LONDON, March 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
Gold isn't precious anymore. Instead, it is battery metals that are drawing investor attention as electric vehicles threaten to completely rearrange the balance of power in the mining industry. Included in today's commentary: Ballard Power Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BLPD), Hydrogenics Corporation (NASDAQ: HYGS), Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE: TRQ), Cameco Corporation (NYSE: CCJ), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC).
But when we start shopping around for some way to put our money into lithium-the tight-supply darling of this new balance of power-it's hard to find the right small-cap play that will end up being a multi-bagger.
It's a crowded playing field.
We want a small-cap with big ideas, a working plan already in place, strong prospects, unique advanced tech that no one else has, and exactly the right people.
We found 'Burba's Brine'.
'Burba' is a reference to John Burba-the genius in the lithium space who co-invented one of the most unique lithium extraction technologies for giant miner FMC. Now, he's the CEO of International Battery Metals (IBAT; RHHNF), which now holds the even more advanced version of this proprietary technology.
'Brine' is a reference to where most of the lithium is. And brine deposits are estimated to contain 66 percent of the world's 14 million metric tonnes (MT) of Lithium.
IBAT ticks all of our pure-play lithium boxes:
It has Burba, the lithium legend.
It has a new, proprietary technology that can extract lithium faster than anything else on the planet.
It has mobility: Yes, the tech can be moved around from brine to brine, just like that.
It has a guaranteed market because all of these giant EV and battery players can't come close to keeping their production capacity without a lot more lithium.
Make no mistake, this isn't an exploration game. It's an innovation game, and IBAT is leading the pack.
Here are 5 more reasons to take a further look at IBAT (IBAT; RHHNF),
#1 - Before Burba Came Along …
Everyone thought lithium extraction was limited to a small number of brines. They also thought it should take up to 24 months to extract.
Burba changed the rules of the game by pioneering a new technology that can turn months into … hours.
It's not solar evaporation, the cumbersome process that takes two years to see results. Solar evaporation requires extracting every single element from the brine until only lithium remains. Hence the painstakingly long process.
IBAT's technology targets the lithium directly, extracting the new precious metal and leaving everything else behind. In other words, it's the old process, in reverse.
Burba co-invented the first version of this technology decades ago. FMC-one of the world's top four lithium producers-has been using it for 20 years. His invention even led to the label "FMC-grade" carbonate because it's the purest in the world.
But that was 20 years ago. And Burba didn't stop there. The original technology has been advanced further-with a Burba twist. And the new technology has the potential to reshape lithium like fracking reshaped American oil.
#2 - Tesla Thinks So, Too
Nothing speaks to us more than a multi-million-dollar nod from the 'Iron Man' of our time: Elon Musk.
The Tesla genius knows Burba's work well. In fact, Musk offered $325 million for Burba's earlier start-up, Simbol. Musk called it a "compelling opportunity to combine two innovative companies on a mission to advance clean and sustainable energy technologies worldwide."
It wasn't a high enough price tag for Simbol, though, and Burba took his knowledge elsewhere-to Selective Absorption Lithium, which has a share exchange agreement with IBAT. Burba is the incoming CEO and Chair of IBAT, maintaining control of even more advanced patent pending lithium extraction technology.
#3 - No Other Small-Cap Can Produce Lithium in Time
Timing is critical when we're talking about lithium, and IBAT's technology can extract lithium in 24 hours-not 24 months. This means more efficient operations and a much smaller environmental footprint.
While some small-cap resource companies have made similar claims, based on small scale laboratory tests, none are basing their claims on technology that has been commercially proven. The technology that IBAT is bringing to the table is a vastly improved version of the technology that Burba and his partner sold to FMC, which became the basis of FMC's lithium production process. FMC's lithium extraction plant has continuously operated with this technology for 20 years.
Lithium shortage fears first emerged about two years ago, causing a tripling in lithium prices in only 10 months. Suddenly it occurred to everyone that the electric vehicle boom had crept up on them stealthily. Then EVs started hitting the mainstream market, and the race to build battery gigafactories to support them was on in full force. Today, the fear is that much greater.
We simply don't have enough lithium mining operations online to feed this revolution. EV production is set to increase more than thirtyfold by 2030, according to Bloomberg.
Again, this playing field is crowded with small-caps trying to get in on the fantastically tight supply set-up. But they won't make it because they don't have the right technology.
Many will spent a ton of money that they don't have, and then some will crash and burn because they can't get the lithium out of the brine fast enough to corner any decent market share.
Production capacity is now at a critical juncture. It usually takes a minimum of 4 years for an average Lithium brine mine to come online--and another 3-4 years to reach full capacity.
It's the key to unlocking what could be over $80 billion in lithium brine resources-resources that major EV players like Tesla-and now every other auto maker in the world-and tech giants like Apple, on its way to becoming the first-ever trillion-dollar company, are coveting.
# 4- Lithium Demand is a Producer's Dream
A close look at the current lithium market highlights just how big the potential for successful small caps with the right technology is.
With global battery demand forecast to rise 7.7 percent to $120 billion already in 2019, and with the lithium market alone set to reach $1.7 billion, this is a market that won't wait for evaporating ponds.
