Voyageur Pharmaceuticals completes FDA submission milestone for first barium contrast product license application

Radiographic contrast media are substances used in diagnostic imaging tests such as ultrasound, X-rays, CT scans and MRI to enhance the visibility of internal structures. Iodine and barium sulfate are the typically used substances to provide the contrast media. According to IQ41 Research & Consultancy Pvt. Ltd: The global addressable market for contrast media is forecast to grow from US$4.7 billion in 2021 to US$7 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 7.7%.

As of April 2022, Voyageur Pharmaceutical reports that barium sulfate prices are up 300% in the past 12 months, to $17,000/tonne; due to a worldwide shortage of high-quality natural USP pharmaceutical barium sulfate which has forced most manufacturers to use synthetic, high-cost barite for their products.

Voyageur Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (TSXV: VM) (Voyageur) is advancing its plan to become the only fully integrated company in the radiographic contrast media field, by developing barium and iodine generic radiographic contrast media. Voyageur is unique, as it plans to source its own raw materials (barium sulfate & iodine) from its own mineral deposits located in Canada and USA respectively.

Progressing towards potentially achieving FDA approval in the USA

As announced on May 18, 2022, Voyageur has recently completed a milestone with their FDA submission. According to Voyageur: “Based on preliminary discussions with the FDA, Voyageur has submitted extensive documentation for the first barium contrast product license application. Voyageur is currently scheduled to meet with the FDA in June, to finalize submission requirements for this product and once this application is approved, the Company plans on submitting applications for additional products. Upon receipt of the application, the FDA may grant the license within 120 days, thus giving Voyageur the approval to market its first barium sulfate contrast agent in the United States.”

The current timeline suggests the potential FDA licensing approvals may be obtained by October to November 2022, all going well.

Product development

Voyageur recently completed the design and testing of the first batch of its smoothie product line of barium sulfate contrast agent. Voyageur says that “once this testing is completed, the data will be used to support the initial marketing and sale of the Company’s line of barium sulfate imaging products that are approved for the Canadian market and in tandem will be used for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submission.”

Voyageur plans to achieve initial cash flow through third-party pharmaceutical manufacturing, sourcing third-party minerals, turnkey manufacturing, bottling, and distribution of barium and iodine radiographic pharmaceutical drugs. The longer-term plan is to be vertically integrated.

Voyageur Pharmaceuticals completed milestones

Source: Voyageur Resources company presentation

Next steps and a positive PEA announced in January 2022

Voyageur has engaged an engineering firm to design and build the barium processing and contrast manufacturing plant and the pharmaceutical product manufacturing plant. According to Voyager: “These two facilities will become the foundation of the only fully integrated and totally controlled entry into the global imaging market for barium sulfate contrast agents. This control is intended to provide Voyageur with a low-cost advantage that should support the gaining of market share and improved margins.”

The master plan is for the plant to be fed by Voyageur’s 100% owned barium sourced from the Frances Creek Project. The Project is located near the town of Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada. All of the above is subject to funding.

The Frances Creek Pharmaceutical Barium Project Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) was announced in January 2022, resulting in a base case pre-tax net present value 8% (“NPV8%”) of C$464 million and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 168%, while the post-tax NPV8% was C$344 million with an IRR of 137%. The total capital required over 3 years for the Project was estimated at C$36 million. Operating gross margins were estimated to average 75% over the Project.

Voyageur Pharmaceuticals 2022 PEA for the Frances Creek Pharmaceutical Barium Project

Source: Voyageur Resources company presentation

Closing remarks

Voyageur Pharmaceuticals already has a very high grade (37.75%) barium sulfate Indicated Resource and has released a solid PEA for the integrated Frances Creek Pharmaceutical Barium Project.

The next major steps mostly revolve around further product development testing, FDA regulation in the USA, project funding, and finally getting into production. Beyond that is development of the Company’s Iodine-lithium-bromine brine project in Utah and potentially some battery mineral projects as you can read here.

2022 looks like being a key year for Voyageur Pharmaceuticals.

Resource Estimate due soon for Power Nickel’s Ni-Cu-Co-PGE Nisk Project

The search for battery metals in safe locations continues as companies see the tremendous demand curve ahead for these metals to supply the electric vehicle (EV) boom.

Today’s company is Power Nickel Inc. (TSXV: PNPN | OTCQB: CMETF), focused on their Canadian NISK project which contains nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), and some platinum group elements (PGE). They also have investments that give exposure to gold and copper projects in Canada and Chile, as well as a royalty agreement. Their projects and interests include the following:

  • NISK nickel sulphide Project (option to acquire 80% from Critical Elements Lithium Corp.). Two tenements blocks located near James Bay in Quebec, Canada.
  • Consolidation Gold & Copper (100% ownership with plans to be spun off) who owns 100% interest in the Golden Ivan Project in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle and also owns 100% interest in three projects in Chile. The Company also owns a 3% Copaquire Royalty on a copper-molybdenum deposit in Chile held by Teck Resources.

The NISK nickel sulphide project

The NISK property is composed of two blocks totaling 90 claims covering an area of 45.9 km2. The Property is currently known for its magmatic nickel-copper sulphide deposits. It holds the NISK-1 Ni-Cu-C0-PGE deposit. NISK has four distinct target areas covering over 7 kilometres of strike length.

The Project has a Historical Resource at the NISK-1 deposit from 2009 (usual cautions apply to historical resources) and Power Nickel is currently working towards completing an updated NI 43-101 compliant mineral resource. Based on the Historical Resource, grades were around 1% nickel, 0.53% copper, 0.06% cobalt, 0.91 g/t palladium, 0.29g/t platinum. The NISK-1 main deposit remains open to the East, West and at depth.

