Are you too late for lithium, Carlos Vincent, CFO of NeoLithium doesn’t think so.
Carlos Vicens, Chief Financial Officer, NeoLithium
Catch Carlos at the spotlight theater on Day 1 at 14:50
Mines and Money: How have the last 12 months been for you?
CV: From a technical perspective we’d had a great last 12 months. We understand the potential of our mining project a lot better than a year ago.
We now have a clear mandate to develop our project. We have permission to begin work on our processing plant and our pilot plant.
We’ve made great progress with our permitting which gives us great confidence going forward.
From a market perspective it has been tougher for us, as has been the case with all lithium companies. Coming down from the highs of the lithium price of January 2018 has been hard which has impacted our share price, never easy when you are trying hard to finance the project.
However, we do have CAD40 million in the bank, which puts our project in a stable financial position
Mines and Money: With so many lithium miners what sets your mining company apart from others in the space?
CV: Investors face a seemingly huge variety of choices when it comes to investing into lithium projects. Do you invest in hard rock projects in Australia, clay projects in Mexico, or brine projects in South America?
Hard rock projects typically have a higher cost to produce, but a shorter time to market. Brine projects like ours have cheaper production costs but take a longer time to market.
Our 3Q Project has one of the highest-grade lithium brine projects in the world, with a large salar and lithium brine lake covering more than 150km2 and the Company controls more 350km2 in and around the complex.
A key selling point is we are not only low cost, but also high grade and more important low impurity. We have the 2nd highest grade salar in the world, and when you measure our combined grade and purity we are the world’s best. Our salar is 25km long and 4km wide. On average our grade is 600ml per litre and in some places, it is 1000m per litre.
Mines and Money: What opportunities do you see for the next 12 months? How is your company positioned to take advantage of them?
CV: For 2019 our first focus is on environmental and impact assessment on our long-term commercial operations, working with the relevant authorities over the next few years. We are currently working on the completion of environmental permitting (EIA) as part of mine construction permit in Q1/Q2 2019
We are working on our Pre-Feasibility Study which we are looking to release by March 2019.
We are also looking to expand drilling below 100 metres in the high-grade area in the northern part of the salar which will help increase the high grade portion of our resource. The basin in some portions goes down to 600 metres, so there is significant potential there.”
In 2019, as we were in 2018, we are focused on bring a partner to finance the project towards construction and production. This is key to unlocking value in our share price.
Mines and Money: What do you see as the key risks and challenges facing your company now and how are you overcoming these? When I speak to investors, they often have polarised views of Argentina.
CV: There are some investors who won’t like Argentina regardless. The truth is that there is political instability in many South American countries that is worse than Argentina. Chile for example, has a highly politicised lithium industry. We think that Argentina is in fact one of the best South American jurisdictions to be in.
The 3Q project is also based in the North Argentinian province of Catamarca which already has a lithium mine in production. So, the province has a proven track record of supporting the mining industry.
Mines and Money: The most common prediction bandied around is 30% of vehicles will be Electric Vehicles by 2030. What’s your view?
CV: My view is more binary in a sense that the percentage of vehicles becoming electric is only going one way. It might only be 20% EVs by 2030 but it could then grow to 65% by 2035. The EV revolution has already started but when it explodes, it will grow at a much faster rate than any one anticipates.
For EVs it’s not a case of if but when.