Can Avalon Advanced Materials ride the lithium tidal wave?

Lithium miners have been the best performing sector of almost every sector of the stock market over the past year. This has been due to a ‘tidal wave’ of new lithium demand as electric vehicle (EV) sales dramatically increased over the past year. For example global electric car market share more than doubled from 4.2% in calendar year 2020 to 8.7% in the month of June 2021. This has led to a surge in lithium demand and subsequently lithium prices in 2021.

Lithium prices (1 year chart) have risen rapidly due to a massive demand increase from booming EV sales

Source: Trading Economics

One under the radar lithium junior is Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) (“Avalon”). Avalon has six projects, providing investors with exposure to lithium, tin and indium, as well as rare earth elements, tantalum, cesium and zirconium. Avalon is currently focusing on developing their Separation Rapids Lithium Project near Kenora, Ontario, while looking at several new project opportunities, one being a lithium hydroxide (and other materials) refinery in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. They are also working to advance their Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum Project, in Ontario, Canada.

Separation Rapids Lithium Project (100% owned; Ontario, Canada) + possible lithium battery materials refinery (Thunder Bay, Canada)

Avalon completed a PEA of their 100% owned Separation Rapids Lithium Project in 2018, resulting in a pre-tax NPV8% of $156 million, post tax IRR of 22.7%, CapEx C$77.7 million with a 20 year mine life.

Then in March 2021, Avalon announced a Letter of Intent (“LOI”) with Fort William First Nation (“FWFN”) to collaborate on the development of a lithium battery materials refinery located on industrial lands owned by FWFN in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As stated in the announcement: “This facility would be designed to accept lithium mineral concentrates from Avalon’s Separation Rapids Lithium Project (70 km north of Kenora) and Rock Tech’s Georgia Lake Lithium Project (145 km northeast of Thunder Bay), as well as potentially other emerging, new lithium mining operations in northern Ontario, to produce lithium hydroxide and other lithium battery materials.”

Then in May 2021, Avalon reported that their recent process testwork using dense media separation (“DMS”) technology had proven to be successful at producing a high-quality petalite lithium mineral concentrate (4.0% – 4.2% Li2O) from their Separation Rapids Lithium Project. The concentrate is suitable for the needs of specialty glass-ceramic end-users. As a result, Avalon is now looking at acquiring their own DMS equipment so they can more quickly meet the needs of the many end-users that have expressed interest over the years in their petalite product samples. Avalon will also resume exploration work this summer on the western part of the Separation Rapids property to further work towards growing their resource.

Avalon Advanced Materials Separation Rapids Lithium Project – PFS & PEA completed

Source: Company presentation

Announced in July 2021, Avalon is now in active discussion to potentially progress their lithium materials refinery in Thunder Bay. The release stated: “On the lithium battery materials market development work, Avalon continues to engage with potential customers looking for new supply sources and are in active conversation with one group in Europe. With a firm commitment on off-take, Avalon can then proceed with its plans for establishing a lithium refinery in Thunder Bay.”

Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum Project (100% owned; Ontario, Canada)

Avalon’s Lilypad Property, located 150 km northeast of Pickle Lake, Ontario, is an exploration stage project with cesium-tantalum-lithium mineralization. It has some potential to be a secondary lithium supply source for Avalon, however, cesium and tantalum are the key products for now.

In July 2021 news, Avalon stated: “Following the closing of the recent flow-through financing, an exploration work program was initiated in June on its 100% owned Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum Project involving re-establishing a field camp and new grid on the property in preparation for detailed mapping and geochemical sampling to commence later this month. Additional cesium mineralized rock was collected from the Pollucite Dyke for continued process research on techniques to efficiently concentrate the rare cesium mineral pollucite, which continues to be in high demand. Drilling is planned for later this year.”

Avalon Advanced Materials project pipeline

Source: Company presentation

Closing remarks

As evidenced by a recent record lithium spodumene spot market price achieved this past week of US$1,250/t (around 3x the contract prices from 12 months ago), there is now a new realization that lithium supply is critically low. This means it is a great time to be a lithium miner and it generally acts to boost the sentiment of the sector thereby helping lithium juniors raise capital and hopefully reach production.

Avalon Advanced Materials is not only a junior lithium miner, as they have a total of 6 projects across multiple critical metals and rare earths. Key critical metals Avalon has are lithium, tantalum, cesium and zirconium; all are on the list of U.S critical materials. The Company trades on a market cap of only C$52 million. One to watch.