Location map of the NISK Property showing details of the Historical Resource

Source: Power Nickel company presentation

Power Nickel states: “Globally nickel sulphide deposits tend to exist as pods or as a string of pearls with each pearl representing a deposit. We believe this is what we have here at NISK and, with our actual understanding of the Nisk litho-structural setting, we expect a well-planned drill program to help expand beyond our first pearl at Nisk Main to hopefully other pearls located in our project land package…” It continues that “Nisk has four distinct target areas covering over 7 Kilometres of strike length. Our focus this round was on the Nisk Main target. Historically, we know globally these types of deposits typically have multiple pods. We are encouraged by what we see on Nisk Main and feel we can continue to build commercial tonnage there but we are also looking forward to exploring Nisk West and the two wildcat targets in subsequent drilling in Q2.”

The Project has road access and is traversed by the Hydro-Québec power line.

Closer location map view showing road access and power line traversing the Nisk-1 Property

Source: Power Nickel website

Power Nickel did announce their own new recent drill results on March 30, 2022, which included: PN21001 12.4 metres 0.82% Ni, 0.36% Cu, 0.09% Co, 0.69g/t Pd, 0.14g/t Pt from 149 m.

Power Nickel’s CEO Terry Lynch, commented: “These results are another positive indication that Nisk is a very exciting Nickel Sulphate discovery. Our objectives in this initial drill program conducted by Power Nickel were to produce enough drilling to allow us to establish a new NI 43101 compliant resource to confirm and replace the historical resource, and to extend the known Nickel mineralization. We believe we have established the latter and expect to be able to deliver a NI 43101 compliant Mineral Resource Estimate in Q2. Further, these results have made us confident enough to commence execution of an additional fully funded 5,000meter drill program which we would expect to start later in Q2 after breakup.”

Closing remarks

While it is still early days for Power Nickel there are several promising signs for their Nisk Project. Quebec Canada is a premier location, there is road and power access, a poly-metalic deposit in sulphide ore exists with nickel, copper, cobalt, palladium, and platinum, there is a Historical Resource (not to be relied upon), and some good recent drill results. The upcoming Nisk Project NI 43101 compliant Mineral Resource Estimate due in Q2, 2022 is the next milestone to watch out for.

Visionstate cleaning up with the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is just taking off now. The Global IoT market size is forecast to grow from US$478.36 billion in 2022 to US$2,465.26 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 26.4%. In some cases, the current global supply chain disruptions and rising costs are highlighting the need to have good IoT processes in place and thereby accelerating the rollout of the IOT.

Visionstate Corp. (TSXV: VIS) (Visionstate) is a growth oriented company that invests in the research and development of promising new technology in the realm of the Internet of Things, big data & analytics, and sustainability.

Visionstate has developed their WANDA™ family of IoT software products which are used in hospitals, seniors/aged care centres, airports, shopping centres and other public facilities across and beyond North America. The products include wandaNEXT™ and wandaMOBILE™.

Some common applications for the WANDA™ family of products include:

  • wandaNEXT™ – Is a system that offers real-time ‘notifications, analytics & reporting’ as well as an understanding of staff performance and facility needs. One example might be cleaning services in a hospital or other facility. wandaNEXT™ preassigned managers and designated cleaning staff are instantly notified when a patron requests service through wandaNEXT™. Cleaning staff then use wandaNEXT™ to record their response. wandaNEXT™ captures the exact time service is requested, the specific type of service required, and how quickly the cleaning staff responds to the request. There is also a dashboard where you can summon reports that give a detailed deep dive into a facility’s data (results).
  • wandaMOBILE™ – Uses quickscan QR codes to track the hard work and supplies of frontline cleaning and maintenance workers. As above, staff is automatically notified when someone uses their mobile device and a WANDA™ Quickscan QR Code to request service. Then, with either WANDA™’s available hand-held devices or their own personal phones and tablets, cleaning and maintenance staff use the WANDA™ Mobile App and the Quickscan QR Code to record their response activities.

Visionstate Corp.’s IoT products known as wandaNEXT™ and wandaMOBILE™

Source: Visionstate website

Recent news

In some interesting news reported in April 2022, Visionstate announced that their Internet of Things software solution for facilities (WANDA™) has gone global, with adoption accelerating due to COVID-19. The news stated: “WANDA™ has quickly become an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases as the sixth wave of the virus continues to create health concerns across Canada and beyond. WANDA™ is a mobile application, incorporating QR code functionality, that tracks cleaning and maintenance activities and measures those activities against new and more stringent protocols. “We are very pleased with the growth of Visionstate IoT Inc.,” said Company CEO John Putters. “WANDA™ is quickly becoming the primary tool for businesses, municipalities, and governments to ensure cleaning protocols are met in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19.”

A summary of the latest news in the global rollout of Wanda

Source: Visionsate news April 14, 2022

Visionstate investments

Apart from its WANDA™ products, Visionstate has invested in two organizations, Exceed Solar and Freedom Cannabis.

Exceed Solar specializes in solar applications including backyard garden suites and greenhouses that are powered by renewable energy. They use cutting edge technology and building materials to maximize efficiency. The Company is currently developing a smaller, secure, solar-powered backyard greenhouse that caters to the home growing market for cannabis.

