A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element: Manganese to Emerge Among Battery Metals

– February 19th, 2020A.I.S. Resources CEO Martyn Element

A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element joined INN at to discuss his company’s progress in the manganese market, the future of electric vehicles and the dominant trends that are most likely to shape the resource industry moving forward.

A.I.S. Resources (TSXV:AIS,OTCQB:AISSF) Chairman Martyn Element joined the Investing News Network at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference to discuss his company’s progress in the manganese market, the future of the electric vehicle market and the dominant trends that are most likely to shape the resource industry moving forward.

A.I.S. Resources recently completed sourcing and shipping an order of manganese to send to a client in China. The 292 dry metric tons of manganese were assayed at 53.66 percent by the purchaser following shipment.

According to Element, the move towards electric vehicles has created significant demand for manganese, lithium, copper and other metals commonly used in rechargeable batteries and the vehicles themselves. Despite the potential in similar industries, Element maintains that A.I.S. Resources is focused on the manganese industry. However, there is potential for a new company to be created by A.I.S. as an investment issuer moving forward.

Below is a transcript of our interview with A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Investing News Network: What is the name of your company, what is its symbol, where would we find you and which market?

A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element: We are on the TSXV and have been around since 1968. We’ve never been consolidated and never been rolled back. The company is an investment issuer, A.I.S. Resources, and our symbol is AIS.

INN: And you’ve been around for a little while.

ME: I’ve personally been around for a little while; I was a broker in the early 1980s in corporate finance. I finished up with a local firm here as Director of Corporate Finance for Pacific International. I had a client that was beginning to take a lot of my time so I went full-time with the client and that was called Clearly Canadian. I found them their first money and I found all the money for Clearly Canadian, which, of course, went from 50 cents to C$31 a share. So I left Pacific International and went on my own in corporate advisory and corporate finance.

INN: For those who don’t know what manganese is, why is this an important element as we move into the green sector?

ME: It’s not a well-followed metal, but it’s beginning to be now as it’s starting to come into vogue. There’s quite an accomplished fellow who is a director over at Canaccord — he has a deal called Euro Manganese that he’s going to be producing from a tailing situation just outside Prague, and he’s going to be producing manganese in 2024. He’s capped at about C$30 million I think, so it’s significant money he’s got. He’s single-handedly putting manganese a little bit more on the map. Manganese is used as a strengthener in steel traditionally, but it’s now beginning to be used more in futuristic car batteries. Manganese and cobalt are two of the metals that are being integrated into these longer extended batteries.

Manganese is starting to get the spotlight and cobalt is beginning to get the spotlight as well. We looked at the lithium market and lithium had quite a significant correction. With all these new cars coming out, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more lithium in the future. However, we looked at manganese and we decided that we didn’t want to mine it, we didn’t want to get involved in that, but we saw an opportunity to start getting involved in the trading of manganese. So we shipped our first manganese as a company about two months ago now, and we are expecting to have news of that shipment soon. There’s a learning curve, but it was a small amount relatively speaking. We shipped 400 tonnes of product which is still 21 or 22 containers, so it was a lot of work but we got it done and we hope to be in a position to announce that shortly. We’ve now discovered that in this marketplace to be a meaningful player will require a minimum of 5,000 tonnes.

In the last three weeks, we’ve written up two contracts for 5,000 tonnes. One was with a very large company, a $9 billion corporation called Erdos out of China. Another was with a company that we haven’t announced yet, so we’re awaiting clarification on that. Then just in the last three or four days, we’ve written a contract up for 50,000 tonnes.

Peru is not the country for that sort of quantity. So we’ve now gone further afield and we’re now sourcing in Zambia and indirectly into Tanzania and Brazil with larger amounts because for those sorts of quantities you’ve got to be able to have the supply. My CEO is a very accomplished fellow, he’s a mineral adviser in Australia, he’s one of 12 men in Australia considered in such high esteem, so he’s very qualified in all metals. He’s doing a lot of the sourcing and we are going to be the agent on these trades. To give you an idea about the money involved, on a 5,000-tonne order, our revenue at the end of the day would be just over US$1,000,000, so there’s a lot of money at stake here.

We’re all very excited about what we’re doing. We’re getting a reputation, we’re new guys, but we’re not without a resource and we’re not without players in the world and they are looking. One of the reasons there’s been a delay with our shipment is that the price of manganese went down and now it’s coming right back to where it was six months or nine months ago, which is more than holding its price, so it’s a nice place to be.

INN: Do you foresee demand for more battery power?

ME: That’s coming. People like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and these big companies are starting to get a little nervous. They’re forward buying products like manganese and lithium of course because they don’t want to get caught. When the wave comes, it’s going to be bigger than anybody would ever estimate.

INN: You touched on lithium as one of the commodities that you’re still in. Where is your lithium project at?

ME: We went into Argentina and we drilled three properties. We hit lithium on all three, but we didn’t get the parts per million. So, we didn’t get it. Millennial Lithium (TSXV:ML,OTCQX:MLNLF) did. They drilled less than 30 kilometers from one of our wells and they hit but we didn’t; it was a mother nature situation.

Now they’ve just recently changed the government again in Argentina and things are getting out of control a little bit there with inflation, the new president and a lot of the business philosophy. So, we’ve kept some key personnel in Argentina and we’re closely monitoring the situation. We’re not walking away, we’re just keeping it close. So we’re keeping our hand in but we’re not going after anything at the moment in the lithium field, we’re focusing on manganese.

INN: What are your connections like in Asia? Who do you have as a representative that’s out helping to tell your story in those complex marketplaces?

ME: The people we met in Montreal are employed close to the Chinese government and they have been incredible. We have two ladies working for us who have been successfully sourcing supply for us. I have a very close personal relationship with a very famous racing car driver, Emerson Fittipaldi from Brazil. He has told me that he’s very keen once we have a track record of success. He’s been working in China with the two biggest car manufacturers in China and the largest car manufacturer in Korea, which is KIA (KRX:000270). He said, “Martyn, when the time comes, I will take you and we will go together to meet the guys that run these plants but we have to have the success of a few things.”