Developing critical materials for the green economy in a sustainable way is the Avalon Advanced Materials’ highway

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) is a new breed of resource company that places environmental stewardship at the top of the list of priorities as opposed to it being an afterthought. The Company has embraced the principles of sustainability as core to its business practice and has made a strong commitment toward implementing corporate social responsibility best practices and recently secured a top 5% ESG Risk rating amongst its peer companies from Sustainalytics.

Avalon is a Canadian mineral development company that operates primarily in Canada with a focus on the metals and minerals for use in clean energy and new technology including lithium, rare earths, cesium, tin, indium, gallium, germanium, tantalum and zirconium. The Company is in various stages of developing three of its five mineral resource properties with particular emphasis on lithium, cesium and rare earths.

Avalon’s most advanced project is the 100% owned Separation Rapids Lithium Project, located in the Paterson Lake Area of Ontario. The Separation Rapids deposit is a potential source of lithium minerals for use in the glass and ceramics industry as well as lithium compounds for the battery industry. The company completed a Pre-Feasibility Study in 1999 to produce petalite (the predominant lithium mineral at Separation Rapids) for glass-ceramics. A new Preliminary Economic Assessment model was created in 2016 to produce lithium battery materials, which was subsequently updated in 2018 based on new glass-ceramic markets. The simplified business model with initial focus on lithium mineral concentrates for glass and ceramics has an initial CAPEX of C$77.7 million (475,000 tpa mill capacity) for a 20 year operational life with average annual revenues of C$90 million and average annual costs of C$60 million for an NPV pre-tax (8% discount rate) of $156 million and an IRR (pre-tax) of 27.1%.

Building on the Separation Rapids opportunity, Avalon recently announced it has entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Fort William First Nation (FWFN) to collaborate on the development of a lithium battery materials refinery located on industrial lands owned by FWFN in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This facility would be designed to accept lithium mineral concentrates from Avalon’s Separation Rapids Lithium Project (70 km north of Kenora) and Rock Tech’s Georgia Lake Lithium Project (145 km northeast of Thunder Bay), as well as potentially other emerging, new lithium mining operations in northern Ontario, to produce lithium hydroxide and other lithium battery materials.

Another example of what makes Avalon different than most resource companies is the binding LOI signed in February for four industrial minerals properties and a demonstration-scale processing plant located at Matheson, Ontario to process the tailings from a historic phosphate mining operation at the site. Work done has demonstrated that the tailings contain phosphate levels ranging from 15-20% P2O5 and can be sold “as is” for use in various agricultural fertilizer products. Additionally, analytical work done on the tailings indicates the presence of significant concentrations of rare earths, scandium and zirconium, which preliminary tests indicate will be recoverable through additional processing. The phosphate-rich tailings are already generating revenues and additional processing of the tailings could provide significant potential for future revenue growth. This is a great example of Avalon’s core values working in harmony. The company gets access to a closed mine site with potential to recover critical minerals like rare earths from the mine wastes, while remediating the long term environmental liability.

Avalon is a leader among mineral developers in adopting best practices to reduce its environmental footprint, prevent water contamination and engage with local communities. This focus gives Avalon a strategic advantage when it comes to securing grants, funding and partnerships with governments and First Nations, let alone the evolving investment community. Aligning the company with its stakeholders’ values reduces risk and creates opportunities like the Fort William First Nation LOI. Just remember, it’s not easy being green, but it can be profitable.




Positive market response for critical materials focused Avalon Advanced Materials’ Lind Partners funding deal

Blink and you will miss it. Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) has had that kind of a week, starting with the good news of securing a $3.0 million convertible security funding agreement with an entity managed by The Lind Partners, a New York based asset management firm. The market loved that, with the share price popping up. Some of that increased valuation has since come out of the share price, but it does not diminish the potential fortunes for the company and their multi-pronged resource strategy.

The convertible security has a two year term and will accrue a simple interest rate obligation of 10% per annum on the funded amount, which is prepaid and attributed to its face value upon issuance, resulting in a face value of $3.6 million. Lind will be entitled to convert the face value amount over a 24 month period, subject to certain limits, at a conversion price equal to 85% of the five day trailing volume weighted average price of Avalon’s common shares prior to the date of conversion. The convertible security matures 24 months after closing. Avalon has the right to repurchase the convertible security at any time, subject to the holder’s option to convert up to one third of the face value into Avalon common shares prior to this repurchase. Lind will also receive a closing fee of $90,000, and 9.8 million common share purchase warrants. Each warrant entitles the holder to purchase one common share of the Company at a price of $0.18 per common share until 48 months after closing.

