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What does the replacement of the Australian Strategic Materials CEO mean?

Australian Strategic Materials Ltd. (ASX: ASM) has accomplished the execution of a business model first described by Canada’s former Great Western Minerals and then appropriated by the (second) American Molycorp, neither of which could ultimately pull it off – the vertical integration of a critical mineral producer from the mine to the finished mass-produced product ready for end-user product fabrication.

For ASM the first integrated production will be of rare earth metals, titanium, and zirconium, the mineral supply chain for each of them originates with the company’s Australian mining operation, and the final processing to metals is done in a Korean joint venture, already proven at the pilot plant level and with a full-scale plant being contracted for with Hyundai Engineering.

I have no doubts that the entire output of ASM’s Korean operations will be sold into the Korean market. The sister company of Hyundai Engineering, Hyundai Motors, is already mass producing a low-cost battery powered EV, which needs rare earth permanent magnet electric motors made independently of Chinese critical metals.

The Korean nuclear power industry needs zirconium (and its sister metal, hafnium [also to be produced by ASM in Korea]) for the cladding of fuel rods. And the Korean domestic armaments industry needs rare earth permanent magnet motors and titanium for its aircraft and shipbuilding (Korea’s first full-scale aircraft carrier is now being planned).

ASM, having now structured its total supply chain for critical metals, just last week installed a new CEO, its former COO, Rowena Smith, who has almost 30 years of global mining experience in strategic planning and mineral processing with senior mining corporations, including roles at South 32, Rio Tinto, and BHP. Previous CEO David Woodall abruptly stepped down from his roles and left the company.

It’s important at this point to understand the significance of the replacement of now former CEO, David Woodall, by former COO, now CEO, Rowena Smith. Those who plan wars, or even battles, rarely carry them out. During David Woodall’s tenure, the vertical integration of ASM was planned and the component ventures were acquired, modified and themselves integrated. During that time Rowena Smith, as COO, familiarized herself with the plan, helped to implement it, and took over the day-to-day operations of the system as it matured. She has overseen areas of the Dubbo project and the Korean Metals Plant. Last week the board of the company determined that ASM was ready for her operationally-experienced and skilled management to assume overall control, and the management change was implemented.

ASM is now the first non-Chinese company to complete a vertically integrated business model from the mine through to the production of high purity critical metals for the EV, shipbuilding, aerospace, and nuclear industries.

ASM is Australian-owned and sited, and its first customers are in Korea.

The rest of the non-Chinese mining and processing world should look closely at this success and emulate this model.




Iluka Resources looks to join exclusive club of rare earths producers

Iluka Resources Limited, (ASX: ILU) an Australian mineral sands company, is poised to add rare earth elements to its portfolio of products. The company’s main products are zircon, titanium, plus iron and carbon materials from its processing plants in Australia. It also has recently announced the de-merger of its Sierra Leone company, Sierra Rutile Holdings Limited, to end up with two ASX listed companies.

The plan announced by Iluka is to start concentrating monazite and xenotime in the second half of this year from its mineral sands operation in Western Australia. Cracking and leaching will begin next year followed by separation to produce rare earth oxides in 2024 at Eneabba, Western Australia, which is a 3 hour’s drive north of Perth. According to public company information, the planned output is 17,500 tons per year of Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO). They note the plant will have a full capacity of 23,000 TPY of TREO with all circuits fully utilized. It is reasonable to assume that they are looking for additional monazite to fill their plant as the capacity is more than they can produce themselves.

Based on the feed rate of 17,500 TPY TREO Iluka expects to produce 4,000 TPY of Nd/Pr plus 500 TPY of Dy/Tb. Typically, Dy:Tb ratio varies from 2:1 to 5:1. At today’s pricing of $135/kg USD for Nd/Pr oxide, Dy oxide at $362/kg USD, and Tb4O7 at $2.056/kg USD, Iluka’s annual revenue could be in the range of US$1 billion.

The projected capital costs are AU$170-200 million for the cracking and leaching, and AU$320-390 million for the separation and finishing. Additional costs include plant and infrastructure AU$110-140 million plus indirect costs, contingency, commissioning and miscellaneous costs of AU$400-470 million for a total of AU$1-1.2 billion. According to the company, there will be support from the Australian government in the form of a loan from the government’s Critical Minerals Facility fund and a risk-sharing agreement that would include non-recourse debt, royalty payments to Iluka, and flexibility in repayment schedules.  This is what is necessary to get these projects off the ground – government support and vision to see that risk sharing is very important.