The global Li-ion market is expected to exceed $46 billion by 2022, growing at nearly 11 percent CAGR. What the world needs right now is plentiful supply of high-grade Lithium to power the unfolding EV revolution.
There's more upside risk here because of battery demand than there is downside risk, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Andrew Grant.
Lithium prices have made prodigious runs to all-time highs.
Tesla's 70kWh Model S battery pack contains 63Kg of lithium, equivalent to the amount of lithium in 10,000 cellphones, and the EV posterchild has already accumulated more than 400K Model 3 pre-orders on its books.
Tesla, too, will use up the entire world's current supply of battery-grade lithium when it hits a production clip of 500K Model 3s in its giant Nevada Gigafactory sometime in 2018. When it opens up four more gigafactories, well …
Meanwhile, the plug-in EV market is already growing at 10x faster than its gasoline-powered counterpart. Bloomberg Finance has forecast there will be more than 100 million EVs on our roads by 2040.
IBAT's not wasting any precious lithium time here-it's a small-cap, pure-play lithium set-up that ticks all the right boxes in an incredible market.
# 5 - The Dream Team Behind The Tech
Inventor John Burba-a veteran in lithium extraction-is the incoming IBAT (IBAT; RHHNF) Chairman and CEO, and he's one of the most important pioneers in extraction technologies. He is considered a genius in this space.
IBAT's new to-be-acquired technology is actually based on a tech that John Burba co-invented and sold in the 1990s when he was a leading technology figure at giant FMC.
Before Burba came along, everyone thought that lithium could be produced from only a limited number of brines.
Burba has since made dramatic advancements on the core technology. This has yielded significant improvements in terms of extraction efficiency, cost and purity.
Robert Miller is another big name that will be working with IBAT on fund raising efforts.
Miller has raised over $500 million in early-stage capital and taken 7 companies public - with listings including both NASDAQ and AMEX.
He's also founder of the gold-mining company Crystallex, bringing years of experience to this ground-breaking project.
Burba has already revolutionized lithium processing once. With his new tag team, he has the potential to do it again - unlocking over $84 billion worth of lithium.
Other companies to watch in the lithium and energy tech space:
Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLPD) Ballard develops and produces hydrogen fuel cell products for markets such as heavy-duty motive, portable power, material handling and transportation
Ballard's stock price jumped a whopping 27% in September as the company announced a new way to manufacture fuel cell batteries, reducing the need for platinum in its production process by some 80%.
Hydrogenics (NASDAQ: HYGS): Hydrogenics Corp is a Canadian firm, which designs and manufactures hydrogen generation products based on water electrolysis technology, and fuel cell products based on proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology. Hydrogenics' stock had quite a spectacular run and peaked in June, analysts now see the stock as fair valued.
Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE: TRQ) is a mid-cap Canadian mineral exploration and development company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. Its focus is on the Pacific Rim where it is in the process of developing several large mines. The company mines a diversified set of metals/minerals including Coal, Gold, Copper, Molybdenum, Silver, Rhenium, Uranium, Lead and Zinc.
Cameco Corporation (NYSE: CCJ) Cameco is one of the largest global producers and sellers of uranium and nuclear fuel. Its operating uranium properties include the McArthur River/Key Lake, Cigar Lake, and Rabbit Lake properties located in Saskatchewan, Canada; the Inkai property situated in Kazakhstan; the Smith Ranch-Highland property located in Wyoming, the United States; and the Crow Butte property situated in Nebraska.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) is a leader in multiple fields of technology. The forward-thinking industry giant is the backbone of many laptops and PCs running the Windows operating system. The company has been so successful in its deal-making and advertising that it is impossible to escape its influence.
By. Joao Piexe
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This news release contains forward-looking information which is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements in this release include that IBAT will complete its announced transaction with North American Lithium and acquire NAL's technology and IP; the Lithium extraction process will be cost effective and can work much more quickly that other extraction technologies; that the process can be commercialized for large scale production; that the NAL team which knows the NAL technology will join IBAT; that the NAL technology can be licensed worldwide; that IBAT plans to set up a pilot extraction facility in early 2018, and then secure additional licenses for other high-grade lithium brines by this summer; that by 2020, IBAT anticipates becoming a supplier of various battery metals; that IBAT plans to secure 3 tin properties in 2018; and that it plans to acquire high value tin and tantilum properties. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Risks that could change or prevent these statements from coming to fruition include that the Company and NAL may not agree on the final agreement terms, aspects or all of the process development may not be successful, the process may not be cost effective, the Company may not raise sufficient funds to carry out its plans, changing costs for mining and processing; increased capital costs; the timing and content of upcoming work programs; geological interpretations and technological results based on current data that may change with more detailed information or testing; potential process methods and mineral recoveries assumption based on limited test work and by comparison to what are considered analogous deposits that with further test work may not be comparable; high value mineral properties may not be available for IBAT to acquire, or IBAT may not be able to afford them; competitors may offer better technology than NAL's lithium extraction technology; the availability of labour, equipment and markets for the products produced;
IBAT may not be able to finance its business plans; and despite the current expected viability of the project, that the minerals cannot be economically extracted with the NAL technology, or that the required permits to build and operate the envisaged mines cannot be obtained. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
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