Freedom Cannabis is a private, seed-to-sale cannabis company currently in the application process with Health Canada to become a licensed producer. They are completing the first phase of their growing operations of approximately 73,000 square feet in Acheson, Alberta, Canada.

Closing remarks

The IoT sector looks set for very high growth (one forecast is a CAGR of 26.4%) in the next few years and companies that can succeed in this area stand to do very well. Visionstate’s primary focus is their suite of IoT software products under their WANDA™ brand. A global rollout is still in the early stages but has been helped by increasing demand as a result of COVID-19.

Visionstate’s 2021 revenue was ~C$540K and the Company trades on a market cap of C$3 million.

Strong tin prices, new PEA and major expansion plan boost Alphamin Resources’ already strong revenues

Tin prices have dipped recently but are still up over 100% from where they were just two and a half years ago. This means that tin producers continue to do extremely well in this high price environment.

Today’s company has been achieving near record tin production and selling prices. This has resulted in very strong revenue and EBITDA results over the past year. Plus they have been growing their resource and have plans to further expand production.

The company is Alphamin Resources Corp. (TSXV: AFM) (Alphamin). Alphamin is a high grade, low cost, tin concentrate producer at its Mpama North Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Alphamin has the highest grade tin resource globally with a Resource Reserve of 3.33MT @ 4.01% Sn (tin) resulting in 133.4 kt of contained tin. Alphamin’s production equates to ~4% of the world’s mined tin.

Near-record tin production, sales and EBITDA in 2021 and Q1, 2022

As reported on May 13, 2022, Alphamin achieved 3,061 tonnes of tin production in Q1, 2022, boosted by recoveries improving from 75% to 78%. Contained tin sales increased by 9% to 3,336 tonnes at an average tin price of US$43,834/t. The AISC of contained tin sold during Q1 2022 increased by 4% to US$15,782/t. Alphamin stated: “As a result of steady production, good cost control and higher revenue, EBITDA for Q1 2022 amounted to US$98.1 million, up 32% from US$74.3 million the previous quarter.”

Growing their resource at Mpama South

As announced on April 4, 2022, Alphamin increased the Inferred Resource at Mpama South by 75%. The Mpama South Mineral Resource is now an Indicated 0.85Mt @ 2.55% Sn (21.5kt contained tin) and Inferred 3.42Mt @ 2.45% Sn (83.7kt contained tin).

Mpama North also had some excellent recent drill results from hole MND019: 14.4 metres @ 21.75% Sn from 432.2 metres, including 11.0 metres @ 27.81%from 432.2 metres.

Mpama South resource model

Source: Alphamin Resources news April 4, 2022

Mpama PEA and tin production expansion plans

Alphamin announced a very positive PEA for Mpama South on March 7, 2022. Alphamin CEO Maritz Smith commented:

“We are delighted to declare a Maiden Mineral Resource estimate and the outcome of a PEA study on Mpama South. The PEA quantifies the potentially value accretive economics of expanding production with the development of the adjacent Mpama South mine. Our current producing Mpama North mine absorbs large fixed costs, which facilitates incremental production from Mpama South at a competitive marginal cost. Developing Mpama South would bring Alphamin closer to its vision of becoming one of the world’s largest low-cost tin producers.”

Alphamin announced a positive PEA for the Mpama South project

Source: Alphamin news on March 7, 2022

Alphamin plans to increase annual contained tin production from the current 12,000tpa to ~20,000tpa (from FY2024), which equates to ~6.6% of the world’s mined tin. The estimated capital development cost is US$116 million. First tin production from Mpama South is targeted for December 2023.

Closing remarks

Alphamin has been producing strong revenues from tin production at their DRC tin mine. All of this has allowed the Company to rapidly grow their resource and announce a very large expansion plan from 12,000tpa to 20,000tpa, set to begin ramping from December 2023. This equates to a 66% increase in production.

Looking at Alphamin’s market cap it is currently at C$1.27 billion and trades on a 2022 PE of only 6.59, partially due to tin prices being lower in 2022. Not bad for a company set to rapidly grow production in 2024. Some increased risk due to the DRC location. Stay tuned.

June 2022 start for Vital Metals to produce mixed rare earth carbonates with feed from its own mines

The rare earths sector has been doing very well lately, especially the highly valued magnet rare earths for which prices have doubled over the past year. Neodymium (Nd) and praseodymium (Pr) are the key magnet rare earths used commonly in electric motors. They also fall into the category of the ‘light rare earths’. Another group of rare earths, known as the ‘heavy rare earths‘, also have value. They include europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium and yttrium. Dysprosium (Dy) in particular is very valuable and is critically necessary for and used in alloys for neodymium based magnets subject to high temperature swings in operation.

Today’s company is working towards becoming a North American producer of both light and heavy rare earths.

Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) (Vital) is a rare earths ore producer from their Nechalacho Rare Earths Mine in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada. Nechalacho has a measured, indicated and inferred resource of 94.7Mt at 1.46% REO for 1.3Mt contained TREO. The focus to date has been on the high-grade, light rare earths, found in the bastnaesite mineralization there.

Vital has off-take agreements with REEtec in Norway and with Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) in the USA. In both cases, Vital is working with them to develop a qualified feed stock for them end at commercial scale. In some good recent news, offtake buyer, REEtec,  signed a supply agreement with Germany’s large OEM automotive supplier,Schaeffler, thereby potentially securing Vital’s revenue from the sale of its product to REEtec.

Vital is currently constructing a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, based cracking and leaching facility, with first feed to the facility expected in June 2022. An additional C$5 million of funding/reimbursement was recently achieved to help support the commissioning and ramp-up stage. Vital aims to produce a minimum of 5,000 tons annually of contained REO by 2025 at the Nechalacho Mine.

