Major Shareholder of Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. Calls for Termination of Mining Directors, Personnel and Projects

    RENO, Nevada, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Lou Schnur, a major shareholder of
 Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:   ALTI), today called on Altair's
 directors to instruct management to immediately sell or mothball its
 chronically unprofitable mining operations and focus exclusively on
 nanotechnology opportunities.
     Altair is a company engaged in developing nanomaterials, titanium dioxide
 pigment technology, and materials science focused on nanostructures.
     Schnur has filed a Schedule 13D with the Securities and Exchange
 Commission outlining generally the views expressed in this release.
     Schnur, a CPA, longstanding Altair investor, and 9.9% beneficial owner of
 Altair's outstanding stock and warrants, said Altair's mining operations
 appear to have generated economic losses of $30 million from 1973 through
 2003.  Also, Schnur criticized the proposed action by Altair to spin off the
 mining operations as a further distraction and waste of corporate assets.
     Schnur said, "The continuing costs to maintain mining personnel and
 operations, together with attendant legal, accounting and shareholder
 solicitation costs necessary to implement a spin-off, are economic losers.
 The assets are carried on Altair's books at zero value, have never produced
 significant revenues, much less profits, and they should either be sold or
 mothballed quickly."
     Schnur said he supports Altair's December 19, 2003 announcement of a
 restructuring program whereby the two development stage mining projects would
 be terminated, so that Altair could focus 100% of its personnel and other
 resources on its most promising business enterprise, the Reno, Nevada
 Materials/Nanotechnology Division.
     But he says that a March 16, 2004 Altair announcement is contradictory to
 the stated goals of the restructuring in that there would be a continued focus
 on mining activities.  That release states in part:
 
     "Altair plans to distribute (or spin off) to its shareholders the capital
 stock of a subsidiary holding the assets of the current Mineral Recovery
 Systems (MRS) division.  Altair intends to solicit shareholder approval for
 the spin off and complete the filings necessary to make MRS a reporting
 company.  MRS will hold the rights to the exploration-stage mineral deposit in
 Camden, Tennessee, the ownership of the Altair centrifugal jig and related
 intellectual property for agglomeration of titanium dioxide.
     Dr. William P. Long will resign his position as Chief Executive Officer
 and member of Altair's board of directors as of May 1, 2004.  Dr. Long is
 expected to serve as the President of MRS ... "
 
     Altair's SEC report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended
 December 31, 2003 disclosed aggregate losses of $17.6 million, by
 subsidiaries, relating to the centrifugal jig and the Tennessee mining
 projects.  Schnur said he believes the reporting of "subsidiaries losses," as
 being indicative of total mining losses, is understated and misleading.
     Schnur also said, "After reviewing the financial statements in the SEC
 filings, and as an active shareholder (and a CPA, formerly employed by Price
 Waterhouse & Co.), it is my opinion that a more realistic economic assessment
 of Altair's $46 million loss, from inception in 1973 to December 31, 2003
 (30 years) is:
 
      Mining development projects division - 30 years      $30 million
      Reno materials/nanotech division - 3 years           $16 million
      Altair's total loss from 1973 - December 31, 2003    $46 million."
 
     Schnur said he believes shareholder value will be maximized by the
 immediate termination of mining personnel and of all controllable mining
 expenditures, and the disposal of the mining projects by public auction, prior
 to December 31, 2004.  The auction should be advertised in "The Northern
 Miner," with project descriptions mailed to potential interested companies and
 investors.  Altair alumni, suppliers, business prospects and others would have
 equal opportunity in a public auction.
     A definitive, comprehensive disposal of the mining projects will bring
 closure to a long-term, failed business venture (and to Altair's team of
 mining directors and managers), maximize Altair's chances for commercial
 success, and hopefully set the stage for a long overdue return on investments
 made by Altair shareholders, Schnur said.
     To explain his reasoning in estimating Altair's mining losses, Schnur
 noted that Altair's only business until November 1999 was mining, and that it
 did not have significant nanotech expenses until 2001.  In November 1999,
 Altair purchased certain technology assets from BHP Minerals International,
 Inc. (BHP), including, for a one-year period, the services of certain BHP
 personnel involved in the development of the acquired technology.
 Accordingly, Altair did not incur salary expenses for the technology operation
 from November 15, 1999 through November 15, 2000, since these expenses
 ($1,535,985) were part of the total $9,625,560 purchase price Altair paid BHP.
     Altair reported in its Form 10-K for 2000 that it had accumulated deficits
 during the development stage of $21,606,378, virtually all of which, Schnur
 says, was attributable to mining.
     As to years following 2000, Altair reported in its annual report for 2003
 that "management views the company as being three business segments:
 Nanomaterials and Titanium Dioxide Pigment Technology, Tennessee Mineral
 Property, and the Jig."  The following "Loss from Operations" was also
 reported:
 
