Annual Report to Shareholders 2018
The Company has advanced significantly this financial year in demonstrating the size and scale of its Kachi Lithium project and in securing access to its Olaroz-Cauchari Lithium Project. These two flagship projects are well positioned to deliver shareholders significant growth as substantial stand alone development projects to be developed solely or in conjunction with a strategic partner. Together with a further brine project and a hard rock project, these make Lake one of the largest lease holders of lithium brine and hard rock projects (~180,000 hectares) of a listed entity on the ASX.
The lithium project areas were pegged before the mid-late 2016 "rush" to acquire leases in Argentina. The Company completed a transaction on 14 November 2016 (announced May 2016) which acquired the unlisted company LithNRG Pty Ltd, with well-located prime lithium brine projects in three large packages of tenement applications around salt lakes in North West Argentina. The last remaining tranche of shares and options was issued in March 2018 upon completion of the last milestone, involving tenure at Olaroz-Cauchari.
Lake controls 100% of the subsidiary LithNRG Pty Ltd with its Argentine subsidiaries, Minerales Australes SA and Morena del Valle Minerals SA, and post 30 June, acquired control of Petra Energy SA which holds the hard rock leases.
A capital raising of $4.5 million before costs (33.33 million LKE shares at $0.135), by way of private placement, was completed in March 2018, with an attached 1-for-2 option at $0.20 (16.66 million options, expiry 15 Dec 2018). Broker options were issued as part of the transaction at $0.20 (9.5 million options, expiry 15 Dec 2018). On 4 April 2018 the Company issued 25,000,000 new Ordinary Shares in LKE at $0.05 per share following the conversion of Class A options, with an exercise price of $0.05. On 3 November 2017, the Company secured commitments to raise $1.665 million before costs by way of the issue of 1,665,000 unsecured notes (Notes) to sophisticated and professional investors with a right to purchase a 1-for-2 option at $0.20 (16.66 million options, expiry 15 Dec 2018), and these notes were repaid in April 2018. The three tranches of 20c options were converted into 42.81 million listed LKEO1 options (at $0.20, expiry 15 Dec 2018). on 18 June 2018, after a short form prospectus and shareholder approval.
The Company had 305,638,867 shares on issue at 30 June 2018, with 42,816,667 listed LKEO1 options at $0.20 (expiry 15 Dec 2018) and 19,200,000 listed LKEO options at $0.10 (expiry 27 Aug 2018) and 5,042,494 unlisted options at $0.05 (expiry 30 Nov 2018), 6,250,000 unlisted options at $0.05 (expiry 21 Oct 2019) and 9,500,000 unlisted options at $0.28 (expiry 31 Dec 2020), plus LTI Performance Rights of 2,500,000 with an option agreement over hard rock leases (now exercised post 30 June) which would result in an issuance of 19,000,000 LKE shares.
Lake has held a number of initial discussions with potential strategic partners and offtake partners, predominantly in China, Japan, Korea and India, to secure a down stream partner to develop each project, with a focus on the Kachi Project once the resource is released. The Company has engaged corporate advisors in Asia, North America and the UK, together with public research analyst commentary on the Company.
Corporate activity adjacent to the Lake projects has reaffirmed the prime location of the projects. POSCO announced the US$280 million acquisition of the northern resource of Galaxy's lithium brine project, approximately 100 km north of the Kachi Project. Post 30 June, Gangfeng Lithium (#2 lithium producer) announced the US$237 million acquisition of SQM's 37% of the Cauchari project, together with Lithium Americas - and this project is located 450 metres from Lake's Cauchari project.
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About Lake Resources NL
Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE) is a lithium exploration and development company focused on developing its three lithium brine projects and 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 (~200,000Ha) secured in 2016 prior to a significant 'rush' by major companies. The large holdings provide the potential to provide consistent security of supply demanded by battery makers and electric vehicle manufacturers.
The Kachi project covers 69,000 ha over a salt lake south of FMC's lithium operation and near Albemarle's Antofalla project in Catamarca Province. Drilling at Kachi has confirmed a large lithium brine bearing basin over 20km long, 15km wide and 400m to 800m deep. Drilling over Kachi (currently 16 drill holes, 3100m) has produced a maiden indicated and inferred resource of 4.4 Mt LCE (Indicated 1.0Mt and Inferred 3.4Mt) within a 8-17 Mt LCE exploration target (refer ASX announcement 27 November 2018).
A direct extraction technique is being tested in partnership with Lilac Solutions, which has shown 80-90% recoveries and lithium brine concentrations in excess of 3000 mg/L lithium and is planned to be trialled on site in tandem with conventional methods as part of a PFS to follow the resource statement. Scope exists to unlock considerable value through partnerships and corporate deals in the near term.
The Olaroz-Cauchari and Paso brine projects are located adjacent to major world class brine projects either in production or being developed in the highly prospective Jujuy Province. The Olaroz-Cauchari project is located in the same basin as Orocobre's Olaroz lithium production and adjoins Ganfeng Lithium/Lithium Americas Cauchari project, with high grade lithium (600 mg/L) with high flow rates drilled immediately across the lease boundary.
Two drill rigs are currently drilling at Cauchari with results anticipated to extend the proven resources in adjoining properties into LKE's area with results anticipated from November into December 2018. This will be followed by drilling extensions to the Olaroz area in LKE's 100% owned Olaroz leases.
Significant corporate transactions continue in adjacent leases with development of Ganfeng Lithium/Lithium Americas Cauchari project with Ganfeng announcing a US$237 million for 37% of the Cauchari project previously held by SQM. Nearby projects of Lithium X were acquired via a takeover offer of C$265 million completed March 2018. The northern half of Galaxy's Sal de Vida resource was purchased for US$280 million by POSCO in June 2018. These transactions imply an acquisition cost of US$55-110 million per 1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in resources.
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.
Lake Resources NL