So I have a few options through him. I’m going to put an advisory board together in the coming months along with some fund manager friends of mine out of Australia. We’ll have Emerson, of course, heading up the advisory board as well and I think it’s all going to come together really nicely.

INN: How important do you see manganese being in the future development of automotive batteries?

ME: Mercedes Benz is buying forward, buying lithium and other metals as we speak and they have to because the world is waiting for the explosion of cars. They’re coming on now fast and furious, with the Volkswagen (OTC Pink:VLKAF,FWB:VOW) Golf, even Volvo is going 100 percent electric by 2025. I’ve driven an electric car now for three or four years and I absolutely love it. My last car was an exotic; I had an Aston Martin DB9 Volante and it was a beautiful car. But then it was just too fast and I didn’t need it, so I’ve got an electric vehicle, a Nissan (OTC Pink:NSANY,TSE:7201) Leaf, and I love that car. Now I’m looking at the Jag, the new SUV electric that they have.

INN: Right. You’re connected to other markets as well aren’t you?

ME: Yes, yes. Well, all markets. We’re covering a lot of different things with gold through our endeavors in Peru. After two or three months, a group brought us a really nice gold property that is producing gold from two veins. Philip Thomas, a certified Mineral Valuer and Geo Scientist with the Australian Institute of Mineral Valuers and Appraisers, went out and had a close look at the property and he thinks there’s potential there for the swarming of veins that could reveal 12 to 18 veins, but it needs a little bit of money spent on it. We’ll earn our way up to 50 percent on a cash-flowing small gold mine.

There’s a county in the world that has changed all its mining laws and we’ve been working closely with some representatives there on very, very big projects in the gold world. But I don’t want to confuse investors. We have geared towards manganese. If we do something in a big way in gold, we won’t do it directly. Because of the way A.I.S. is structured, we can put an umbrella over a big deal coming in and we can vend it out quite successfully. Then you take the shareholders from A.I.S. and they get a piece of the action as we give birth to another company.

INN: OK, for somebody at home watching right now. What is my investment opportunity with you at the moment?

ME: You’ve got a company that’s capped at C$3.5 million, which of course is nothing these days. The major shareholders in A.I.S. are very big players because of my reputation and where I’ve been and they’re all staying in there, hanging in at five cents. So I think as we close on some of these bigger manganese transactions, the stock is just going to go up, very substantially and very quickly. It’s an opportunity to put some investment into the current situation and be ready for significant developments very, very shortly.

We’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the players and we’ve got the pedigree with me and my successes. I’m watching the market and I’m thinking you can’t ignore gold right now. I’ve got a lot of people who’ve said to me, “Look, if you do something, we’ll do something significant with you as well.” So, I’m very confident. As I’ve stressed, we will be managing, we won’t be mining, we’ll be creating another company within A.I.S. as an investment issuer.

INN: Wonderful, thank you very much.

ME: Thank you for a great interview. Thank you.

A.I.S. Resources: A New Gold Prospect + Manganese Trading + Li Extraction Technology

Peter EpsteinStreetWise Reports – Contributed Opinion

Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports  (12/11/19)
Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a company that is reinventing itself as moderately diversified battery metals company.

Manganese

In the midst of tax loss selling across many sectors—not just battery metals (lithium, cobalt, manganese, vanadium, etc.) but cannabis/hemp segments as well (and most other metals/mining/mineral sectors)A.I.S. Resources Ltd. (AIS:TSX.V; AISSF:OTSQB) recently announced good news. Is the market ignoring ongoing positive developments at the company?

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Management has successfully arranged for the supply of up to 30k tonnes/month of high-grade (48%–52%) Manganese (Mn) to China and is embarking on a trial shipment of 5–10k tonnes. Reaching this significant tonnage (which is not a sure thing) has been a consistent goal since April/May. If A.I.S. achieves 20k–30k tonnes/month, it would be an excellent outcome, assuming it can consistently deliver in that range.

Management has arranged the Mn sourcing with two African suppliers, and is negotiating a supply agreement with giant, multi-billion dollar Erdos Group, one of the world’s largest buyers of Mn. A.I.S. has issued a term sheet for a trial shipment of 5–10k tonnes, expected in January. The fact that Erdos is willing to work with A.I.S. is an impressive vote of confidence in the management team.

The trial shipment will reportedly gross ~US$2 million, subject to a final delivered grade of ~50% Mn. A.I.S. will be responsible for all logistics, including quality control, assays, shipping and related activities.

Additional suppliers from Brazil and Panama, among other places, have approached management about selling ore into A.I.S.’ trading strategy. Negotiations are underway. Importantly, detailed discussions are being held with trade and project financiers from London, Dubai and Canada to facilitate payments for the purchase and shipment of Mn ore to China. Although a risk factor, management believes that obtaining trade financing will not be problem.

This news comes on the heels of another positive development, but one that failed to capture investor’s need for instant gratification. On October 24th, management locked down an option to acquire an initial 51% interest in a gold mine in northern Peru. The mine is currently producing small quantities of gold.

After completing due diligence and determining the extent and concentration of gold mineralization, A.I.S. will contribute US$500k worth of equipment and technical expertise to increase mine productivity. Low-cost due diligence efforts will focus on drilling, soil sampling, mapping and design of a process circuit. The target is 8–10 vein systems with up to 5,000 tonnes of ore in each, grading 10g/t Au or better.

Investors have questions about this new gold project: How long will it take to do proper due diligence? Will A.I.S. need to raise additional equity capital? Company-wide funding is a concern; management needs to come up with trade finance for Mn trading, cash or a gold loan for the new gold project, and US$1 million for a 15% investment in a private lithium extraction technology company.

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Readers may recall that on October 8th, A.I.S. signed an option agreement with Ekos Research, requiring an investment of US$1 million, for a 15% stake in a breakthrough lithium solvent extraction process that produces lithium chloride with 99.2% purity, but more importantly can manage high-magnesium bearing brines found in salars in Argentina like Rincón and Salinas Grandes.