Vital Metals’ Managing Director Geoff Atkins stated: “With production forecast to commence in June 2022, this will make Vital North America’s only producer of high purity rare earth carbonate with feed from its own mines providing security of supply for the global rare earths supply chain.”

Expansion into heavy rare earths

As announced on April 29, 2022, Vital is now planning to expand their existing light rare earths mine operation to also include heavy rare earths. Vital plans to investigate developing a zone of xenotime mineralization, the principle heavy rare earth hard-rock mineral, at Nechalacho’s North T pit, targeting a 10-year operation from the zone.  Xenotime,  is an yttrium phosphate mineral, and is the only known commercially feasible hard-rock source of dysprosium and terbium, which are the critical magnet rare earth additives for high temperature operations. As Vital stated: “Tardiff contains elevated heavy rare earths mineralization which may complement North T’s xenotime deposit as part of Vital’s strategy to produce heavy and light rare earths.”

Next steps

In 2022, in addition to commencing production at the Saskatoon facility and working on expanding into heavy rare earths, Vital plans further drilling at the Tardiff zone to define a maiden Ore Reserve. 

Vital Metals 3 stage strategy to become a North American producer of both light & heavy rare earths

Source: Vital Metals March 2022 quarterly report

Closing remarks

Vital Metals continues to march forward at a rapid pace. In late June 2021 the Nechalacho mine came into production, notably being Canada’s first-ever producing rare earths mine. Then only a year later in June 2022, the Saskatoon cracking and leaching facility’s first production of a mixed rare earth carbonate is set to commence.

If that wasn’t good enough the Company is now planning to also produce heavy rare earths, also from the Nechalacho Mine. Once achieved Vital announced that they would become the “the world’s first producer of both heavy and light rare earth oxides.”

Vital Metals trades on a market cap of A$204 million. Exciting times ahead.

Search Minerals moving forward with growing rare earths resource, new PEA and a commercial magnetic separation plant

It has recently been reported that the U.S. Government (subject to approval of the proposal) is likely to widen their definition of “domestic source” in the Defense Production Act to include the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Australia. This is in addition to the current inclusion of Canada and of course the USA. If passed, this is great news for critical material miners located in these countries.

One such company is focused on the high value magnet rare earths and is advancing their project in Canada. Magnet rare earths prices, such as neodymium, have increased very significantly over the past year as EV demand surged.

Search Minerals Inc. (TSXV: SMY | OTCQB: SHCMF) (Search) is developing their rare earths projects in Labrador, Canada. Their three projects include:

  • The Port Hope Simpson (PHS) Property (flagship) – Includes Foxtrot, Deep Fox, Silver Fox, Awesome Fox, and Fox Meadow deposits. Prospective for Neodymium (Nd), Praseodymium (Pr), Dysprosium (Dy), and Terbium (Tb), as well as Zirconium (Zr) and Hafnium (Hf). The updated 2022 PEA is due soon in Q2, 2022.
  • The Henley Harbour Area in Southern Labrador.
  • The Red Wine Complex located in Central Labrador.

Search Minerals PHS Property showing the Foxtrot & Deep Fox deposits and other targets

Source: Search Minerals website

Search’s flagship PHS Property has been the Company’s focus with a PEA completed in 2016 on Foxtrot only, an updated Resource recently released (now includes both Foxtrot & Deep Fox), and an updated PEA to follow very soon. Given the larger resource (hence potentially longer mine life) and higher rare earth prices, the upcoming 2022 PEA is expected to potentially improve significantly on the 2016 PEA. Search President & CEO Greg Andrews, discusses the positive impact on their upcoming PEA in a recent InvestorIntel video here.

Details of the updated resource at Foxtrot and Deep Fox

As a result of the recent updated resource news the Foxtrot resource has grown by approximately 60% from the 2016 estimate and the Deep Fox resource has grown by 25% from the 2019 estimate. Search state in their April 11, 2022 resource announcement: “Revenue attributable to Pr, Nd, Dy, and Tb represent approximately 92% of the total revenue.”

Estimated Mineral Resources for the FOXTROT and DEEP FOX Projects as of December 31, 2021

Source: Search Minerals announcement on April 11, 2022

Both Foxtrot and Deep Fox Resources include open pit (OP) and underground (UG) components as shown on the models below. They will form the basis of the upcoming updated 2022 PEA. In both cases, mineralization remains open at depth.

Models showing the open pit and underground resource at Foxtrot and Deep Fox

Source: Search Minerals announcement on April 11, 2022

Next steps (including steps towards a full commercial magnetic separation plant)

The next steps for Search at their PHS Property will be the 2022 PEA release, further drilling to grow the resource (including at Fox Meadow), and further advancements with off-take agreements. In 2021 Search signed a non-binding MOU with USA Rare Earth LLC for the future delivery of a rare earth mineral concentrate supply containing 500 tpa of NdPr. The MOU also included a plan to expand the collaboration to include discussions regarding separation, marketing, and offtake of a portion of the future production at Search’s Deep Fox and Foxtrot deposits. There will also be the upcoming results from Search’s magnetic separation program using bulk samples from the PHS Property (Foxtrot & Deep Fox). The results of the testing will be used as part of a ‘scale up’ to a full commercial magnetic separation plant.