That’s a lot of technical information, but it is important to appreciate that Avalon now has a funding partner and a built-in future financing over the next 4 years as well as a significant new shareholder.

Avalon has the best of both worlds, being a mineral development company focused on metals and minerals for use in clean energy and new technology. The company now has four advanced stage projects, providing investors with exposure to lithium, tin and indium, as well as rare earth elements, tantalum, cesium and zirconium.

The use of proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate the planned work program for the company’s Separation Rapids lithium project near Kenora, Ontario and cover near term working capital requirements. Next steps at Separation Rapids involve extraction of the 5,000 tonne bulk sample of the petalite mineralization for pilot plant processing to recover product samples for customer evaluation and finalization of the lithium hydroxide battery materials process flowsheet. The company is presently looking at two alternatives for pilot plant processing of the bulk sample. In parallel, the company will begin working on the feasibility study for its planned lithium battery materials refinery in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The company announced an agreement in late 2020 to collaborate on the development of this refinery with an industry partner, Rock Tech Lithium Inc. to produce lithium sulphate, a precursor chemical for lithium-ion batteries.

The Separation Rapids lithium project is 100% owned by Avalon, is located close to transportation (road access) and power infrastructure, including clean hydropower. According to the company, there are no undesirable environmental impacts and it has strong local community support. This is a very significant deposit as petalite is the predominant ore mineral – it can be used to both make high strength glass (smashed a cellphone screen lately….?) as well as being a high purity feed to make battery grade lithium hydroxide or carbonate.

The second business of the company is in the rare earths. Avalon has a 3% Net Smelter Royalty on the shallow zone of the Nechalacho Property and a 100% interest in the deep zone at the Thor Lake deposit in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The project is on-track to produce rare earths in 2021. Shallow zone project development could lead to economies of scale to allow for future development of Avalon’s deep rare earths deposit as well, the company has positioned itself well in the cleantech and rare earths space.




Don Bubar of Avalon Advanced Materials talks about the surge in interest following the Rock Tech LOI

Don Bubar, President and CEO of Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF), talks to InvestorIntel’s Tracy Weslosky about Avalon’s recent surge in stock price and volume after announcing their letter of intent with Rock Tech Lithium to collaborate on the development of a North American lithium process facility.

Avalon’s announcement has attracted a lot of industry attention. “This is the fifth media interview I’ve done to talk about that news release,” Don told Tracy. “Avalon and Rock Tech have long been aspiring producers of lithium from resources in northern Ontario,” he continued, “and we had this shared vision of how this centrally located processing facility would make a lot of sense for us to collaborate to create different lithium products and serve different markets.”

“The demand for lithium battery materials is escalating,” he continued, “with plans to establish EV and battery manufacturing capacity here. The interest is building all the time and is accelerating now with government policy,” Don told Tracy. “And the push for more rapid adoption of electric vehicle technologies is obviously creating new demand with government providing incentives to get these new facilities started.”

Don went on to describe how with Rock Tech’s German-based management’s connections in Europe, this arrangement to collaborate on a new lithium process facility will help Avalon grow its business both in Europe and North America.

Don Bubar is recognized as one of the global experts on rare earths and lithium in particular, and sees an exciting “opportunity to put a processing facility in a central location close to transportation infrastructure and access to market for the product.”

In the interview Don also provides an update on Avalon’s Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Property, and its deal with Australia’s Vital Metals. “They are pretty much ready to go,” he said, as soon as pandemic conditions allow. “The idea all along is for them to take advantage of the small, relatively easy to process resource called the T-Zone,” he continued, “and once you get that production and supply chain started then we could be in a position to scale it up.”

To watch the full interview, click here.

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Disclaimer: Avalon Advanced Materials Inc., Inc. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.




Avalon Advanced Materials Separation Rapids Lithium Project progresses, EV investors look north for critical materials

It is not very often that an investor can buy a company with exposure to both lithium and key magnetic rare earths. One company that offers exposure to both is Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) (‘Avalon’). Avalon has five critical materials projects across Canada, providing investors with exposure to lithium, rare earths (neodymium, dysprosium), cesium, tantalum, feldspars, tin and indium.

