Seeking Alpha

Peter Epstein's  Instablog

Peter Epstein
Send Message
In 2011 Peter Epstein, CFA, left a $3 billion hedge fund where he was a senior analyst to help increase awareness of a number of small cap companies in which he's invested in. Please see: On TWITTER: @peterepstein2 Mr. Epstein formed MockingJay, Inc., a consultancy for... More
My company:
MockingJay, Inc.
My blog:
Epstein Research
View Peter Epstein's Instablogs on:
  • Interview Of Ucore Rare Metals' Key Technology Partners

    The following interview was conducted on May 15th-18th via phone and email by Peter Epstein, CFA, MBA. The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the three named individuals. Please see a direct link to applicable disclosures and two excellent links regarding Ucore & MRT at the bottom of the interview. Ucore Rare Metals is a speculative, small cap company that may not be suitable for all investors. Readers should conduct their own due diligence, including visiting the company's website and consulting with their own investment advisors. Note: [This article does not incorporate news released after May 18th. For instance, an important press release was released on May 20th. This and other news flow will be addressed in subsequent article(s)].

    I would like to thank Steve & Reed Izatt, PHD of IBC Advanced Technologies and Mark McDonald of Ucore Rare Metals (UCU.V) (OTCQX:UURAF) for taking a considerable amount of time answering follow up questions I had about Molecular Recognition Technology, "MRT." I grilled the Izatts about Ucore's proposed use of MRT because my prior article on Ucore Rare Metals attracted some criticism. Skeptics are to be expected and management, technology partners and independent advisors are available to discuss opposing points of view. Over the decades, "new" technologies in the processing of metals & minerals have been fraught with failures. I believe some of the pushback on MRT might be from painting all new technologies with the same brush.

    In doing research on peer REE juniors, several propose the use of their own separation technologies. My view on MRT is that it's one of several that might come to fruition in coming years. However, MRT appears to stand out in that it could be used for third-party processing or reclamation applications. That would allow Ucore to generate revenue this year or next. Other company's proposed separation technologies seem to apply solely to their own projects.

    My intent in interviewing the Izatts and Mark was to better understand what they believe, (biased as they are) and convey that view so that readers can make their own judgments.

    Peter: There's been both skepticism and supporters of MRT. Have you received more or less skepticism than you expected?

    Steve: I think that people have their own agendas. I don't mean that in a disparaging manner, just that potentially revolutionary technologies always face skeptics. The REE investment space has historically not been populated by people with scientific or engineering backgrounds. It's easy to say something won't work. But the discussion should center on chemical and engineering principles. Persons with processing and technical backgrounds have spoken favorably of our technology and its scalability.

    We have separated the entire suite of individual rare earths. This offers incontrovertible proof that our MRT process works at lab scale. We have scaled up numerous other projects outside of REEs based on our proprietary SuperLig® products. The proven separation characteristics of MRT, coupled with our actual accomplishments in scaling up similar processes should give investors significant confidence.


    Helpful links:

    Mr. Reed Izatt, Phd, InvestorIntel article from May 15th

    Byron King Interview of CEO Jim McKenzie, Ucore Rare Metals, early March, 2015

    Please see applicable disclosures here.

    May 26 9:17 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Nevada Copper Corp. Could Be Takeout Target

    Peter Epstein, CFA, MBA Twitter: @peterepstein2

    Copper Supply Far From Secure, Production Costs Rising

    It's widely known that average copper grades have been falling for decades. The conventional wisdom is that the average grade from producing mines is down from about 1.0% to roughly 0.60%. That trend is likely to persist. Labor, energy, water, legal, local populations, compliance and environmental challenges and costs are up, resulting in the time from discovery to production nearly doubling since the year 2000. This suggests that a number of mid-tier and major base metals players could be looking at acquisitions to offset ongoing depletion. As I hope to demonstrate, Nevada Copper (NCU.TO) (OTC:NEVDF)leads the pack in this regard.