Search President & CEO, Greg Andrews, states: “We continue with our “Sprint to Production” and this is a very important step to scale up and produce more material for further separation into individual oxides of the permanent magnet material, Neodymium (Nd), Praseodymium (Pr), Dysprosium (Dy) and Terbium (Tb). These are the key elements which create the value in the rare earth element supply chain. Upon producing the oxides, Search will demonstrate the transformation of the permanent magnet oxides into metal.”

Closing remarks

Last month Search released a significant Resource upgrade at Foxtrot and Deep Fox deposits on their PHS Property. The results were strong growing the resources by 60% and 25% respectively. Both remain open at depth and the PHS Property has numerous other exciting rare earth targets such as Silver Fox, Awesome Fox, and Fox Meadow. This means the PHS Property should potentially continue to further grow the total resource size in years to come. Search did recently release encouraging assay results at the Fox Meadow target where Search plans to commence a 6,000 m drill program this fall.

The big next catalyst for Search is the upcoming updated 2022 PEA which should potentially see a significant improvement on the 2016 PEA. Following that it will be interesting to see Search’s progress towards becoming a rare earths miner as well as processor.

Search Minerals trades on a market cap of C$65 million.

TrustBIX expands with strategic software acquisition and a new agreement with one of world’s largest food companies

Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance (ESG) investing is big business these days as many global fund managers are required to use ESG criteria as part of their portfolio selection. According to NAVEX Global: “As of 2020, 88% of publicly traded companies, 79% of the venture and private equity-backed companies, and 67% of privately-owned companies had ESG initiatives in place.”

Today’s company fits in very nicely with regard to the data needed for ESG reports, particularly with regard to the food supply chain.

TrustBIX Inc. (TSXV: TBIX | OTCQB: TBIXF) offers a blockchain-based platform to trace food supply to achieve more trust, less waste, and reward sustainable behaviour. TrustBIX has two platforms ‘BIX’ (Business InfoXchange) and ‘ViewTrak’. BIX traces food from farm ‘Gate to Plate®’ to ensure that the food is sustainably produced. ViewTrak provides a suite of hardware and software solutions to the livestock industry.

TrustBIX expands its reach due to the completion of the ‘Insight’ acquisition

TrustBIX recently finalized the acquisition of a company called Insight Global Technology Inc. (Insight), which tracks and manages high-value agricultural and other equipment. TrustBIX CEO, Hubert Lau, stated: “Together with Insight, we will be combining our BIX technology and incentive solutions with Insight’s edge-to-enterprise supply chain solutions. With this expanded suite of offerings, we continue our commitment to expand our Gate-to-Plate® technologies for our customers.”

The purchase of Insight allows for TrustBIX to significantly expand their customer base well beyond the food supply chain. This is because Insight provides solutions to track, protect and identify the movement of high-value moveable equipment used in agriculture as well as other industries. Insight describes their business as “an edge-to-enterprise supply chain solution that brings asset situational awareness to dealers, rental fleets, and civil construction managers.”

Furthermore, the Insight acquisition has been executed strategically using TrustBIX equity. The brief details are: “The Insight shareholders will receive 10,000,000 Consideration Shares (subject to certain resale restrictions) on closing, and an additional amount of up to 20,000,000 Consideration Shares (subject to applicable escrow and resale restrictions) may be issued by the Company based on the satisfaction of certain financial metrics over the twelve months after the closing of the transaction.”

TrustBIX signs agreement with JBS Food Canada ULC

As announced on May 3, 2022, TrustBIX has also signed a master services agreement with JBS Food Canada ULC (“JBS Canada”). This is a big deal and may potentially open the door to a larger JBS deal in the future. JBS is one of the world’s largest food companies, which prepares, packages and delivers fresh, further-processed and value-added premium protein products for sale to customers in approximately 100 countries on 6 continents.

The news release states: “The companies will work as trusted partners to grow sustainable beef production in Canada. These services support the evolution of the JBS Angus beef brand with full chain of custody data tracking and analysis by the Company’s proprietary platform, BIX.”

David Colwell, President of JBS Canada, comments: “Food integrity is at the core of the JBS Canada Advantage, therefore working with the TrustBIX team will enhance the JBS journey to provide unmatched quality and service, along with accountability and transparency. JBS looks forward to developing a sustainable Angus beef program for our retail customers. We believe in this partnership with TrustBIX and their commitment to our sustainable beef program.”

TrustBIX sells software to help trace food and agricultural supply chains but has other uses also (energy monitoring, rewarding sustainable behaviour, tracing high value moveable equipment)

Source: TrustBIX website

Closing remarks

ESG investing is supported by data produced by companies using the best available software. TrustBIX continues to grow their offering of software products designed to support the industry to be able to produce the data needed for full chain of custody data tracking and analysis. The product producer and seller also benefit by having visibility over their supply chain. And finally the consumer benefits also by knowing the products they buy are coming from known sources.

TrustBIX’s recent news including the completion of the Insight acquisition and signing the JBS Canada agreement both speaks volumes for the direction in which TrustBIX is heading.

TrustBIX trades on a market cap of C$10 million.

With coming PFS Troilus Gold sees potential to be a cornerstone gold mine for decades to come

Many small gold mining stocks fail to deliver. This is the nature of mining, especially gold, given gold is so hard to find. Today’s company is an exception as it continues to deliver solid results at their gold-copper project in Quebec Canada.

