Half Yearly Report
During 2016, the Company adjusted its exploration focus to the exploration and development of lithium brine projects and lithium hard rock projects in a prime location amongst the major lithium companies in Argentina, having conducted activities in Argentina previously. In 2017, the Company holds four separate lithium projects in Argentina, each with potential to be a substantial stand alone development project, or colloquially, each "a company maker". Lake holds one of the largest lease holdings of lithium brine and hard rock projects of a listed entity on the ASX.
On 14 November 2016, the Company completed the acquisition of an unlisted company LithNRG Pty Ltd, with exciting lithium brine projects in three large packages of mineral lease applications (over 90,000 Ha) around salt lakes in North West Argentina. The leases had been established prior to the significant interest by majors and investors in lithium in Argentina. Lake controls 100% the subsidiary LithNRG Pty Ltd with its Argentine subsidiaries, Minerales Australes SA and Morena del Valle Minerals SA. The transaction was share based, followed by two private placements in December 2016 and February 2017.
An option agreement was entered into over a large block of mining leases and exploration applications over lithium bearing pegmatites in Argentina in February 2017. Consideration for the transaction are shares in the Company. This agreement was extended into FY2018 to allow completion of the establishment of the local entity, Petra Energy SA, and 19 million LKE shares would be issued if the option is exercised.
An unsecured debt security (note) was announced in November 2017 and raised $1.665 million from sophisticated and professional investors in the form of 1,665,000 unsecured notes at $1. This note will be repaid in the second half of FY2018 as other funds become available.
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About Lake Resources NL
Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE) is a lithium exploration and development company focused on developing its 3 lithium brine projects and 1 hard rock project in Argentina, all owned 100%. The leases are in a prime location among the lithium sector's largest players within the Lithium Triangle where half of the world's lithium is produced. Lake holds one of the largest lithium tenement packages in Argentina (~180,000Ha) secured in 2016 prior to a significant 'rush' by major companies. The large holdings provide the potential to provide security of supply demanded by battery makers and electric vehicle manufacturers.
The two flagship lithium brine projects are Kachi and Olaroz/Cauchari, located adjacent to major world class brine projects either in production or being developed in the highly prospective Jujuy and Catamarca Provinces. The Olaroz-Cauchari project is located in the same basin as Orocobre's Olaroz lithium production and adjoins SQM/Gangfeng/Lithium Americas Cauchari project, with high grade lithium (600 mg/L) with high flow rates drilled immediately across the lease boundary. Drilling is planned to commence in early October 2018 Cauchari with a three hole programme to intersect and extend the same lithium brine aquifers identified in the adjoining world-class lithium resource. Lake Resources aims to repeat the same high grade lithium results in its leases as the recent geophysics shows the likely extension of the same horizon into Lake's leases. Drilling will follow later at Olaroz once the methodology is proven at Cauchari.
The Kachi project covers 50,000 Ha over a salt lake south of FMC's lithium operation and near Albemarle's Antofalla project. Drilling at Kachi has confirmed a large lithium brine bearing basin over 22km long and over 400m deep. Drilling over Kachi is aimed to produce a resource statement in 2018, anticipated in Oct 2018. A new direct extraction method is being tested in partnership with Lilac Solutions which promises far higher recoveries and in significantly shorter timelines, which will be trialled in tandem with conventional methods as part of a PFS after the resource statement. Scope exists to unlock considerable value through partnerships and corporate deals in the near-term.
Significant corporate transactions continue in adjacent leases with development of SQM/Gangfeng/Lithium Americas Cauchari project. Gangfeng recently announced a US$237 million transaction to acquire 37% of the project from SQM, with a two year timeline to initial production. Projects nearby to Kachi and FMC's Hombre Muerto were recently acquired via a takeover offer of C$265 million for Lithium X, completed in March 2018, and the northern half of Galaxy's Sal de Vida resource, purchased for US$280 million by POSCO in June 2018. Major players in the lithium supply chain continue to secure prime projects in the best locations globally.
The demand for lithium continues to be strong for lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles, according to recent data from the leading independent battery minerals consultant - Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Supply continues to be constrained suggesting good opportunities for upstream lithium companies for many years.
Lake Resources NL