Rapid lithium extraction (without solar evaporation ponds), with high recoveries and purity levels, and a strong environmental profile, is the holy grail. There are dozens of technologies in the works, but none (that I’m aware of) are operating at full commercial scale anywhere in the world.

Management gave me an example of a 20,000 tonne per year lithium carbonate plant that could reduce its cap-ex from $560 million to $210 million by using this new technology. With no evaporation ponds, the process can easily be turned on and off, and there’s no ground water issues.

How far will US$1 million take this emerging technology? While I have respect for the A.I.S. technical team being able to expertly evaluate a promising lithium extraction technology, it could take years to reach meaningful cash flow (net to the company’s 15% interest).

Ekosolve is building a semi-commercial scale demonstration plant for under US$1 million, so the cash contributed by A.I.S will go directly into this demonstration plant with a nine-month build. I’m told there is at least one producer having their brines tested now.

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Is management spreading themselves too thin? The company is now reportedly pursuing three projects at once; lithium technology, manganese trading and a gold joint venture, spanning several countries (Peru, Australia, Tanzania, China). Management doesn’t think so, and they’re only actively spending on Mn trading at the moment. Gold project due diligence costs are said to be minimal.

CEO Phil Thomas has more than 17 years’ experience in lithium technologies being highly qualified in geochemistry especially lithium, worked for more than 15 years in trading ores and has explored and operated five gold mines, with eight staff in Peru and two in China. Phil is based in Australia.

Yes, the shares of A.I.S. Resources remain highly speculative, but the upside potential is bigger than ever before. Can a company with a $3.8 million market cap (83.4 million shares at $0.045) move its Mn project forward over the next 3, 6, 12 months without massive equity dilution?

I like the diversification here, Mn, Au (gold) + a Li extraction technology. Management saw the decline in lithium prices and prudently dropped their Guayatayoc lithium project. Consider the difference in pricing of lithium (down a lot) and gold (up moderately). A year ago, A.I.S. was solely an Argentina lithium brine play. If management had not branched out into other sectors, the company would be dead in the water like many others in South America’s Lithium Triangle.

If all goes according to plan, which is rarely the case for somewhat complex logistical operations, A.I.S. has the opportunity to become cash flow positive within six months. I think it’s great that cash flow from Mn trading could be deployed into a gold project rather than a lithium brine story in Argentina.

Although the avoidance of further equity dilution is very important to the management team, readers should probably assume some equity issuance as a necessary evil. A.I.S. should be able to get by with a modest raise before reaching cash flow break even next year. There’s reason to expect only minimal equity dilution because management believes it can secure trade/working capital financing. The announcement of non-dilutive financing working cap would be a tremendous de-risking event.

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Bottom line, A.I.S. Resources (TSX-V – AIS, OTCQB: AISSF) is worth a lot more than $3.8 million if it can reach 20k–30k tonnes/month of Mn trading. Management has a number of boxes checked in this endeavor, but there are more boxes to tick.

Working with Erdos and sending them a sizable (trial) bulk shipment is great news, but timing is everything. A three-month delay in reaching 20k–30k tonnes/month could make a big difference in the number of shares outstanding.

However, to reiterate, if all goes reasonably as planned, there’s substantial upside from the current $3.8 million valuation.

Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis. He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

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Disclosures: The content of this article is for information only. Readers fully understand and agree that nothing contained herein, written by Peter Epstein of Epstein Research [ER], (together, [ER]) about A.I.S. Resources, including but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, calculations, etc. is not to be considered implicit or explicit investment advice. Nothing contained herein is a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security. [ER] is not responsible under any circumstances for investment actions taken by the reader. [ER] has never been, and is not currently, a registered or licensed financial advisor or broker/dealer, investment advisor, stockbroker, trader, money manager, compliance or legal officer, and does not perform market making activities. [ER] is not directly employed by any company, group, organization, party or person. The shares of A.I.S. Resources are highly speculative, not suitable for all investors. It is assumed and agreed upon by readers that they will consult with their own licensed or registered financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

At the time this article was posted, Peter Epstein owned no shares of A.I.S. Resources and the Company was an advertiser on [ER].

Readers understand and agree that they must conduct their own due diligence above and beyond reading this article. While the author believes he’s diligent in screening out companies that, for any reasons, are unattractive investment opportunities, he cannot guarantee that his efforts will (or have been) successful. [ER] is not responsible for any perceived, or actual, errors including, but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, financial calculations, etc., or for the completeness of this interview or future content. [ER] is not expected or required to subsequently follow or cover events & news, or write about any particular company. [ER] is not an expert in any company, industry sector or investment topic.

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A.I.S. Resources Delivers 150 Tonnes High-Grade Manganese Ore in Six Containers to Dockside – for Export to China

Vancouver, British Columbia – A.I.S. Resources Limited (TSX: AIS, OTCQB: AISSF) (the “Company” or “AIS”) announced today that the Company’s initial trial shipment of 150 tonnes manganese ore has arrived at Lima, Peru and has been loaded into six containers. AIS provides the following update:

 Highlights of the Manganese Ore initial shipment include:

  • 150 tonnes of high-grade fines manganese ore has been loaded into six containers to be shipped the week of July 28, 2019.
  • 350 additional tonnes has been bagged at the mine site in preparation for shipping.  
  • Centamin analysis of the 150 tonnes showed an average assay of 49.4% Mn, Fe 0.95%, SiO2 2.4% which is an excellent specification.
  • Manganese Ore has recently sold in the range $233- $250 USD per tonne for 44% Mn content ($5.30-$5.70 USD per percentage Mn)

Short-term target of 10,000 tonnes Manganese Ore per month:
After this initial cargo of 6 containers per week for three weeks, AIS will follow with 40 containers totaling 1,000 tonnes every two weeks from the San Jorge mine. As mining progresses at other locations this will be increased to our short-term target of 10,000 tonnes per month. 