Raising this amount of capital in the markets today is a challenge and also very dilutive as their current market cap is AU$3.8 billion.  An advantage Iluka has over many other planned entrants into the rare earth space is their existing cash flow from current operations, as it will take time to generate revenues from this operation after construction begins this year and until the first output is expected to be seen in 2025.

Source: Iluka Company presentation, April 4, 2022

Based on using their existing stockpile at Eneabba, Iluka could produce 12,400 TPY TREO with an operating cost of AU$13/kg or about US$10/kg which is competitive with Chinese costs. I am assuming they put no value on the feed material as it is in a stockpile.  They have not included any transfer costs from other sources in their expanded production estimates with other sources of feed. The stockpile feed would produce 2,700 TPY of Nd/Pr or about half of the capacity of 5,500 TPY of Nd/Pr. This stockpile would be exhausted in 9 years, so they are actively looking for other sources to fill the plant.

One question that is not clear is whether they will take a Molycorp plant design approach or the Lynas approach.  Molycorp originally designed a single train 20,000 TPY TREO capacity. Lynas built four 5,500 TPY TREO trains so that if supply or demand changed, or there was a problem in one train, they did not lose all their production.  This came to light over the COVID era when demand dropped.  This is a major consideration of any new plant design as economies of scale are limited or offset by potential operational problems.

Overall this may well be one of the players to cross the finish line in the race for more production of rare earths outside China.




In-house production key to making Energy Fuels the world’s lowest cost producer of rare earth metals

Energy Fuels takes giant step towards complete, in-house, vertical integration in the production of rare earth permanent magnet alloys

Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU | TSX: EFR) has just this week announced that it will buy, subject to due diligence, a huge Brazilian deposit of heavy mineral sands, which it will mine to produce a concentrated mineral mix that will contain zircon, ilmenite (titanium), and monazite. This concentrate is expected to be sold to partner companies, which will extract the zircon and ilmenite as payables, and the residual monazite, a waste product in zircon/ilmenite processing, will be conveyed at a nominal cost (as part of the arrangement to supply the heavy mineral sands to partners) to Energy Fuels’ White Mesa, Utah, where the monazite will be cracked and leached to extract a clean rare earth content as a mixed carbonate and to extract and sell or legally dispose of its uranium and thorium content.

Energy Fuels is already buying, and processing monazite produced in the above way from the zircon/ilmenite operations of Chemours in Georgia, but the Brazilian purchase will allow Energy Fuels to diversify and lower its cost of monazite concentrates.

The in-house production of monazite rich heavy mineral sands by Energy Fuels will be the foundation of its program for the vertically integrated (in-house) production of rare earth metals and alloys from (in-house) separated and purified individual and blended rare earth salts.  

Energy Fuels operates the only operating uranium processing “mill” in the United States and the only facility in the United States in the U.S. capable of processing monazite for the recovery of uranium for sale to nuclear power plants, and the recovery or legal disposal of the thorium and other radionuclides associated with monazite. 

The company has already begun processing purchased monazite into a mixed rare earth carbonate, and currently has the capacity to produce thousands of tons of such mixed rare earth carbonates per year. Energy Fuels’ mixed carbonate is the most advanced rare earth product being produced at a commercial scale in the U.S. today. The company is also making major strides in producing separated and refined individual and blended rare earth products at its mill.

Comparatively, monazite contains up to 50% more of the recoverable core magnet metals, neodymium and praseodymium than the bastnaesite mined at Mountain Pass, California.

Energy Fuels is finalizing a scoping study for a dedicated, rare earths, solvent extraction separation system and is finalizing the commercialization of a new rare earth metals and alloys production process demonstration.

Within 24-36 months Energy Fuels has the potential to be the world’s lowest-cost producer of separated individual rare earths and will therefore the lowest cost producer of rare earth metals and alloys. No government subsidies have been needed. Just managerial knowledge, experience, and skill. 

Energy Fuels already is a major domestic supplier of uranium and vanadium In fact, the company announced at its AGM, earlier this week, that it has signed a decade long supply deal with two American utilities to provide them with more than 4,000,000 lbs of uranium. This contract will bring in more than USD$200,000,000 over its life. 