Troilus Gold Corp. (TSX: TLG | OTCQX: CHXMF) (Troilus) is a junior gold mining success story potentially in the making. The Company bought the former gold and copper Troilus Mine in 2017 and has successfully grown the resource since then to the point where Troilus now has one of the largest undeveloped gold resources in Canada. The Troilus Gold Project now has an Indicated Resource of 4.96 million ounces of contained AuEq @ 0.87g/t AuEq and an Inferred Resource of 3.15 million ounces of contained AuEq. The Project consists of a 142,000 hectares (1,420 km²) land package in north central Quebec, Canada and lies within the prospective Frôtet-Evans Greenstone Belt.

The Troilus Gold Project in Quebec, Canada is a former gold-copper mine with plans to restart and produce 220-250,000 Au oz pa

Source: Troilus Gold Corp. company presentation

A recap of 2021 for Troilus

Troilus CEO, Justin Reid, summed up 2021 nicely stating: “2021 was an intensive year of work by the Troilus team as it continued to solidify the foundations and advance our mining project, which we believe has the potential to be a cornerstone Canadian mine for decades to come……First and foremost, we had great success with the drill bit and in the field… As it turned out, the more we drilled, the more mineralization we found. Our understanding of the geology at Troilus continues to improve and evolve. In 2021, we drilled ~100,000 metres, over 50% of which were drilled in the newly discovered Southwest Zone, where we identified some of the best grades ever at Troilus. This zone continues to be a priority growth target, with results suggesting a much broader system well beyond the existing mineral envelope which remains open at depth and in all directions. 2021’s drill program also identified a new hanging wall in the J Zone, demonstrating mineral continuity over a 700m strike length parallel to the main ore body.”

Note: Bold emphasis by the author.

The Troilus Gold Project showing the various gold discovery zones as well as the 2020 PEA pit shell designs

Source: Troilus Gold company presentation

Recent success has seen the stock price move higher in 2022

Recent drilling has continued this success with further high grade results notably at the Southwest zone, but also making a new discovery at Testard. Troilus has also had some very good gold (92.9%) and copper (90.4%) recovery results from their pilot test program.

  • May 4, 2022 – “Troilus drills 13.64 g/t AuEq over 3m, Incl. 29.81 g/t over 1m, 2.42 g/t AuEq over 6m, 2.11 g/t AuEq over 10m in the Southwest Zone; New mineral extension identified 300m below PEA pit shell… All the results reported today will be included in the mineral resource update and Pre-Feasibility Study, expected in mid-2022.”
  • April 21, 2022 – “Troilus drills record high-grade in Southwest Zone: 92 g/t and 68 g/t gold over 1m, and 3.07 g/t AuEq over 15m, Zone extended +200m; Initial gap Zone drilling returns 4.2 g/t AuEq over 7m.”
  • March 31, 2022 – “Troilus announces new discovery at Testard: Drills 4.6 g/t gold over 7.6m, Incl. 20.2 g/t over 1.2m; 6.7 g/t gold over 3.2m, 10km from main mine site.”

Regarding the new Testard discovery, Troilus CEO Justin Reid, stated: “Testard has returned the highest insitu gold and silver grades identified to date within the entire Frôtet-Evans Greenstone Belt; these initial drill results are hugely motivating to our team as we continue to assess results and further develop our models in preparation for an expanded drill program.”

Next steps

In mid-2022 Troilus expects to release an updated mineral resource estimate (will include results from the successful 2021 drill campaign) and a Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS). The 2020 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) resulted in a post-tax NPV5% of US$915 million, post-tax IRR of 32.2%, based on a US$1,750/oz gold price.

Closing remarks

Troilus continues to grow their resource and potentially move towards becoming a Canadian mid-tier gold producer.

The PEA mentioned above forecasts Troilus to be a low-cost producer with cash operating costs of US$719/oz AuEq. Given the rise in copper prices the past year this is likely to drop even lower in the upcoming PFS. Combine this with a larger resource and the potential for a low-cost, long life, mine only grows further. The 2020 PEA concluded that the “projected payable gold is 3.8 million ounces, payable copper 265 million lbs and payable silver 1.5 million ounces over the 22-year mine life.”

This makes Troilus a potential future mid tier gold producer in Canada, with gold production forecast at around 220-250,000 oz pa. Certainly, the initial CapEx (net of US$350 million of existing infrastructure) of US$333 million looks to be achievable. Sustaining CapEx over the life of the mine is estimated at an additional US$506 million.

Troilus Gold trades on a market cap of C$160 million. Looking good, especially if gold prices stay strong. Stay tuned for the upcoming updated resource estimate and PFS in the coming months.

Rising demand benefits the only integrated producer of bonded rare earth permanent magnets outside of China

Neo Performance Materials Inc. (TSX: NEO) (Neo) is an almost totally integrated Western (Canadian) company that processes mixed rare earth concentrates to produce separated individual and specifically blended rare earths to produce rare earth metals, alloys, and “bonded” rare earth permanent magnets. What makes Neo special is that they are the only company in the world that operates dual supply chains inside and outside of China for REE separation and REE advanced materials and end-use products. Neo owns the only operating commercial rare earth separation facility outside of Asia. It’s in Europe (Estonia facility) and it has sales and production centers spread across 10 countries globally.

All of the above makes Neo unique as a Western producer of rare earth materials as well as end-use products, which are critical in the green energy and EV revolution.

Award winning facilities

As announced on February 22 and March 28, 2022, Neo won awards for two of its key factories, the first in Thailand and the second in Estonia. The awards were Gold Medals awarded by EcoVadis for 2021 sustainability performance.

