16 July 2018
I recently completed my first 100 days in the job at ILC. Since I became CEO we have raised almost CAD$3m of finance for ILC, almost as much as the firm raised on its IPO in 2011. We have achieved for now my short term goal of getting the company ahead of the funding curve. But it is only the first step.
For some time to come ILC, as a junior mining company, will need to continue to raise equity to keep up with its project financing needs as well as normal operating expenditure. The lithium industry is in an interesting period with almost every company either needing to raise finance or interested in raising money from non core projects to reinvest in its core projects. That gives rise to interesting opportunities, and emphasizes the need to be well funded so that ILC can make its decisions based on good economics rather than on cash flow management. So I am going to be busy with meeting investors in multiple countries, especially in North America and Europe.
I had a very interesting day last week looking at our Irish joint venture’s drilling project in Moylisha, part of the Avalonia concession. The team are doing an excellent job, trying to find seams of pegmatite with spodumene. A fascinating geology lesson I received is that this part of Ireland was once joined up with North America 400 million years ago before the Atlantic Ocean opened up, and that consequently the geology is very similar to that in parts of North Carolina. This is hopefully a promising comparison !
We will be moving to new better offices in Vancouver shortly, and this is another step forward to rebuilding a successful company.
30 March 2018
I accepted the role of Chairman and CEO of ILC on 14 March 2018 at a challenging time. The company under its previous leadership had not taken the funding actions required to fund a significant stake in a major project, let alone in future years several projects. As a result we were behind with our payables on almost every front. The asset backing of the company was great but our liquidity was not. Too much time had been spent on the company’s social media presence, and too little time on some of the basics, the most obvious omission being staying ahead of our funding needs.
We have some wonderful mining assets, Mariana in Argentina owned 17.24% by ILC and 82.76% by Ganfeng Lithium being the most important one. Moreover that stake can be increased to 27.24% in the future at our option on paying a share of project costs.
A company that is in development mode is by definition in fundraising mode, and this will be our priority for the next few months. Having stabilized the finances, we need to strengthen them to be well ahead of our funding needs. We will also improve our infrastructure at the same time. Without sound finances, a good mission statement or corporate strategy is a dream, and it is my and the board’s wish to turn more of the strategy into reality.
Companies have different stages, and a lot has been done by those who have built the company to where it is now since before it went public in 2011. This includes on founding Gary Schellenberg, Executive Co-Chairman and CEO from inception until January 2017, Mike Sieb, President in the early days, Jerry Bella, CFO until January 2017 and Kirill Klip. Kirill was initially Non-Executive Co-Chairman, then also President from March 2012, and then Chairman, CEO and President from January 2017 to March 2018. Of course several others worked hard alongside all of them including our COO Anthony Kovacs. We are grateful to all of them, and it is important to recognise all their achievements and contributions. Those in the team involved in identifying the major lithium assets also deserve special recognition, as do those creating our key partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium and Pioneer Resources. The assets, the partnerships and the people are the key assets of the company.
Every well run company is a bit of an orchestra. Just as an orchestra with only pianists would be somewhat deficient, so equally a company like ILC with only geologists or only financial people would not be optimal. The skills that I bring to the job, other than public company and commercial skills, will include being rigorous about financial analysis of projects and contingent cashflows, and experience of capital markets. Great geologists for identifying projects, and then great financial analysis around those projects and funding of them are, in my view, a good combination which is likely to lead to success in this industry.
I do believe the company can have a very exciting and successful future which is why I have agreed to take on the current challenges having invested a lot of my own money into the company. My priority now is to find others who believe in the goals we have set and who share my personal view of the potential opportunity in the investment.
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Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information
Except for statements of historical fact, this news release contains certain “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities law. Forward-looking information or forward-looking statements in this news release include: the timing and anticipated results of environmental impact studies and pump tests, timing of preliminary economic studies on the Mariana project, the expectation of feasibility studies, lithium recoveries, modeling of capital and operating costs, results of studies utilizing membrane technology, and continued agreement between the Company and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd. regarding the Company’s percentage interest in the Mariana project. Such forward-looking information is based on a number of assumptions and subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those discussed in the sections entitled “Risks” and “Forward-Looking Statements” in the interim and annual Management’s Discussion and Analysis which are available at www.sedar.com. While management believes that the assumptions made are reasonable, there can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate. Should one or more of the risks, uncertainties or other factors materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in forward-looking information. Forward-looking information herein, and all subsequent written and oral forward-looking information are based on expectations, estimates and opinions of management on the dates they are made that, while considered reasonable by the Company as of the time of such statements, are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies. These estimates and assumptions may prove to be incorrect and are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Except as required by law, the Company assumes no obligation to update forward-looking information should circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions change.