Energy Fuels is a producing and growing domestic American critical metals processing hub.

Disclosure: Jack Lifton is a member of  the Advisory Board for Energy Fuels Inc., and may hold securities or options in some of the companies mentioned in the above article.




Russia’s War, Supply Chain Turmoil and What It Means to You

What a week! Last Thursday, Russia invaded Ukraine. Then this week global supply chains went crazy, with skyrocketing price moves and a global-scale sense of worry about where it all leads.

I won’t dwell on war news, meaning stories and imagery from front lines. It’s tragic and painful to witness, and no doubt you follow events.

But definitely, it’s worth discussing the economic impacts of the war. In particular, consider the almost immediate commercial isolation of Russia that’s now taking shape with a wide array of sanctions on Russia’s government, her banks, businesses and people.

This is an entirely new page for the world economy. And what’s happening is not as easy as just saying, “Russia is bad so let’s punish her.” Sad to say, though, that’s where much thinking across the world is focused. Do something. Make it fast. Think about it later.

Another way to say it is that Russia is a major, global-scale source of key energy and industrial resources. These range from products straight from the well like crude oil and natural gas, to refined hydrocarbons like gasoline, diesel and chemicals. Plus, Russia produces a vast array of industrially critical elements, again ranging from ores and concentrates to highly refined and processed alloys.

For example, as Russian sanctions kicked into play over the past few days the price of oil pulled up into a strong climb, with Brent Crude hitting $114 per barrel at one point. This reflects market uncertainty over future access to Russian exports. Meanwhile, one sees stories of tanker-loads of Russian oil going “no bid” because traders are uncertain about the legality of even making an offer. It’ll sort out, more or less. But for now, it’s a serious mess.

Other important commodities with a Russia-trade angle are also rising in price. Wheat futures are soaring to two-decade highs, according to market tracking services. And lumber futures are up sharply as well, reflecting concern over diminishing Russian supply.

Other materials rising in price include aerospace-grade aluminum, now at record levels according to a market follower with whom I spoke earlier. Meanwhile, a significant fraction of the world’s aerospace grade titanium – about 60% by some calculations – comes from Russia.

Or consider spot prices for other widely used, critical industrial elements like copper, nickel and uranium. All have a strong Russia supply angle, and all are at 10-year highs, per trading data.

You get the picture, right? Literally, overnight, anti-Russia sanctions have created uncertainty over future supplies of key energy resources and metals.

Meanwhile, share prices for important Russian producers have collapsed. Consider just two key companies in the Russian investment space, gas producer Gazprom (OTC: OGZPY) and metals producer Norilsk Nickel (OTC: NILSY). Both companies’ share prices have tumbled in recent days, as you can see here:

Is there an investment angle? Well, the possibilities are many and depend on your risk tolerance.

For the truly bold, the collapse of Russian share prices creates a contrarian setup. If you are aggressive, and perhaps a bit crazy, feel free to wade into the selloff and buy shares of Norilsk and Gazprom. Of course, we don’t yet know what will happen as events unfold, so the “buy low” idea could also lead to even more losses, of not a complete wipeout. You’ve been warned.

Or frame it this way: Russia now has a very significant level of what’s called “war risk” in everything that has to do with its investment climate. Perhaps there’s an upside in the not-too-distant future, but for now the entire space is a very dangerous place to be for most investors.

The safer investment idea is to focus on U.S. and Canadian names that work in the resource space that’s affected by Russian sanctions. Of course, there are many names out there ranging from small exploration plays to large and mighty companies.

For example, let’s look at nickel. Large nickel producers include Brazilian play Vale (NYSE: VALE), as well as Swiss-based Glencore (OTC: GLNCY) and Australia’s BHP Group Ltd. (NYSE: BHP). These names have global operations and everything you would want in a major player. If customers need nickel and cannot obtain it from Russia and Norilsk, they can buy it from these other guys.

On the much smaller, exploration side, though, my strongest play is a Canadian junior operating in Montana, called Group Ten Metals Inc. (TSXV: PGE | OTCQB: PGEZF). This company is relatively early stage in its efforts, but with significant progress on the books. The play is focused within the well-regarded Stillwater District, where the company holds a massive land package. Exploration has already revealed extensive mineralization in copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, silver and even chrome. It’s a superb asset (I’ve visited the site and seen the mineralization), with strong technical and management talent.