The second announcement stated: “This places Neo’s Silmet facility in Sillamäe, Estonia in the top five percent of all facilities around the world reporting to EcoVadis for its sustainability programs in 2022… The Silmet facility processes mixed rare earth feedstock into a variety of high-purity rare earth specialty materials, including neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide, which is used by Neo’s Magnequench business unit to produce neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnetic materials and magnets for automotive, factory automation, home appliance, circulation pump, and other applications.”

This impressive recognition is also very well timed given the surging demand for NdFeB magnets used in many EV motors. Global electric car sales finished March 2022 with 851,000 sales for the month (the second best month ever), 60% higher YoY, with market share of 15%.

The global OEM automotive industry today uses mainly sintered NdFeB rare earth permanent magnets, but the use of bonded type NdFeB in this application is growing rapidly. Neo has pioneered the use of bonded NdFeB magnets in automotive applications with Japanese customer/partner, Honda, and this use is expanding. Neo has agreed with European magnet customers to expand its capacity there and to add sintered NdFeB magnets to its product lines. The EU has encouraged and is financially supportive of this move by Neo.

Prices for rare earths materials and end-user products used in the green economy have been surging the past year, due to demand exceeding supply, and this is reflected in Neo’s latest financial results. This supply deficit looks to be baked in for at least the next decade due to the growth of the green economy.

Q4 2021 and Full-Year financial results highlights (in USD)

As reported on March 10, 2022, Neo achieved the following outstanding financial results:

  • “Q4 2021 revenue of $153.4 million higher by 39.0% YoY; full-year 2021 revenue of $539.3 million was higher by 55.5% YoY.
  • Volumes in the fourth quarter of 3,311 tonnes; full-year volumes expanded by 20.2%.
  • Operating income of $12.7 million in the quarter; $59.9 million for the year.
  • Adjusted Net Income for the quarter of $16.1 million, or $0.39 per share, with full-year Adjusted Net Income of $55.0 million, or $1.42 per share.
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter of $19.7 million; 2021 Adjusted EBITDA of $81.9 million was 183.7% higher YoY.
  • Cash balance of $89.0 million after raising $38.0 million from equity offering and distributing $12.8 million in dividends to shareholders.”

As shown above, full-year 2021 revenue was 55.5% higher YoY, based on volume growth of 20.2%. Clearly higher-end product prices helped support the stellar results. Neo sums it up well and the general direction the business is heading by stating:

“Neo reported strong year-over-year (YoY) gains in revenue, volumes, operating income, Adjusted EBITDA, and profitability in the year ended December 31, 2021, driven largely by increased demand for products across all three of its operating divisions, higher selling prices for rare earth materials, and continuing progress in several of the Company’s strategic initiatives.”

I did warn investors that this was what we were expecting from Neo with our December 22, 2021 article: “Neo Performance Materials looks to expand capacity as it rides the tailwind of growing rare earth permanent magnet demand.”

Neo Performance Materials is one of a few Western companies able to process rare earths and make magnets

Source: Neo Performance Materials website

Closing remarks

Neo Performance Materials occupies a rare and critical position in the Western supply chain to produce rare earths specialty products. Demand for powerful rare earth type magnets used in many consumer goods as well as in wind turbines and EVs is expected to surge this decade.

Neo Performance Materials trades on a market cap of C$546 million and a current PE of 17.6. 2022 PE is forecast at 7.82.

The next catalyst for Neo will be the Q1, 2022 earning results due out before the market opens on May 13, 2022. Stay tuned.

With lithium demand skyrocketing here are 5 early-stage lithium junior miners to watch

With lithium demand projected to increase 10-11 fold this decade, there is a huge opportunity for successful lithium junior miners to prosper. Last year Rio Tinto was quoted as saying that “filling the supply gap will require over 60 Jadar projects”.

Then just last month Tesla CEO Elon Musk said (Tesla Q1 2022 earnings call transcript): “…can more people please get into the lithium business? Do you like minting money? Well, the lithium business is for you…” Musk also said on Twitter: “Price of lithium has gone to insane levels! Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale unless costs improve.

Of course, industry experts have been warning of EV metals supply deficits for some years, but it appears these warnings mostly fell on deaf ears. With this background in mind, today we take a look at some early-stage lithium junior companies with the potential to help fill the lithium supply gap in the second half of this decade.

China lithium carbonate spot prices – up about 6x over the past year due to lithium shortages

Source: Trading Economics

5 early-stage lithium junior miners to watch out for in 2022 (in no particular order)

  1. Essential Metals Limited (ASX: ESS)
  2. Green Technology Metals Limited (ASX: GT1)
  3. Metals Australia Ltd. (ASX: MLS)
  4. Lithium South Development Corporation (TSXV: LIS | OTCQB: LISMF)
  5. Winsome Resources Limited (ASX: WR1)

Essential Metals Limited (ASX: ESS)

Essential Metals is an Australian exploration company with 9 projects (lithium, gold, gold JV, and nickel JV) all in Western Australia (WA). Three of the projects are 100% owned and 6 are JV’s with other companies, with ESS retaining a 20-30% interest (see below).

Essential Metal’s flagship project is their 100% owned Pioneer Dome Lithium Project in WA. The Project is located in a known lithium corridor and the gold-rich Eastern Goldfields region of WA, which contains the Mt Marion, Bald Hill and Buldania lithium mines/projects. The Project has a reasonable sized JORC compliant Total Resource of 11.2Mt at 1.21% Li2O, still with exploration upside. The Resource starts from or near surface. Drill assay results from the recent campaign are due out by the end of May 2022.

