic graphite.”

In December, the company said a preliminary economic assessment for Miller is in the works, among other things.

9. Viscount Mining (TSXV:VML)

Like Arena Minerals, Viscount Mining bills itself as a prospect generator, though instead of Chile it’s looking to build a portfolio of high-quality exploration projects in the US. Its flagship project is the Nevada-based Cherry Creek project, which is made up of over 400 unpatented and patented claims, as well as mill rights. It also holds the Silver Cliff project, which consists of 96 lode claims.

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The company has been fairly quiet so far in 2016, but did announce assay results from Phase 1 drilling at Cherry Creek earlier this month. According to the company, “

[m]oderate to high grade silver mineralization was intercepted in many of the holes.” Work at Cherry Creek is being conducted by Summit Mining Exploration, a subsidiary of Sumitomo (TSE:8053).

10. Roxgold (TSXV:ROG)

Roxgold is a gold exploration and development company whose key asset is the Burkina Faso-based Yaramoko gold project. The company is advancing the 55 zone at the project through construction and expects to start production there in Q2 2016. Roxgold’s most recent news came earlier this month, when it announced a $20-million bought-deal financing.


Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

Editorial Disclosure: Canada Carbon and Nemaska Lithium are clients of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content. 

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