It’s also worth noting that Group Ten holds lands directly adjacent to Sibanye-Stillwater, Ltd. (NYSE: SBSW), currently producing minerals in the region. This situation makes it more likely that Group Ten can eventually obtain necessary mining permits and move towards development and production.

To sum up, we can’t do anything about the tragic war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the anti-Russia sanctions are a massive, international phenomenon, again out of our hands. But already these dynamics have set up severe supply chain issues, all based on just a few days of history being made. And more disruptions are, no doubt, in the pipeline as events unfold and politics play out.

Finally, looking ahead the world is not simply on a glide path to a new version of the Cold War. No, Western nations are on the path to a “Commodity War” scenario, firmly embedded inside the looming political, economic and perhaps military confrontations. In this sense, holding real assets – including ores in the ground – is critical to your investment future.

On that note, I rest my case.

That’s all for now… Thank you for reading.

Best wishes…

Byron W. King




Australian Strategic Materials demerger from Alkane Resources unlocks shareholder value

Australian Strategic Materials Limited (ASX: ASM | ASMMF) (“ASM”) is the result of  Alkane Resources Ltd. (ASX: ALK | OTCQX: ALKEF) demerging their Dubbo rare earths and poly-metallic project in late July 2020 to form a new listed company. The combined market cap of Alkane Resources and ASM now exceeds its previous value as a single company, showing that the demerger achieved its goal of unlocking shareholder value.

The key assets of the newly-listed Australian Strategic Materials (“ASM”) include:

  • The Dubbo Project (flagship) is a 100% owned ‘construction ready’ poly-metallic and rare earths project with potential to become a key global supplier of specialty metals and rare earths. The Dubbo deposit is a proven, large deposit of Zr, REE, Nb and Hf minerals
  • Metals Technology Business – ASM is investing in new technologies related to the separation, purification and metallisation of oxides. Their JV pilot plant with ZironTech is now in operation.
  • Toongi Pastoral Company – The company owns 3,500 hectares of freehold and leasehold land 25kms south of Dubbo, NSW, Australia.

What’s happening now with Australian Strategic Materials

ASM’s strategy is to not only produce rare earths concentrate but to go further up the value chain and produce various strategic metals. Should ASM succeed, it would place them in that exclusive club in the mining industry of being an alternative strategic high value metals producer outside of China.

To achieve this goal of producing metals from their Dubbo Project, ASM is working with their Joint Venture (JV) partner, South Korea’s Zirconium Technology Corporation (“ZironTech”). The JV is now advancing a pilot project to produce various metals by combining their proprietary process with ZironTech’s metallisation technology. ASM has exclusive global commercialization rights under the licence. The pilot plant is now up and running in South Korea.

 

Australian Strategic Materials plans to move up the rare earths and strategic materials value chain

Source

The latest progress in pilot testing the extraction of strategic metals:

July 2, 2020 – ASM/ZironTech JV produces titanium metal alloy with a 45% power saving. The commercial pilot plant was commissioned on time and on budget, with ~30kg of titanium metal alloy produced. A subsequent run of the pilot plant produced another 22kg of titanium metal alloy, with up to 50% less energy than current commercial production methods. Then in August ASM reported that their JV produced 9.16kg titanium (Ti) metal powder assaying 99.83%.

July 13, 2020 – ASM/ZironTech JV produces high quality neodymium (Nd) metal alloy, with successful laboratory production of ~1kg of neodymium metal alloy.

ASM & ZironTech produce a ~1kg of neodymium (87%) metal alloy using their 45% more efficient reduction process at their pilot plant

Source

August 19, 2020 – JV produces second key permanent magnet metal, praseodymium (Pr). Commercial pilot plant produces 5.3kg Pr metal assaying 99.3%. JV announces a forward plan for commercial pilot plant production of neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium metal in August.

ASM & ZironTech produce 5.3kg of high purity praseodymium metal (99.3%)

Source

“This is a major milestone in ASM’s integrated strategy that includes clean metal production for all products from the development of the Dubbo Project in Central West NSW”, according to ASM’s Managing Director, David Woodall. “This integration of metal production into ASM’s business is consistent with the Australian Government’s objective of adding value within Australia, while ensuring supply security and stability of these critical materials to global and domestic Australian manufacturing sectors.”

