According to the World Bank, air pollution costs China as much as $300-billion a year in health problems and productivity losses.
In response, the Chinese central government just announced a slate of pro-electric car policies, including slashing charging station rates by 30%. Navigant Research predicts that global lithium ion battery sales will increase 400% by 2023.
A Canadian company is strategically positioned to benefit from this macro-trend.
On Aug. 5, International Lithium Corp (ILC-TSX.V) announced that it has secured 100% interest in the Mariana lithium brine property in Argentinawhile finalizing a joint venture with Ganfeng Lithium (002460-SHE) - a $1.3-billion Chinese goliath producing industrial grade lithium for new energy, new medicine, and other industries.
"Ganfeng has an army of lithium-focused geologists who looked at projects in every corner of the planet," stated ILC president Kirill Klip in an exclusive interview, "but they chose ILC to do business with. This is a big de-risking factor for our current and future shareholders. The Chinese do their homework. They believe in the geology of our assets, our management and our development strategy."
Ganfeng is in the process of buying a lithium battery company in China. That transaction is expected to be completed Q4 2014. They are currently one of the world's top lithium producers.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ganfeng now holds an 80% interest in the Mariana project and they will loan ILC up to $2-million to cover ILC's required contribution to the joint venture.
HandoutVertically integrated Ganfeng Lithium holds an 80% interest in ILC'S Mariana project in Argentina - de-risking it financially and geologically.
Klip is a MBA-trained economist who has extensive experience in banking, transportation, mining, telecommunications and internet industries.
ILC was initially spun out of TNR Gold Corp., a mineral exploration company with a strong portfolio of assets such as the Shotgun gold project in Alaska and the back-in rights to McEwen Mining's world renowned Los Azules copper property in Argentina. TNR Gold holds 25.5% in ILC. Ganfeng Lithium holds 17.5%. Klip is the largest individual shareholder in ILC. The company is tightly held by the insiders and management.
ILC retains the right to "buy back" a 10% interest in the Mariana property by repaying Ganfeng 10% of its total incurred exploration costs.
"In the context of junior mining, the partnership with Ganfeng is the best possible scenario," stated Klip, "we have gained a strong international strategic partner and an exploration budget with minimal dilution to the share structure."
The recent acquisition of the Taca Taca copper deposit by First Quantum Minerals has confirmed Klip's view that mining investment in Argentina will increase. Both Taca Taca and Mariana are located in Salta, Argentina, a mining friendly province and heart of the South American Lithium Triangle. Infrastructure development work at nearby Taca Taca is expected to benefit the Mariana project.
"I spent many years developing an integrated Lithium strategy with Ganfeng's chairman, Liangbin Li, and vice-chairman, Wang Xiaoshen," stated Klip, "I think it is fair to say that we understand one another, and that Li is receptive to our geological expertise."
HandoutKirill Klip, president of International Lithium, right, and Li Liangbin, president with Ganfeng Lithium
China is competing with other countries for lithium supply. Tesla Motors (TSLA-NASDAQ) planned "gigafactory" will more than double the current global lithium ion battery production.
"Ganfeng inspected projects in Australia, North America, Europe and other projects in Argentina," confirms Klip, "But the Ganfeng team circled back to us and chose to make a sizeable financial investment in two of our projects, in Argentina and Ireland."
Ganfeng have also finalized a joint venture agreement with ILC on the Blackstairs Lithium project in Ireland, exercising an option to acquire 51% of the Blackstairs project with the possibility to acquire an additional 24% in the project by spending $10-million within 10 years or producing a positive feasibility study. A budget for the first phase of 1.6-million euro has just been announced on Blackstairs.
Ganfeng Lithium is a vertically integrated lithium business. As well as mineral development, they produce lithium batteries so they are looking to ILC as a future source of raw materials for their production chain in China.
ILC and Ganfeng will now begin an accelerated program to develop a pilot plant in Argentina. This project is currently being budgeted. Ganfeng's technological expertise and research facilities are expected to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in on-going development and feasibility studies. A recently signed trade agreement between China and Argentina provides state-level support for the joint venture.
"The Mariana project has a high potassium-lithium ratio" stated Xiaoshen. "This will make the cost of the lithium resource very competitive. We believe this project will have a bright future considering the fast growing lithium demand for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles."
ILC's agenda is to become a primary source of lithium to meet the increasing demand of its strategic partner Ganfeng Lithium.
"For people who have been to China, and understand the way they do business, this partnership is a very significant milestone," stated Kirill. "Our projects have passed through a rigorous testing procedure by a sophisticated team of international lithium geologists. This is the financial and strategic catalyst for our next phase of growth."
Last month, the Chinese government announced a new mandate that by 2016 at least 30% of all automobiles purchased by the government must be electric.
ILC is currently trading at .03 with a market cap of $2.7-million.
This story was provided by Market One Media for commercial purposes. Postmedia had no involvement in the creation of this content."
Disclosure: The author is long ILHMF, TRRXF.