  • AIS is also negotiating additional sales agreements for high-grade fines manganese products with several purchasers who will be receiving the trial shipments.
  • Our Peruvian geologist and General Manager are currently visiting three other mines in the Cajamarca area with the objective of adding lump manganese to the AIS product line.

Figure 1 – the first six containers at dock side, each with 25 tonnes of manganese loaded as part of the first 150 tonnes being shipped the week of July 28, 2019.

Figure 2 – trucks being loaded with manganese ore in bags.

Figure 3 – bagged manganese ore being unloaded from trucks and loaded into containers at the dock.

AIS Resources President and CEO, Phillip Thomas stated, “I am delighted we have completed loading the first six containers, and will be shipping manganese ore the week of 28th July 2019.  We are elated at the grade of the Manganese fines ore our supplier has been able to produce.”

About A.I.S. Resources
A.I.S. Resources Ltd. is a TSX-V listed investment issuer, is managed by experienced, highly qualified professionals who have a long track record of success in lithium and manganese trading, exploration, production and capital markets. Through their extensive business and mining networks, they identify and develop projects worldwide that have strong potential for growth with the objective of providing significant returns for shareholders. The Company’s current activities are focused on the mining and trading of manganese ores in Peru, and exploration and development of lithium brine projects in northern Argentina.

 

A.I.S. Up 42% on Manganese Shipping Update

A.I.S. Resources Ltd. [AIS-TSXV; AISSF-OTCQB] shares rallied strongly Tuesday July 23 after the company released an update on its manganese shipping plans. It said 150 tonnes of manganese ore from a deposit in Peru is ready for shipping to China. The Vancouver-based company said the manganese ore has arrived in Lima, Peru, and has been loaded into six containers, ready for shipping. The company also said 350 additional tonnes has been bagged at the deposit site in Peru in preparation for shipping.A.I.S. shares jumped on the news, rising 41.7% or $0.025 to 8.5 cents on active volume of 1.38 million.  The shares are trading in a 52-week range of $0.04 and 20 cents.

Preparing manganese ore in Peru for shipping overseas. Source A.I.S. Resources Ltd.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after A.I.S. recently said it had commenced manganese trading operations in Peru. In a June 20, 2019 press release, the company said a contract had been signed with a miner and a deposit paid to buy 2,000 tonnes of manganese ore with samples from the mined ore averaging 45% MnO (manganese oxide). At that time, the company said it was finalizing buyer contracts in China.

A.I.S. is aiming to be a low-cost producer of battery materials. Its focus is on lithium and manganese.

Manganese is a key ingredient used in the production of steel, aluminum and battery elements. Currently, steel production accounts for 85% to 90% of manganese consumption. The second largest use of manganese is creating an alloy with aluminum to produce a metal that is more resistant to corrosion. Most aluminum beverage cans contain about 0.8% to 1.5% manganese.

A.I.S. said manganese ore has recently been selling for US$233 to US$250 per tonne.

The company has said its near-term objective is to sell up to 10,000 tonnes of manganese ore per month by trading from small producers. Production will come from two Peruvian manganese deposits, the company said.

After this initial cargo of six containers per week for three weeks, A.I.S. said it will follow with 40 containers totaling 1,000 tonnes every week from the San Jorge deposit. “As mining progresses at other locations, this will be increased to our short-term target of 10,000 tonnes per month,” the company said.

Meanwhile, A.I.S. said it is also negotiating additional sales agreements for high-grade fines manganese products with several purchasers who will be receiving the trial shipments.

“Our Peruvian geologist and general manager are currently visiting three other mines in the Cajamarca area in Peru with the objective of adding lump manganese to the A.I.S. product line,” the company said.

“I am delighted we have completed loading the first six containers, and will be shipping manganese ore the week of July 28, 2019,” said A.I.S. President and CEO Phillip Thomas. “We are elated at the grade of the manganese fines ore our supplier has been able to produce,” he said.

Centamin analysis of the 150 tonnes showed an average assay of 49.4% Mn, Fe (iron) 0.95%, SiO2 (silicon dioxide) 2.4%, which is an excellent specification, the company said in a press release.

Aside from its manganese interests, A.I.S. said it is developing two significant lithium projects, covering 5,225 hectares in Argentina’s lithium triangle.

MGX Minerals Completes TDEM Geophysical Survey at Salinitas Lithium Project – Salinas Grande Salar, Argentina

MGX Minerals Announces TDEM Geophysical Survey at AIS Resources’ Salinitas Lithium Project, Salinas Grande Salar Argentina

Resource World Provides Update on South America’s Lithium Triangle

With the impending advent of the widespread use of electric cars, trucks plus the millions of rechargeable consumer electronic devices that utilize lithium ion batteries, it is no wonder that numerous exploration companies have turned their attention to the vast Lithium Triangle in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. It has been estimated that South America’s Lithium Triangle hosts about 54% of the world’s lithium resources.

Exploring Argentina Lithium & Energy’s 20,500-hectare Arizaro Project in northwest Argentina. Photo courtesy Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp.

Exploring Argentina Lithium & Energy’s 20,500-hectare Arizaro Project in northwest Argentina. Photo courtesy Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp.

Most of the world’s lithium has been produced by an oligopoly of producers – often referred to as the Big Three – Albermarle Corp. [ALB-NYSE], private Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), and FMC Corp.

There are two sources of lithium – hardrock (the mineral spodumene) and lithium brines that formed in desert climates where there is a slow inflow of lithium and other metals and salts but no outflow. Gradual evaporation over thousands of years slowly increases lithium grades to an economic level.

A recent report by Global Market Insights, Inc. concluded that the global lithium ion battery market is set to surpass US $60 billion by 2024 with a global market of 534,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate by 2025. Some lithium mining operations are already producing the world’s lightest metal from brines. In partnership with Toyota Tsusho Corp. and JEMSE, Orocobre has built and is now operating the world’s first commercial, brine-based lithium operation constructed in approximately 20 years. During 2016, Argentina’s two working mines produced 11,845 tonnes of lithium carbonate, or approximately 6% of global output. For 2017, output is about 17,500 tonnes.