The Dubbo Project is a large resource of zirconium, hafnium, niobium, and rare earths (including praseodymium, neodymium, and yttrium). It is the most advanced poly-metallic project of its kind outside China. The Project has an estimated 70-year mine life and can be an open pit design. The Project is ready for construction with all major state and federal approvals and licenses in place. The 2013 DFS resulted in a pre-tax NPV8% of A$1.235 billion, and a pre-tax IRR of 19.3%. The Company has since proposed a two stage production start up so as to lessen the first stage CapEx from an estimated US$930 million to US$480 million. A follow up FS plans to incorporate the new and improved processing techniques from their ZironTech JV.

Closing remarks

Rare earths are not rare in the earth’s crust, however extracting and purifying them is the challenge that has traditionally been an expensive and polluting process, mostly done in China. What ASM and their JV partner ZironTech are doing is revolutionizing the process of rare earth metals production, using much more energy efficient methods that are also less harmful to the environment. It is still early days with their pilot plant testing however results so far with titanium, neodymium, and praseodymium appear to be highly promising.

Effectively ASM is working towards becoming a vertically integrated (“mine to metal”) western producer of high purity strategic/critical and valuable metals. Subject to further testing and funding the plan is to have clean metal processing plants in Korea and Australia. More efficient processing techniques should significantly improve the economics of ASM’s Dubbo Project as well as opening up the opportunities for wider commercialization of their breakthrough technology.

The market seems to agree. Australian Strategic Materials’ stock price has doubled so far in August and ASM is now trading on a market cap of A$264m.




The future looks bright for zirconium

The most important metal you never heard of

“Zirconium is yet another example of an obscure critical material with great potential in new technology where China controls the supply chain.” – Donald Bubar, President & CEO at Avalon Advanced Materials Inc.

Zirconium is a relatively obscure but important element that is finding increasing application in a range of new technologies. It is most commonly found in zircon (ZrSiO4), an industrial mineral used directly in many high-temperature applications. Zirconium in its many forms is now an essential part of cell phones, nuclear plants, dialysis machines, paint, ceramics and catalytic converters.

Zirconium was discovered in 1789 but it took 35 years to isolate the element.  It took another 100 years before a pure zirconium metal was produced. With a high specific gravity, zircon is commonly found with other heavy minerals in deposits of prehistoric beach sands. It is usually a byproduct of mining these sands for titanium. Heavy mineral sand resources are found in several parts of the world with much of the historical production coming from South Africa and Australia. There is another rarer zirconium ore mineral called baddeleyite (Zr02) presently only recovered from an iron ore mine in Russia. As with many technology metals, the challenge of zirconium is in the economic processing of the mineral concentrates, not in mining the resource. Much of this processing is currently being done in China.

The ceramic pigment market was the main early driver for the development and production of zirconium chemicals of various types. After World War II, the ceramic/refractory industry became interested in zircon and zirconium oxide while the Department of Defense focused on the pure metal of zirconium.  The driver behind the need to produce a pure zirconium metal on an industrial scale was to supply the military with alloys of magnesium and zirconium.  The second major military market development for pure zirconium metal was for cladding fuel rods for both the nuclear navy reactor as well as for civilian nuclear power stations.

There are at least three things that use zirconium in this photo – the ceramic mug, the cellphone and the wall paint.

Today some of the many applications for different zirconium compounds include kidney dialysis, coated paper (frozen food packaging), pigment coating (Ti02), paint driers, and thixotropic paints (paints that are free-flowing and easy to apply while being brushed on, but quickly reset into a gel).  As industry has gained a better understanding of the chemistry, it has been able to move into the growing market of advanced ceramic/oxide applications. Some applications of zirconium ceramics are  piezo electrics (spark ignitors, sonar devices, and ultrasonics), thermal barrier coatings (turbine blades), solid electrolytes (oxygen sensors, fuel cells), and catalysts (cracking of petroleum, catalytic convertors).

Demand for zirconium and the appeal of producers will continue to grow, and because of its unique physical and chemical properties it will find application in many new growth technologies, including more efficient and environmentally-friendly clean technologies. It won’t take long before its critical importance is appreciated.