With the electric vehicle (EV) boom set to take off, companies such as Tesla are planning to grow EV production by 50%pa reaching 20 million new EVs pa by 2030. At Tesla Battery Day Tesla suggested an aggressive industry wide target of 10TWh of Li-ion batteries pa by 2030 to meet EV demand (assumes a switch to 100% EVs).

Tesla says that’s a 100 fold increase on 2019 levels. This suggests demand for EV metals (such as lithium and the magnetic rare earths) looks likely to surge this decade and create a super-cycle for the EV metal miners.

100% electric transportation requires 100x growth in EV battery production this decade

Source: Tesla Battery Day video

Avalon’s focus projects for lithium (Separation Rapids, Lilypad) and rare earths (Nechalacho)

Source

Avalon’s Separation Rapids Lithium Project is located 70 km by road north of Kenora, Ontario, Canada. It holds one of the largest “complex-type” lithium-cesium-tantalum pegmatite deposits in the world. A PEA was completed in 2018 resulting in a pre-tax NPV8% of $156m, post tax IRR of 22.7%, CapEx C$77.7m with a 20 year mine life. In a recent news Avalon has been doing metallurgical test work with the overall objectives of reducing costs, improving recoveries and optimizing lithium product quality. Avalon has previously developed a proprietary process flowsheet to produce a high purity lithium hydroxide product from petalite. The process limits waste by recycling of the sulphuric acid solvent. Avalon and partners are now optimizing the final stages of the process, which involves the use of electrolysis to produce lithium hydroxide. The results will enable finalizing equipment selection and design. A further 2,500 tonne bulk sample extraction program is set to commence next. With Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently announcing Ontario’s interest in establishing new battery materials supply chains in the province, Avalon is investigating collaborative opportunities to establish a lithium processing facility in Northwestern Ontario.

Avalon’s Lilypad Cesium Property, located 150 km northeast of Pickle Lake, Ontario, is an exploration stage project with cesium-lithium-tantalum mineralization. It has the potential to be a secondary lithium supply source for Avalon. Avalon has recently re-activated the Project due to increasing demand for cesium. Planned follow-up work will initially involve mineralogical and analytical testwork, which will be followed by metallurgical process testwork to identify the most efficient methods for concentrating the pollucite ore and recovering by-product tantalum and lithium.

Avalon’s flagship Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Property is located at Thor Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada. Avalon’s main focus is the deeper HREE Basal Zone at the property. The Basal Zone retained by Avalon contains a rich polymetallic rare metals resource, with potential for economic recovery of several rare earth elements. A Feasibility Study was completed in 2013 on the Basal Zone resulting in a pre-tax NPV10% of $1.35 billion (post-tax NPV10% of $900m). The post-tax IRR was 19.6%. CapEx was $1.575b. Sales of the five critical REO (neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium) account for over 82% of the separated REO revenues. Avalon has also retained a 3% NSR on the near surface T-Zone and Tardiff Zone at the Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Property, bought by Cheetah Resources back in 2019. Avalon could also potentially collaborate with the newly planned SRC Rare Earths Processing Facility to be established in Saskatchewan with plans to be operational by late 2022.

EVs are coming in all shapes and sizes and they will require huge amounts of EV metals such as lithium and rare earths

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. stock is up 87.5% over the past year and trades on a market cap of C$26m.




Don Bubar on Avalon’s 20 years in rare earths and their diversified asset base of critical materials

“We have been in rare earths business for over 20 years now,” Don Bubar, President, CEO and Director of Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF), tells InvestorIntel’s Tracy Weslosky in an interview. “And we are very well known among investors in the US for our lead role in the rare earths bubble 10 years ago. Whenever there is new development and news headline related to the risk on security of supply, then you will see speculative trading activity in Avalon.”

“Our strategy has been to have a diversified asset base,” Bubar continued. “That gives us exposure to broad range of these new emerging critical materials. We are basically positioned to react to when there is a new demand in the marketplace.”

Bubar went on to say that Avalon is working with a partner on its Nechalacho rare earth elements property and has maintained its main resource for any future upside. “We continue to look at other possibilities to create new rare earths supplies, by looking at how we can use new technology to recover rare earths from non-traditional sources such as historic mine wastes,” he said.

Bubar also commented on Avalon’s Separation Rapids Lithium Project: “Our focus now is on taking advantage of the opportunity in lithium markets. We are permitted now to recover a bulk sample to finalize our process flowsheet, do a pilot plant run and produce some product samples for customers who have expressed interest in the product in the glass industry as well as start to revisit serving the battery materials market going forward.”