AIS-Reaources-Lithium-Triangle-Map

Map shows Lithium Triangle located in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

In Chile, the Salar (Spanish for salt lake) of Atacama, contains about 27% of the world’s lithium reserve base and provides almost 30% of the world’s lithium carbonate supply. Chile is the most advanced country with regards to lithium extraction, followed by Argentina. On the other hand, it is early days for Bolivia. During a recent presentation in Vancouver, Cesar Navarro Miranda, Minister of Mining and metallurgy for Bolivia, told the audience that the mining sector supports 37% of his country’s population. His government is keen to attract foreign exploration and mining companies by offering various incentives as well as political and economic stability.

Argentina, which already produces about 12% of the world’s lithium, is also keen to attract international mineral explorers. At a recent presentation in Vancouver, Ing. Mario Osvaldo Cappello, Undersecretary of Mining Development and Mining Secretariat for the Argentina Ministry of Energy and Mining, said, “Since February 2016, when President Mauricio Macri took power, export taxes on minerals have been eliminated. There’s a unified currency exchange with a streamlined process. The import of equipment for parts and mining are non-taxed and we also have a free flow of currency. In December 2017, Congress enacted two new laws, so all the investments for the construction of a project will have the VAT refund after six months.”

Capello added, “Up to this year, corporate income tax was 35% and there was no rate for dividends. So this year, the corporate income tax rate is 30% and dividends 7% and, as of 2020, that will change to 25% and 13% for dividends when reinvesting in the country.”

Joseph Grosso, a director of Argentina Lithium & Energy, and an officer of Golden Arrow Resources and Blue Sky Uranium, all with projects in Argentina, has been active in the country since 1993. In addition, to being part of a team that made mineral discoveries, he has been a pioneer in developing the Argentine mining industry.

There is a major question that haunts lithium explorers, miners and lithium stock investors. While increasing demand has boosted lithium prices from US $350 to $3,000 per ton in the past five years, there is uncertainty as to how quickly and how much the electric vehicle market will require.

With so many lithium explorers out there seeking economic deposits, plus lithium producers ramping up production, there is no doubt there will be a great deal of lithium supply available. Will that result in an oversupply that will drive lithium prices down? A recent Morgan Stanley report thinks so.

AIS-Reaources-Lithium-Triangle-Photo

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On the other hand, major auto manufacturers such as Volvo, Volkswagen and the China’s BYD are betting on mass acceptance of electric vehicles, each with their 30 kilograms of battery lithium, as vehicle prices come down and range anxiety issues are solved. Here is a pertinent question: if the Tesla Semi electric truck is successful, and other sizes of electric trucks are successful too, could this lead to tremendous worldwide sales of trucks? For example, there are some 15.2 million trucks in the US alone with 2 million of them being Semis. Translate that to the rest of the world and the numbers are huge. So what will lithium demand be as well as the demand for the other battery minerals such as cobalt, manganese, copper and graphite?

Below are details on companies active in South American Lithium Triangle.

AIS Resources Ltd. [AIS-TSXV; AISSF-OTCQB]
AIS reported seismic testing has detected three distinct aquifers over a broad area at its Chiron Project in the Pocitos Salar, Salta Province, Argentina. AIS has also completed the mass balance chemistry and process engineering that will be used to determine the raw materials used to purify the lithium brines from its Guayatayoc Project. The data will be used in the design, engineering, and construction of an 810,000 tonne lithium carbonate plant. The analysis used fractional crystallization and ion exchange resins to purify the lithium carbonate to higher than 99.5% lithium carbonate. The work was conducted in Salta and will be replicated at Guayatayoc to ensure that the reduction in air pressure has no material impact.

Advantage Lithium Corp. [AAL-TSXV; AVLIF-OTCQX] has received encouraging assays from its 75% owned Cauchari Project in Jujuy Province, north-west Argentina, about 20 km south of Orocobre’s flagship Olaroz lithium facility. At a brine flow rate of 19 litres/second, there was 515 milligrams/litre lithium and 4,577 milligrams/litre potassium in hole CAU11 in the SE sector.

David Sidoo, President and CEO, said, “This excellent flow rate and lithium grade in hole CAU11 confirms the potential of the SE sector, with the drilling program continuing to provide additional information on the salar geology and brine both laterally and at depth.” The company has 100% interests in five other projects in Argentina.

Alba Minerals Ltd. [AA-TSXV; AXVEF-OTC] is exploring its 2,421 hectare Quiron II property in the Pocitos Salar, Salta Province, Argentina. The company identified a probable lithium brine aquifer at the road accessible Quiron II property through interpretation of a Vertical Electrical Sounding (VES) survey. Alba has an option to earn a 100% interest in the 2,843 hectare Chascha Norte Project in the southeastern part of the Salar de Arizaro, Argentina, the largest yet unknown Salar in this district.

Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. [LIT-TSXV; PNXLF-OTCQB; OAY1-FSE] has an option to earn a 100% interest in the 20,500 hectare Arizaro Project in northwest Argentina. The road accessible project is near power and rail. Geochemical, electrical surveys and three test holes have been completed. The company has a 100% interest in the Incahuasi Project in Catamarca Province, Argentina with another 10,000 hectares under application. These projects are being prepared for drilling programs.

