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Rare Earth elements or metals (REEs) are essential elements in clean-energy technologies. In recent years REEs have received plenty of coverage concurrent to growing environmental concerns. The rare-earth topic is no longer obscure and discussions regarding future REE shortages are beginning to emerge in mainstream media. Today international governments and organizations are pushing efforts to develop solutions to the rising scarcity threat, one of the biggest being that only 1 percent of critical materials are currently being recycled (they are difficult to recover economically), and so the race to find viable sources for REEs is on.
The Green Technology Industry is the largest end-user of REEs and is continually growing with the development of electric vehicles and green energy electrical generators; wind turbines and solar panels. According to the American Chemistry Society, Lithium is among these endangered metals. China, which controls 97% of global rare earth production, has made significant investments in securing their supply. One excellent example of this is the recent news from China based Ganfeng Lithium Corp. regarding their 15million yuan (US $2.4 million) investment into International Lithium's Blackstairs Pegmatite project in Ireland and the Mariana Brine project in Argentina for the 2014 budget year. Ganfeng Lithium Corp. is one of the largest lithium product suppliers in the world supplying ILC with both capital and expertise and providing the global green technology industry with a new potential source of lithium supply.
Ganfeng's transaction signifies confidence in ILC's capabilities as ILC is currently one of the only publicly traded Canadian Corporations receiving funding from China after the collapse of the multi-million dollar CNOOC/Nexen deal. The Blackstairs Lithium project in Ireland is particularly momentous as a recent European Union study concluded that rare earth supply constraints could hamper clean energy efforts. Ireland has pledged to make the mining process more efficient as part of an approach to boost lithium production. Subsequent to the Blackstairs funding announcement, Jianguo Xu, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, paid a courtesy call to Richard Bruton, Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, to discuss how to promote pragmatic and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
Beyond the growing demand and investment from Chinese conglomerates, encouraging headlines have also come out of Argentina, which is home to ILC's Lithium-Brine Project located within the famous Andes Lithium Triangle. The political tide appears to have made a turn for the better this year as governments in Argentina took positive steps towards modernizing public policy to encourage foreign investment. Not only was the national currency devalued to bring it closer to its real value but new economic systems to measure real impacts of inflation were implemented. The settlement with Spanish oil giant Repsol over the YPF nationalization is another indicator that change for the better is in the works. In addition, an unprecedented debt repayment deal was struck with the "Paris Club" of creditor nations, and Lumina Copper's announcement that First Quantum Minerals has agreed to purchase the Taca Taca copper project for $470 million should help to shore up lingering doubts about the direction Argentina's mining industry is headed. Taca Taca is approximately 70 kilometres from ILC's Mariana project and any infrastructure built to facilitate production at Taca Taca will also benefit Mariana.
ILCs goes beyond traditional mine development and is creating a business model that is focused on cooperation and growth. Ganfeng Lithium and ILC are jointly working on a vertical integration plan to develop both lithium projects and have just announced an exploration budget for 2014. With the REE demand growing and Tesla's big Open Source move, this venture could not have occurred at a more opportune time.
About International Lithium Corp.
International Lithium Corp. is an exploration company with an outstanding portfolio of projects, strong management ownership, robust financial support and a strategic partner and keystone investor Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd., a leading China based lithium product manufacturer.
The Company's primary focus is the Mariana lithium-potash brine project, within the renowned South American "Lithium Belt" that is the host to the vast majority of global lithium resources, reserves and production. The 160 square kilometre Mariana project strategically encompasses an entire mineral rich evaporate basin that ranks as one of the more prospective salars or 'salt lakes" in the region.
Complementing the Company's lithium brine project are rare metals pegmatite properties in Canada and Ireland. These projects reported highly encouraging lithium mineralization in drill holes targeting pegmatites that are unexposed at surface (news releases dated April 3,2013 and June 25, 2013).
With the increasing demand for high tech rechargeable batteries used in vehicle propulsion technologies and portable electronics, lithium is paramount to tomorrow's "green-tech" economy. By positioning itself with solid development partners and acquiring high quality grass roots projects at an early stage of exploration, ILC aims to be the green tech resource explorer of choice for investors and build value for its shareholders.
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. Statements in this press release other than purely historical information, historical estimates should not be relied upon, including statements relating to the Company's future plans and objectives or expected results, are forward-looking statements. News release contains certain "Forward-Looking Statements" within the meaning of Section 21E of the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions and are subject to all of the risks and uncertainties inherent in the Company's business, including risks inherent in resource exploration and development. As a result, actual results may vary materially from those described in the forward-looking statements.
Disclosure: The author is long ILHMF, TRRXF.