    An example of what's going on in the copper space can be found by highlighting Chile's Escondida mine, operated by BHP. According to reports,

    "the project includes construction of a seawater desalination plant and the piping and electrical infrastructure needed to transport water to the mine, 114 miles away and 10,170 feet above sea level." More astonishing, according to an April, 2015 FT article, "...Chile State-owned Codelco, plans to spend $25bn over the next five years just to maintain current production..."

    Time is Approaching for Potential Suitors of Nevada Copper to Step Up

    Everyone agrees that Nevada is a safe and attractive jurisdiction. The same can no longer be said about Peru. That country's rankings have collapsed as chronicled in the 2014 Fraser Institute Mining Index. In 4 categories Nevada ranked on average # 6 out of roughly 125 countries/territories. By contrast, Peru ranked # 33. Why pick on Peru? It was the 4th largest copper producer in 2014. Even as I write, escalating protests against the $1.4 billion Tía María copper mining project in southern Peru is in the news again.

    Also in the top 10; China, the DRC, Russia and Zambia. So much for security of supply! Half of the top 10 are in unstable countries (my opinion only). Compare those with others in the top 10, the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile and Australia. With this in mind, it may be no surprise that I believe Nevada Copper is reaching a critical stage where a number of acquirers might be circling.

    Nevada Copper's flagship Pumpkin Hollow project is a high-grade Iron Oxide Copper Gold deposit within a porphyry copper district located in Nevada, not in a some scary country. As it stands, the combined 1 & 2 Stages represent a highly attractive, large, long life asset. The company's upcoming Integrated Feasibility Study, "IFS," has the potential to both expand reserves and resources and enhance the combined grade. The identified proven and probable reserves approximately 5 billion pounds of copper, plus gold and silver at a copper equivalent grade of 0.49%. This is a solid grade for a new entrant and compared to many depleting mines.

    Continue Reading....

    May 21 7:52 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Lithium Demand Could Spike More Than Many Believe

    Lithium Demand Will Grow Faster Than Experts Imagine

    by Peter Epstein, CFA, MBA
    Twitter: @peterepstein2 & Please consider providing your email for instant updates from THANK YOU!

    Disclosure: Please see applicable disclosures here. Peter Epstein, CFA, MBA

    It all started with Tesla's announcement of its battery giga-factory in February, 2014. That news was discussed endlessly with breathless excitement. The news sparked a revival in lithium, cobalt and graphite juniors. For example, Western Lithium USA Corp. (WLC.TO) based in Nevada, more than doubled that month. At the time, I wrote a few articles saying that the giga-factory was great news for select graphite companies. I didn't mention lithium or cobalt, simply because I was less fluent in those.

    Today, I'm better prepared to articulate the lithium story, one of the hotter sectors in the natural resources space. Why now? I think that the lithium-ion battery might be reaching a "tipping point," the phrase made famous by Malcolm Gladwell. Please note, I don't use catch phrases loosely, lithium's spike in demand is no, "black swan" event, and we're not near "Peak Lithium," although we could see supply shortages on the horizon. Not only did Tesla's giga-factory catch everyone's, the idea caught on so well that there's already 5-6 announced or in construction giga-factories, (Tesla's is the largest).

    Lithium demand, "is spiking," for several reasons, again heavily influenced by the $5 billion dollar Tesla facility. Interestingly, the original concept was that the Tesla facility would be completed by 2020. Now conventional wisdom says 2017-18, another bullish data point. Tesla's fully electric car was way too awesome for its own good. It guaranteed that new competition would enter the space and it has. Get ready for it, an abbreviated list of 15 automakers in the plugin-EV (hybrid) or fully EV market….BMW, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Tesla, GM, Ford, Kia, Fiat, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen, Audi and Hyundai.


    May 14 12:44 PM | Link | 6 Comments
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers


More »

Latest Comments

Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.