Neometals Chris Reed on the cost advantage of making Zeolite

“In terms of zeolite and making it, which is an engineered material out of our spodumene leach residue, it can potentially be a cost advantage. We have certainly made what is called a Type A and numerous types of zeolites. They are used in industrial purposes as catalysts, absorbents, etc. We are doing the engineering studies. We have got M&W looking at the operating and capital costs for that. We hope that can reduce our costs of production of lithium hydroxide in time.” States Christopher Reed, Managing Director of Neometals Ltd. (ASX: NMT), in an interview with InvestorIntel Corp. CEO Tracy Weslosky.

Tracy Weslosky: Chris thanks so much for doing this interview with me on what zeolite is. I have Neometals. You have been following your lithium, nickel, titanium, vanadium and recently Matt Bohlsen was talking about how you will be recycling for cobalt. In particular you just put out a news release about zeolite. Why don’t you start by giving us an overview on what that news release actually means? Then you can talk to us about what zeolite is please. 

Chris Reed: Sure Tracy. In terms of zeolite and making it, which is an engineered material out of our spodumene leach residue, it can potentially be a cost advantage. We have certainly made what is called a Type A and numerous types of zeolites. They are used in industrial purposes as catalysts, absorbents, etc. We are doing the engineering studies. We have got M&W looking at the operating and capital costs for that. We hope that can reduce our costs of production of lithium hydroxide in time.

Tracy Weslosky: Let me understand. This comes from lithium. Is that correct? 

Chris Reed: It is actually what is left after we dissolve the lithium out of the spodumene.

Tracy Weslosky: Okay. You have managed to find an interesting byproduct of lithium. I am reading your news release it says it is going to reach a $16.28 billion market by 2022. Could you tell us a little bit more? Where did we get this number from for instance?

Chris Reed: We bought a marketing study. There are plenty of big multinationals in the zeolite market. Another term for them is molecular sieves. You can actually use these minerals as molecular sieves to remove moisture from gas, to remove impurities from gas to purify oxygen, etc.

Tracy Weslosky: Is there a reason we have so many companies everywhere splattering the playing field of our stock portfolios with the world lithium in them, but I am pretty sure none of them are using the word zeolite or perhaps I have not been looking for it. Can you tell me, are you just closer to production than many of your competitors or can you explain to me a little bit more because we as shareholders are actually quite interested in this byproduct you have?

Chris Reed: Sure. Traditionally all the lithium conversion has been done up in China. They basically take the residues and give it to cement manufacturers to make concrete out of. In Australia we are having a look at something smarter to do with the residue, examining exactly what it is and can we make a value-added product to reduce our cost because reducing our cost is pretty much the only long-term strategy that we can use in the lithium business. We have got Mt Marion where we are making concentrates. We are looking at building a lithium refinery project to make lithium hydroxide and we have got the battery recycling. All of that is to get the highest revenue per lithium unit at the lowest cost…to access the complete interview, click here

Disclaimer: Neometals Ltd. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.




Neometals’ Chris Reed on building a lithium battery recycling plant

“Our most immediate corporate move is to recommend to the shareholders to demerge our titanium-vanadium assets away from the lithium business. Mt Marion is very mature. It is generating cash. We are now looking to build a down streaming lithium hydroxide plant, a lithium battery recycling plant. They have got their own capital needs. Barrambie is a far, far bigger resource by value, but not as developed so we are not getting value for that in the current portfolio. We will separate that out first.” States Christopher Reed, Managing Director of Neometals Ltd. (ASX: NMT), in an interview with InvestorIntel Corp. CEO Tracy Weslosky.

Tracy Weslosky: Here we go again. You just keep hitting one benchmark after another, one milestone after another. On top of that, for the last several years you have been— I have got here, 3 consecutive dividends in the last financial years. Do I have that information correct? Please correct me. 

Chris Reed: That is correct Tracy. We have returned about $20 odd million to our shareholders in 3 consecutive dividends.

Tracy Weslosky: Being in this space I never hear about any other company doing this in this particular market valuation. Can you tell me what makes you different? Why are you doing this for your shareholders or how can you do this? 

Chris Reed: Our moto is we are a business. I measure the success of a business by giving back more than you take off people. We managed to sell some equity in the Mt Marion mine a number of years ago, which gave us a very, very healthy cash balance far in excess of what we needed to spend. Prudent returns back to the shareholders is one of the things we pride ourselves. You have got to remember that the board of management is the largest shareholder in the company so we are very well aligned to sharing the gains that we do make.