AIS-Reaources-Lithium-Triangle-Catherine-Hickson

Dr. Catherine Hickson, P.Geo, COO of Dajin Resources Corp., inspecting a weir box during an active flow test of a well at LSC Lithium’s Pozuelos Project in the Puna region, Salta province, northwest Argentina, where LSC has a NI 43-101 compliant resource of 1.3 million tonnes measured and indicated LCE (Li2CO3) plus an additional 0.5 million tonnes inferred LCE. Photo courtesy Dajin Resources Corp

Dajin Resources Corp. [DJI-TSXV; DJIFF-OTC; A1XF20-FSE] has a strategic partnership with LSC Lithium Corp. in Argentina and has over 93,000 hectares of land holdings. Under the agreement, LSC Lithium has access Enirgi Group’s state-of-the art Direct Xtraction Process (DXP) technology for lithium brines The Enirgi Group has a demonstration plant at Salar del Rincon, Argentina that produces lithium carbonate. Surface sampling on the Salinas Grandes LSC/Dajin JV property of San Jose/Navidad has been completed. Surface pit sampling was conducted as part of the first phase of exploration. High grades were confirmed with concentrations ranging from 281 milligrams per litre (mg/L) to 1,353 mg/L lithium, averaging 591 mg/L. A total of 60% of assays were over 500 mg/L lithium and 8% over 1,000 mg/L.

FMC Corp. [FMC-NYSE] reported that its lithium segment earnings were US $44 million for Q4 2017, up 107% versus Q4 2016. The company produces lithium from the Salar de Hombre Muerto salt flat in northern Argentina.

Galaxy Resources Ltd. [GALXF-OTC; GXY-ASX] is advancing the Sal de Vida (Salt of Life) deposit in northwest Argentina, one of the world’s largest and highest quality undeveloped lithium brine deposits with significant expansion potential. In April 2013, Galaxy released a Definitive Feasibility Study which supports a low cost, long life lithium and potash operation. The study estimated a pre-tax Net Present Value of US $645 million (US $380 million post-tax) at 10% discount rate. Sal de Vida has the potential to generate total annual revenues in the region of US $215 million and operating cash flow before interest and tax of US $118 million per annum at full production rates.

International Lithium Corp. [ILC-TSXV; ILHMF-OTC] and JV partner, Mariana Lithium Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd., announced a 2018 budget for continued work at the Mariana lithium brine project in Salta, Argentina. Highlights of the US $17 million budget include continued natural evaporation studies; membrane separation studies; aquifer characterization studies; Preliminary Economic Assessment; and Pre-Feasibility Studies.

Lithium Chile Inc. [LITH-TSXV] has identified a 60+ km2 lithium brine target area at its Helados Project in Chile. The openended, low resistivity zone was discovered by transient electromagnetic surveys within the northwest-trending axis of the Salar Tara Laguna Helada basin. This area displays the same characteristics as the lithium-rich principal aquifers at Salar de Atacama, home to the world’s largest and highest-grade lithium brine mine. The company is preparing for an ini-tial drill program.

LiCo Energy Metals Inc. [LIC-TSXV; WCTXF-OTCQB] is earning a 60% interest in the 160 hectare Purickuta Project and is one of a few “exploitation concessions” granted within the Salar de Atacama, Chile. The property is contained within an existing exploitation concession owned by SQM, and is approximately 3 km north of the exploitation concession of CORFO (the Chilean Economic Development Agency). About 22 km southeast of Purickuta, both SQM and Albemarle have large-scale production facilities within the CORFO concession which collectively produce over 62,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent annually and accounts for 100% of Chile’s current lithium output.

Lithium Americas Corp. [LAC-TSX, NYSE; LACDF-OTCQX] has a 50/50 JV (Minera Exar) with SQM to develop the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in Jujuy, Argentina. The Cauchari-Olaroz pond layout and design have been completed with the pond contractor mobilized at site and production pond construction scheduled to start shortly. Minera Exar has reviewed the development schedule for Cauchari-Olaroz and expects first production to begin in 2020.

Lithium Energi Exploration Inc. [LEXI-TSXV; LXENF-OTC] recently acquired three Argentine corporations, Lithium Energi Argentina, S.A., Antofalla North, S.A., and Antofalla South, S.A., which together hold a portfolio of projects encompassing over 128,000 hectares of lithium brine concessions in Catamarca Province in the heart of the Lithium Triangle, spe-cifically Laguna Caro, Antofalla North and Antofallo South.

Lithium X Energy Corp. has completed a merger with NextView New Energy Lion Hong Kong Ltd. whereby all of the issued and outstanding common shares and warrants of Lithium X were acquired by NextView’s wholly-owned British Columbia subsidiary, NNEL Holding Corp. The company’s 100% owned flagship project is the Sal de Los Angeles lithium brine project, Salta, Argentina. The project comprises about 8,748 hectares of Salar de Diablillos and has a NI 43-101 indicated resource estimate of 1,037,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent and 1,007,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent inferred.

LSC Lithium Corp. [LSC-TSXV; LSSCF-OTC] has filed a Technical Report on the Salar de Pozuelos Project, Salta Province, Argentina. The NI 43-101 resource estimate includes 1,296,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent in the measured and indicated resource category and 497,000 tonnes inferred.

The company has a land package portfolio totaling approximately 300,000 hectares that includes the following projects: Pozuelos, Pastos Grandes, Rio Grande, Salinas Grandes, and Jama. Also, see Dajin.

Millennial Lithium Corp. [ML-TSXV; MLNF-OTCQB; A3N2-FSE] has filed a Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Pastos Grandes Project, Salta Province, Argentina that was prepared by consultants WorleyParsons. The NI 43-101 resource includes 2,131,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent and 8,141,000 tonnes of potash equivalent in the measured and indicated resource categories, plus 878,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent and 3,263,000 tonnes potash equivalent inferred.

Neo Lithium Corp. [NLC-TSXV; NTTHF-OTCQX] has discovered a new aquifer at depth at its 3Q Project in Catamarca Province, Argentina. “It adds considerable blue sky to the 3Q Project,” said Waldo Perez, President and CEO. This season, the company focused on completing infill drilling and getting into the deeper part of the basin. The company also reported that processing studies have achieved concentration levels of 3.8% lithium brine solely through solar evaporation – no costly additives were required, plus calcium chloride precipitates through crystallization and in the process captures water molecules within the crystals – both of these represent important developments for the project.