                   Unallocated       Tennessee       Jig         Mining Total
      2003         $2,778,885         $155,709      $27,729       $183,438
      2002          1,871,953          598,977    2,929,010      3,527,987
      2001          2,006,198          930,777      300,913      1,231,690
      TOTALS       $6,657,036(B)    $1,685,463   $3,257,652     $4,943,115(A)
 
     Mining Deficits from April 9, 1973 through December 31, 2000   $21,606,378
 
     Mining Deficits from 2001 through 2003                       (A) 4,943,115
 
     Estimated allocation of one-half of the $6,657,036
      "unallocated expense" to the Tennessee Mineral Property
      and the Jig.                                                (B) 3,328,518
 
     Actual Mining Loss from inception through 2003                 $29,878,011
 
 
     Together with the Reno building and cash realized from the exercise of
 warrants (as a result of investor enthusiasm for Altair's Nanotech Division),
 the nanotech assets are the only significant assets on the December 31, 2003
 Balance Sheet.  The mining projects were written off.  Schnur said he believes
 that Altair should have established a "Reserve for Loss on Disposal of Mining
 Projects" at December 31, 2003.
     Schnur noted that the President's Message in Altair's 2000 annual report
 stated " ... the Camden titanium deposit, with its tremendous resource value,
 remains the financial underpinning of the company.  We have continued with our
 deliberate development of the property as the world capacity for extraction of
 titanium mineral resources has continued to decline."
     "After $30 million of losses, and diminished odds of obtaining necessary
 mining permits, as well as a viable operating partner," Schnur said, "it is
 time to cut the mining loss and give 100% to Materials/Nanotech.  In my
 opinion, the losses actually attributable to the mining operations are greater
 than the amounts that have been reported."
     All of Altair's directors and senior management were mining personnel
 until Rudi Moerck was hired in March 2002, a move Schnur supports.  The mining
 division had offices, in Cody, Wyoming and Reno, Nevada (complete with jig).
 The Tennessee pilot plant and tailings pond were constructed and operated in
 2000-2001.  The BHP purchase was mostly paid from $8,904,029 received for
 common stock sold in 2000 (at an average price of $2.36).  Altair's proceeds
 from the Doral 18 LLC loan provided very little net cash to Altair; the loan
 carried a very high interest rate; and the loan resulted in significant
 dilution since warrants were issued as part of the loan, and significant
 repayments were made in common stock, at historically low prices.
     Schnur said that four months after the December 2003 restructuring
 announcement, Altair continues the mining payroll, lease payments to Tennessee
 landowners, engineering support for the jig in Africa, maintenance and
 environmental exposure for the pilot plant and tailings pond, an office in
 Cody, etc.  Moreover, the spin-off might generate another $500,000 of expenses
 to be borne by Altair.  Shareholders should demand that Altair directors order
 the immediate termination of this wasteful spending.
     This release is not intended, and does not constitute a solicitation of
 proxies by Schnur or any other person or group.  Instead, in the interest of
 open shareholder communications, and in accordance with applicable SEC rules,
 it is intended to promote open communication among all shareholders concerning
 their views on the policies and decisions of Altair's management.
 
 

SOURCE Lou Schnur

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

 

PR Newswire Membership

Fill out a PR Newswire membership form or contact us at (888) 776-0942.

Learn about PR Newswire services

Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.