Tracy Weslosky: I know we love this here at InvestorIntel. Can you tell us when you plan on listing in North America or plan on doing a dual listing?

Chris Reed: Our most immediate corporate move is to recommend to the shareholders to demerge our titanium-vanadium assets away from the lithium business. Mt Marion is very mature. It is generating cash. We are now looking to build a down streaming lithium hydroxide plant, a lithium battery recycling plant. They have got their own capital needs. Barrambie is a far, far bigger resource by value, but not as developed so we are not getting value for that in the current portfolio. We will separate that out first. We have an American depository receipt program on the Pink Sheets and the NASDAQ International Designation. For us we think that the shareholders prefer— they will own the same amount in each project, but in two companies.

Tracy Weslosky: This was just put out in a news release just a month ago. I believe I read that you would have completed this demerger in March/spring of next year. Is that correct?

Chris Reed: Yeah, certainly. Look we have got to put our financial results out by the end of September. We will have a bit more information around the demerger. We have to have all our documents to the shareholders at least 4 weeks before the annual general meeting, which is at the end of November. We hope to complete that early pending approval in the March quarter, early in the March quarter of 2019.

Tracy Weslosky: You always put out such comprehensive news releases. You had one more recently about being able to produce commercial grade zeolite…to access the complete interview, click here

Disclaimer: Neometals Ltd. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.




VanadiumCorp CEO on mitigating the cost and eliminating carbon footprint of vanadium production

March 27, 2018 – “We actually go directly into solution whereas every other producer creates an oxide that is impure and a very high cost to turn into an electrolyte. By the recovery of the co-products, iron and titanium, we are able to mitigate our cost. Our pure mandate and our goal was to eliminate the cost of producing vanadium and eliminate the carbon footprint, which we feel we have done.” states Adriaan Bakker, President and CEO of VanadiumCorp Resource Inc. (TSXV: VRB), in an interview with InvestorIntel’s Jeff Wareham.

Jeff Wareham: Adriaan you guys have just had some huge news. Let us start right with the good stuff. 

Adriaan Bakker: Sure. We just filed our international patent on a technology that we have been developing and scaling; invented just over 15 months ago. We had a breakthrough in processing magnetite resources, which are the ultimate source for vanadium. Spent the last 10 years developing those resources to realize that existing processes are basically outdated, inefficient, low yield, high capex, and just not a favorable route to go down.

Jeff Wareham: A lot of our investors have heard about vanadium and that there is an opportunity in the market, but may not know a lot about it. What do we need to know about the vanadium market? 

Adriaan Bakker: The biggest opportunity in the vanadium market is really in energy storage. We identified some key facts in the vanadium market. Number one being vanadium electrolyte that is required by batteries is a non-existent commodity. It is created by an offshoot of production from the steel industry from this inefficient type of production. There is just not enough vanadium available to go into energy storage.

Jeff Wareham: When we were talking a little bit before you said that, but you also said that you thought you guys were going to change that. Tell me why you feel that way.

Adriaan Bakker: Sure. The new process for us was addressing, not only industry challenges and a potential solution for our own resources, but really we found that it is a direct recovery for vanadium electrolyte in the form of vanadyl sulfate. We actually go directly into solution whereas every other producer creates an oxide that is impure and a very high cost to turn into an electrolyte. By the recovery of the coproducts, iron and titanium, we are able to mitigate our cost. Our pure mandate and our goal was to eliminate the cost of producing vanadium and eliminate the carbon footprint, which we feel we have done. 

Jeff Wareham: In this market right now everybody is talking about battery metals and energy metals and so on. What kind of energy storage does vanadium help solve? 

Adriaan Bakker: The energy storage technology is pure vanadium-based technology. You effectively have a battery technology that is already deemed to be the most sustainable form of energy storage because 80% of the battery is vanadium electrolyte. The positive and negative of the battery, the anolyte and the catholyte are both vanadium electrolyte so you do not have any cross contamination. You effectively have the ability to take an electrolyte that never degrades at the end of life of battery, which is 30 to 50 years because there is no degradation, no cross contamination, out of that battery at the end. We are not talking about recycling. We are talking about infinite reuse of the electrolyte. You already have that sustainability factor. The ugly secret in the vanadium industry is that vanadium is produced with a similar carbon footprint to steel; 2 tons of carbon per 1 ton product. It is incredibly expensive and inefficient…to access the complete interview, click here

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