NRG Metals Inc. [NGZ-TSXV; NRGMF-OTCQB; OGPN-FSE] has awarded a contract for the initial diamond drilling at its Hombre Muerto North lithium project in Salta Province, Argentina, to AGV Falcon Drilling SRL. The initial phase of drilling will consist of three core holes up to a maximum depth of 400 metres depending upon results obtained. Drilling is expected to start early April. The project is located at the northern end of the prolific Hombre Muerto salar, adjacent to FMC’s producing Fenix lithium mine and Galaxy Resources’ Sal de Vida development stage project. The Fenix Mine is the largest producing lithium mine in Argentina and the Sal de Vida Project is the largest devel-opment stage lithium project in the country.

Orocobre Ltd. [ORL-TSX; ORE-ASX] is the newest brine based global lithium carbonate supplier through its flagship operation, Salar de Olaroz. Measured and indicated resources are 6.4 Mt LCE capable of sustaining current continuous production for 40-plus years with only ~15% of the defined resource extracted. Orocobre also has a 35% interest in Advantage Lithium.

Ultra Lithium Inc. [ULI-TSXV; ULTXF-OTC] has received assay results of the second round of sampling work carried out in December 2017 on the Salar Laguna Verde discovery zone in Catamarca Province, Argentina. Assay results indicate lithium values in the range of 34.2 to 1,270 milligrams/litre or parts per million (ppm), magnesium values less than 1 ppm to 7,920 ppm, potassium 804 ppm to 15,800 ppm, and boron 65.5 to 2,190 ppm.

Wealth Minerals Ltd. [WML-TSXV; WMLLF-OTCQB; EJZ-FSE] is completing drilling at the Laguna Verde Project, northern Chile. Bench-scale testwork demonstrated Tenova Advanced Technologies’ process technology could be successfully applied to Laguna Verde brines. Wealth signed a JV agreement with stateowned National Mining Company of Chile (Enami) to develop and commercialize Salar de Atacama and Laguna Verde as to Wealth 90%/Enami 10%. Wealth also holds Trinity, Five Salars and other projects in Chile.

 

Why the Lithium Bears Are Wrong

Will Chile’s Lithium Blockade Send Chinese Buyers to Argentina

LOS ANGELES, April 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ FN Media Group Presents USA News Group News Commentary

USA News Group – The future of lithium production within South America’s prolific Lithium Triangle is in the balance, as Chile has sent a strong message to China that the nation won’t sell off the majority of its lithium stake. Meanwhile, neighbouring Argentina plays catch up by opening itself up more to the global economy in the aftermath of its own far-left hangover.

The result has been heightened by interest in the activities of companies operating in the Lithium Triangle, including Albemarle (NYSE: ALB), Lithium X Energy Corp. (TSX.V: LIX) (OTC: LIXXF), Orocobre Limited (TSE: ORL) (OTC: OROCF), Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE: SQM), and A.I.S. Resources Limited (OTC: AISSF) (TSX.V: AIS).

While on its way out the door, the deposed leftist Chilean government left quite a mess for the incoming pro-business elect to deal with-by summoning antitrust authorities to block the possible 32% purchase of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) by Tianqi Lithium Corporation out of China. The deal was worth a reported US$4 billion, and once ratified, would leave Tianqi and SQM controlling 70% of the global lithium market.

However, the resistance in Chile has somewhat led to a shift of focus toward neighbour Argentina, which shares dominion over the continent’s renowned Lithium Triangle brine basins. There was considerably less resistance when Lithium X Energy finalized the sale of its Argentinean interest in an all-cash deal worth $265 million to Chinese investment firm Nextview New Energy Lion Hong Kong Ltd.

Earlier in its development phases, fellow Canadian company A.I.S. Resources Limited has been aggressively moving forward on its four main lithium projects in Argentina’s Puna region, including its preparation for drilling on the potentially lithium-rich aquifers at its Chiron project that were recently detected earlier this year.

With the lingering uncertainty over how Chile will welcome future foreign investments, there’s good reason to believe that companies like Albemarle (NYSE: ALB), Lithium X Energy Corp. (TSX.V: LIX) (OTC: LIXXF), Orocobre Limited (TSE: ORL) (OTC: OROCF), Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE: SQM), and A.I.S. Resources Limited (OTC: AISSF) (TSX.V: AIS) will be fielding more calls on Argentina properties than the Chilean neighbors.

LEAD-UP TO A LITHIUM STANDOFF
Just days after Chile’s regulatory body in charge of lithium production, Corfo, leveled its recommendation against the Tianqi bid, the Chilean development agency reassured the market by stating that companies from Chine, South Korea, and domestically from within Chile, had been approved to make investments of around $754 million into the country’s lithium industry. However, these approvals would’ve been decided over prior to the March 9th announcement of the Tianqi block attempt.

The Chinese miner Tianqi hasn’t taken this decision lightly, as they have met with Chile’s top anti-trust prosecutor in an effort sort things out. The 32% stake comes from the forced sale on behalf of Canadian fertilizer company Nutrien, which came from the merger of Agrium and Potash Corp. earlier this year.

More Chinese bids are going to come to this region, as the emerging superpower is expected to raise its electric cars production to 7 million units in 2025, up from 1 million last year. Whether deals to secure lithium supplies will all be in the form of the $4 billion deal in Chile, or if it’ll be a smaller deal like the Lithium X deal is still up for grabs.

It’s also likely that Chinese buyers will look to up-and-comers such as A.I.S. Resources to hedge their future supplies, given the junior’s massive footprint across all four of its Argentinean lithium projects. With plenty of blue sky on each project, a partnership or outright acquisition is not out of the question in the future.

THE A.I.S. RESOURCES ACREAGE ADVANTAGE IN ARGENTINA
Boasting four significant lithium projects in Argentina’s Puna region, A.I.S. Resources has secured extremely valuable lithium real estate in the heart of South America’s Lithium Triangle. Located on an elevated plateau that lies east of the Andes Mountains, the Puna Region contains one of Argentina’s largest known lithium deposits.