To access the complete interview, click here.

Disclaimer: Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.




Rare earths company jumps 38.46% yesterday as the world searches for a NA supply

As good news continues to flow for the rare earths sector, today I look at one of the recent best performers, whose stock was up 38.46% yesterday as they led the pack of rare earth companies higher. Impressively, the stock is up 80% so far in 2020.

Avalon Advanced Materials leads the pack as the rare earths miners make a comeback

Source: InvestorChannel’s Rare Earths Watchlist Update – July 27, 2020

What has caused the surge in prices for western rare earth miners?

The recent price surge appears to be due to a combination of factors, all positive for rare earths:

These are in addition to several other Acts currently before the US Senate, such as:

Added to all of this the US Department of Defense recently said that it will seek $1.7 billion to purchase rare earths in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. You can read more on the three Acts here.

With this extremely favorable backdrop, today I take a look at yesterday’s star performer Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF).

Avalon is focused on critical minerals and cleantech materials including rare earths, lithium, tantalum, cesium, cobalt, nickel, tin, and others with near term production potential. Avalon has a very large project pipeline of promising, mostly development stage projects including:

  • Their flagship Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Property (Thor Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada) with a 3% NSR on on the near surface T-Zone and Tardiff Zone bought by Cheetah Resources, and the 100% owned HREE Basal Zone. The Basal Zone retained by Avalon contains a rich polymetallic rare metals resource, with potential for economic recovery of several rare earth elements. A Feasibility Study was completed in 2013 on the Basal Zone resulting in a pre-tax NPV10% of $1.35 billion (post-tax NPV10% of $900m). The post-tax IRR was 19.6%. CapEx was $1.575b. Sales of the five critical REO (neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium) account for over 82% of the separated REO revenues.
  • Their Separation Rapids Lithium Project (70 km by road north of Kenora, Ontario) holds one of the largest “complex-type” lithium-cesium-tantalum pegmatite deposits in the world. A PEA was completed in 2018 resulting in a pre-tax NPV8% of $156m, post tax IRR of 22.7%, CapEx C$77.7m with a 20 year mine life. You can read a company update here. Currently Avalon is working on optimizing the process flowsheet and producing new petalite product samples for glass-ceramic manufacturers.
  • Their Lilypad Cesium Property (150 km northeast of Pickle Lake, Ontario) is an exploration stage project with cesium-lithium-tantalum mineralization.
  • Their Warren Township Feldspar Project (100 km west of Timmins, Ontario) hosts a significant resource of high purity anorthosite, consisting of up to 98% high calcium plagioclase feldspar. The PFS was completed in 2003.
  • Their East Kemptville Tin Project (45 km northeast of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia) with a PEA completed in 2018.

Avalon Advanced Materials’ project pipeline are all located in North America

Source: Company investor presentation

Since Avalon did not release any new news in July, I can only conclude that yesterday’s 38.46% stock price surge was related to the very positive rare earths market news from the U.S. government and European Commission reported on July 24 as I discussed above. The fact that Avalon surged more than the rest is likely due to their lower market cap resulting in greater leverage to the positive rare earths news. Certainly having a low market cap and a very significant local Canadian rare earths project with a pre-tax NPV10% of $1.35 billion would go a long way in explaining the potential ahead. Most companies would trade on ~20% of the post-tax FS value. In this case that would mean ~20% of $900 million or ~$180 million. Even allowing for the large CapEx, using 10% of the $900 million would suggest a market cap of $90 million. The Feasibilty Study costs alone were ~$60 million. Also this does not include any value for the other projects. Avalon is trading on a market cap of just C$31 million.

Closing remarks

The good thing about western rare earths companies is they actually do better if US-China relations get worse. This is because of the implied threat that China may one day cut off or severely restrict their rare earths supply to the US as they did before to Japan.

Rare earths stand to be one of the biggest winners of the new economy this decade as the world continues to decarbonize and moves towards using powerful magnets for electric motors used in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Investors wanting broad exposure to multiple rare earths and critical materials should consider Avalon Advanced Materials. Avalon gives investors exposure to four advanced stage projects and one exploration stage project – with exposure to lithium, tin, cobalt, indium, beryllium, niobium, cesium, zirconium and tantalum, as well as the rare earth elements, neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.