A message from Frontier Lithium’s CEO
Sudbury, Ontario, April 8, 2020 – Frontier Lithium Inc. (TSXV: FL) (“Frontier” or “the Company”) is pleased to provide a message from CEO & President, Trevor R. Walker on activities surrounding the PAK Lithium Project which is located in an emerging premium lithium mineral district located in the Great Lakes region of northern Ontario.
“These uncertain times for our families, shareholders and partners will result in a changed world. Currently, safety is our top priority, however despite delays we are also aware of the opportunities being created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding our share price at multi year lows, the fundamentals on the Project have improved considerably during a growing need for the localization of critical supply chains.
Our current efforts focus on three key areas, each of which is progressing:
- Resource expansion – We have recently doubled our resource size (using all levels of resource categories) on the PAK Lithium project with the addition of the Spark Deposit’s maiden resource. This is very significant as the project has attained the critical mass to pursue full integration with the potential to supply both the industrial lithium mineral market as well as feedstock for the lithium chemical business. Frontier maintains a very low acquisition cost for its lithium resource (all categories) from all exploration expenditures at CAD $11 / tonne of contained Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE) in the ground.
- Demonstration concentrator – Background test work, mining lease conversion, surveying and engineering have been conducted so that permit applications can be advanced and submitted to develop the project. Critical Lock Cycle flotation results from a “life of mine” sample are expected in the very near future and will be disseminated once received and interpreted. The sample results are a significant milestone where resulting data is vital for product qualification and to advance discussions with potential offtake partners. Although we are seeing delays with Covid-19 we are still expecting to see the required permits in 2020.
- Lithium hydroxide test work – Lithium Chemicals Phase I benchscale test work is near completion at XPS (A Glencore Company) in Falconbridge, Ontario. Final crystallization work has taken place, and the company looks forward to dissemination of results in the near future. This work has resulted in an intellectual property that is filed and under review to be completed for final patents in selected jurisdictions around the globe. Currently Frontier and its partners are planning a Phase II pilot program. Various levels of government agencies are showing strong encouragement for the advance our work.
Frontier has always maintained a long-term view on the development of the lithium market and the ability for junior miners to enter the space outside of Chinese control. While uncertainty is a key issue in current markets, we believe the medium to long-term market fundamentals will be robust and continue moving forward to be positioned for production as quickly as possible. Some changes of the lithium market are worth highlighting:
- Auto EV manufacturers are seeking to move up the supply chain. Tesla’s acquisition of Maxwell Technologies last year shows an OEM taking a vertical energy storage technology step and expected to have a big impact on their future batteries. In addition, BMW has recently announced that they will be sourcing lithium and cobalt in order to supply their upstream suppliers. This is a clear message that OEMs are starting to be concerned with security, quality and ethical sourcing of critical materials.
- General Motors has announced a USD $20 billion investment in a flexible global platform to rapidly grow its EV portfolio, and it has revealed the new Ultium batteries to be produced in a joint venture with LG Chem will drive battery cell costs below $100/kWh.
- Other OEMs are forced to limit their EV production capacity due to issues in securing battery supplies. It shows why Tesla, BMW and General Motors are spending funds to establish their own battery factories.
- Toyota, after a long-time favouring fuel cell technology, has announced a major boost for its EV plans with the Panasonic Corp. joint venture, and its BYD partnership, to fuel their plan to have 60GWh of lithium ion battery capacity by end-2025. Toyota’s capacity will equate to approximately 52,200 of LCE according to a Benchmark Minerals Intelligence analyst.
- Tianqi Lithium, majority owner of the world’s largest producing mineral supply of lithium (Greenbushes deposit), is under pressure to repay over USD $3.5 billion in debt that helped it finance an ambitious expansion overseas in the past two years. This event is a major contributor of uncertainty and is likely to provide opportunity in the short term for Frontier Lithium considering that Greenbushes supplies all of the clean technical grade concentrates used in North America for industrial uses such as premium glass and ceramics.
With a modest monthly cash burn rate and strong support from major shareholders, Frontier is maintaining progress and can weather extended volatility without significant dilution. Frontier offers a unique opportunity for the portfolio of an investor in technological resources, in particular battery minerals. The company’s lithium is contained in a rare low-iron spodumene resource which has shown high potential of producing two lithium products, a characteristic found in few commercially viable deposits around the world. With the current lithium bear market as the backdrop, Frontier provides shareholders with what is considered by many as the highest quality spodumene deposit in North America.
In summary, Frontier has a bright future and we expect positive developments in coming weeks and months. Keep healthy”.
The Maiden Mineral Resource Estimate for the Spark deposit has been filed recently on SEDAR and is included in the PAK Lithium Project PFS (NI 43-101). The company retained WSP Canada Inc. (WSP) to prepare an updated, independent mineral resource estimate in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) for the resource calculation. At this time, the Spark deposit is being considered a separate deposit from the PAK deposit (located 2.3km away). The Spark resource model does not impact the results of the PFS. The report was disseminated on SEDAR on March 23, 2020 and is available through this hyperlink.