Spanning approximately 10,457 hectares, A.I.S.s four lithium projects are comprised of Chiron 2,732 hectares, Guayatayoc, 2,500 hectares, Guayatayoc III, 2,725 hectares, and Vilama, 2,500 hectares-All of which are surrounded by large, known lithium deposits, operated by prominent lithium majors.

Guayatayoc – the company’s flagship – already has a mining permit, where A.I.S. will soon undergo a TEM-Electromagnetic survey. A drilling permit on the property is expected to be issued before the end of April 2018. The company’s brain trust knows quite a bit about the property already, having already acquired a 2013 PhD study on the property, bringing with it an exploration value worth approximately USD$3 million, and shaving about three years’ worth of work from their timeline.

A.I.S. has compiled a NI 43-101 report on the project, and has completed an environmental impact study. Samples from the Guayatayoc returned Li ranging from 270-900 ppm from brine ponds with aquifer flow, and an added bonus of 100-190ppm brines sitting in the top layers.

The Guayatayoc Salar shares the same tectonic structure that extends to other well-known salars, such as Salinas Grandes, Pozuelos, Pocitos, and Rincón, which hold the most lithium in the Puna Region.

Probably next on the company’s priority list would be the Chiron Project, which consists of four concessions in the Salar de Quirón in the Province of Salta, that other nearby explorers have shown to contain significant prospectivity.

Plenty of drilling is already planned, as evidenced by CEO Marc Enright-Morin’s public statements that A.I.S. is sufficiently funded to drill both the Guatatayoc and Chiron properties in the coming months. With valuable real estate in close proximity to high-market-cap neighbours that include properties held by Orocobre, SQM, and others companies worth more than $200 million, A.I.S. has the project space, upcoming news flow, and milestones ahead to provide plenty of growth potential looking forward.

Hence A.I.S. is a prime example of the type of company that could entice Chinese lithium buyers either for future purchase agreements of product, a development and production partnership, and/or an outright acquisition in the very near future.

Active miners in the industry also includes:

Albemarle (NYSE: ALBAlbemarle Corporation globally develops, manufactures, and markets engineered specialty chemicals. The company offers lithium compounds, including lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide, lithium chloride, and lithium specialties and reagents for applications in lithium batteries, high performance greases, thermoplastic elastomers for car tires, rubber soles and plastic bottles, catalysts for chemical reactions, organic synthesis processes, life science, pharmaceutical, and other markets; cesium products for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries; and zirconium, barium, and titanium products for pyrotechnical applications. Albemarle Corporation was founded in 1994 and is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lithium X Energy Corp. (TSX.V: LIX) (OTC: LIXXF) Lithium X Energy Corp., is a resource company operating as a lithium explorer and developer in Argentina and the United States. The company owns a 50% interest in the Sal de los Angeles project comprising 8,156 hectares located in Salta Province, Argentina. Lithium X Energy Corp. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

Orocobre Limited (TSE: ORL) (OTC: OROCF) Orocobre Limited explores for and develops lithium and potash deposits in Argentina. Its flagship project is the Salar de Olaroz lithium project located in north-west province of Jujuy. The company also produces boron minerals and refined chemicals. Orocobre Limited is based in Milton, Australia.

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE: SQM) Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A., is a producer of potassium nitrate and iodine. The Company produces specialty plant nutrients, iodine derivatives, lithium and its derivatives, potassium chloride, potassium sulfate and certain industrial chemicals. Its segments include specialty plant nutrients, industrial chemicals, iodine and derivatives, lithium and derivatives, potassium, and other products and services Lithium and its derivatives are used in batteries, greases and frits for production of ceramics. Potassium chloride is a commodity fertilizer that is produced and sold by the Company across the world.

For a more in-depth look into AIS you can view the in-depth report at USA News Group:
http://usanewsgroup.com/2018/01/28/the-worlds-lithium-demand-is-growing-everyday-no-signs-of-slowing/

Article Source: USA News Group http://usanewsgroup.com
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Lithium Miners News For The Month Of March 2018

Lithium spot and contract price news – Lithium spot prices were stable, while 2018 LCE global contract prices are about 20% higher than 2017.

 – Investment advisor, portfolio strategy, growth at reasonable price. Includes: AISSF, ALB, ALTAF, AMVMF, ARYMF, AVLIF, AZZVF, BCRMF

Lithium market news – Lithium giant Albemarle contradicts Morgan Stanley on electric vehicle growth. The EV take-up rate, and therefore lithium demand, will be much greater than MS claims. Lithium company news – The lithium deals continue, following Volkswagen’s stunning $25b battery deal with leading battery manufacturers.

Welcome to the March 2017 edition of the lithium miner news. This past month saw the stunning $25b battery deal between Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY) and Samsung SDI (OTC:SSDIY), LG Chem (OTC:LGCEY), and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd [CATL], as well as the POSCO lithium deal with Pilbara Minerals (OTCPK:PILBF), JR Optimum Nano talks to increase their share in Altura Mining (OTCPK:ALTAF), and CATL’s buy into North American Lithium. It also saw the completion of the Orocobre (OTCPK:OROCF) – Toyota Tsusho (OTC:TYHOY) deal.

Lithium spot and contract price news

During March, 99.5% lithium carbonate China spot prices were again little changed, and are down 1.7% over the past 3 months. Global Lithium Carbonate Equivalent [LCE] contract prices are in the range of USD 13-16,000/tonne.

Lithium China Spot Prices

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/2/26/37628986-15196369259910638.png

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Source: Lithium Americas January 2018 company presentation

Lithium demand versus supply outlook

On February 27, Reuters reported: “Lithium glut? No way, say industry executives eyeing demand. Forecasts for a glut in lithium, a major ingredient in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, fail to account for strong demand and how complicated it is to process and mine, industry executives and analysts said. Forecasts of oversupply also fail to take into account that few lithium processors have the capacity and ability to produce the very high-grade lithium compounds that batteries need, said analyst Andrew Miller at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a UK-based battery metals consultancy. He said he does not see a glut occurring in the next few years although the market could see small surpluses.”