Essential Metals also has two other 100% owned gold projects in WA, namely the Golden Ridge Project (100% owned), 20kms from the Kalgoorlie super pit and the Juglah Dome Project, 60km east-southeast of Kalgoorlie. In addition, the Company has numerous JV projects including Acra Gold Project JV (25% interest), Kangan Gold Project JV (30%), Balagundi Gold Project Farmin/JV (25%), Larkinville Gold Project Farmin/JV (25% gold interest) (hosts a JORC Resource of 19,700 t @ 3.02 g/t for 11,600 oz. Au), Blair-Golden Ridge Nickel Farmin/JV (25% nickel interest) and Wattle Dam Nickel Joint Venture (20% nickel interest).

Essential Metals trades on a market cap of A$162 million.

Essential Metals summary showing the Pioneer Dome Lithium Project location near other successful lithium mines and projects in WA

Source: Essential Metals company presentation

Green Technology Metals Limited (ASX: GT1)

Green Technology Metals (GT1) has multiple lithium projects (options to acquire, some at 80% interest others at 100% interest) spread over 39,982 hectares in Ontario, Canada. GT1’s most advanced project is the Seymour Lithium Project with a JORC Total Mineral Resource of 4.8Mt @ 1.25%. Within the Seymour Project, drill results include an impressive 40m @ 1.54% Li2O. When combining all GT1’s Ontario Lithium Projects the target resource is 50-60 MT @ 0.8-1.5% Li2O.

An updated resource estimate is targeted for Q2, 2022. Management is top tier and highly experienced.

Green Technology Metals trades on a market cap of A$212 million.

GT1’s portfolio of multiple lithium projects in Ontario Canada

Source: GT1 website

Metals Australia Ltd. (ASX: MLS)

Metals Australia is an Australian junior miner with several projects. Their most advanced project is the Lac Rainy Nord Graphite Project in Quebec, Canada with an Indicated and Inferred Resource of 13.3Mt at 11.5% TGC for 1.529M tonnes of contained graphite.

With regards to lithium, Metals Australia 100% owns the promising Manindi Lithium and Zinc Project in WA. The Project has several lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatites spread over a total 3km strike length. Individual pegmatites have strike lengths of over 300m and widths of up to 25-30m. Past drilling includes intersections of 15m @ 1.2% Li2O, 117 Ta205 from 34m. Drilling is ongoing notably at the Foundation pegmatite where consistently high grade lithium grab samples (1% Li2O and >0.4% Rb) have been detected over the entire 500m strike length. Assay results are expected shortly. Manindi also has an existing JORC 2012 Resource estimate of 1.08Mt at 6.52% Zn, 0.26% Cu and 3.19g/t Ag.

Metals Australia trades on a market cap of A$54 million.

Lithium South Development Corporation (TSXV: LIS | OTCQB: LISMF)

Lithium South Development Corporation (Lithium South) is already quite advanced at their 100% owned Hombre Muerto North Lithium Brine Project in Argentina. The Project lies near several billion-dollar projects such as Livent’s lithium mine, Allkem’s Sal de Vida project, and POSCO’s quite new project purchased for US$280 million. Hombre Muerto is the premiere salar in Argentina, known for very high grade lithium and very low impurities.

The Hombre Muerto North Project has an M&I Resource of 571,000t contained LCE, with an excellent grade of 756mg/L, and a very low Mg/Li ratio of 2.6:1. Drilling is about to begin at their Alba Sabrina claim with results to follow most likely later in Q2, 2022. The Resource has potential to grow significantly from here.

Lithium South trades on a market cap of only C$68 million.

Winsome Resources Limited (ASX: WR1)

Winsome Resources is a lithium explorer focused on their 4, 100% owned, projects spread over 50,000 Ha in Quebec, Canada. The Projects are Cancet, Adina, Sirmac-Clappier, and Decelles (option to acquire 100%).

The flagship Cancet Lithium Project has had outstanding previous drilling success and boasts a JORC Exploration Target of 15-25Mt @ 1-2% Li2O + 100-250ppm Ta2O5. The past drilling includes 59 holes for 5,216m averaging ~70m drill depth defining a shallow high-grade lithium deposit. Drilling will continue in 2022 with a substantial maiden Resource estimated expected later this year.

Winsome Resources trades on a market cap of A$66 million.

Summary of Winsome Resources 4 lithium projects in Quebec, Canada

Source: Winsome Resources company presentation

Closing remarks

Investing in early-stage lithium juniors carries higher risk and reward.

Of the 5 companies discussed in this article three (Essential Metals, Green Technology Metals, Lithium South Development Corp.) already have a lithium resource, one (Winsome Resources) has defined a lithium deposit with a resource estimate due later in 2022, and the other (Metals Australia) has a graphite and a zinc-copper-silver resource with an exciting lithium project with drill results out soon.

I could also include Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) in this group, but I already wrote on them recently here, discussing their lithium projects, lithium resource, and plans for a JV lithium refinery in Thunder Bay which were given a huge boost recently as you can read here.

Finally to answer Elon’s question: “Can more people please get into the lithium business?” The problem is it takes at least 5-10 years to build a lithium mine from scratch. I will finish with two key quotes last month from lithium market experts:

  • Benchmark Mineral Intelligence was quoted stating: “Battery capacity is currently growing at twice the speed of lithium raw material supply.
  • Mr. Lithium, Joe Lowry was quoted stating: “I believe there will be a day in the future when lithium is in oversupply, but it won’t be in this decade…..You can build a battery factory in two years, but it takes up to a decade to bring on a lithium project.”

Disclosure: The author is long ALL the lithium companies mentioned in this article and intends to hold long term.