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Apple Working on TV Show Adapted From Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ Novels

Apple has inked a deal for a TV series adaption of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation science fiction novels, reports Deadline. The series, created by Skydance television, is in development for straight-to-series consideration.

Skydance last June scored the …

Apple has inked a deal for a TV series adaption of Isaac Asimov's Foundation science fiction novels, reports Deadline. The series, created by Skydance television, is in development for straight-to-series consideration.

Skydance last June scored the rights to Asimov's estate, and since then, David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman, who will serve as executive producers and showrunners, have been working on developing a TV show based on the Foundation books. Goyer has previously worked on "The Dark Knight," "Batman Begins," Ghost Rider," and more, while Friedman is known for "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Emerald City."

Foundation is Isaac Asimov's most popular and well-known science fiction series, which includes titular novel Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation, along with additional books Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth.

The series follows psychohistory expert and mathematician Hari Seldon who is able to predict the future. Seldon creates a group called the Foundation to preserve humanity's collective knowledge ahead of the impending fall of the Galactic Empire. The novels span many years and cover the rise and fall of multiple empires, so it isn't a simple undertaking to adapt it into a TV show.

Along with the Foundation-based TV show, Apple is working on several other science fiction shows, including a reboot of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories," an untitled space drama developed by Ronald D. Moore, best known for the 2004 reboot of "Battlestar Galactica," and an epic world-building drama called "See," which is set in the future.

Apple has more than a dozen TV shows in development in total, and rumors have suggested we could see the first of these debut starting in 2019. For a full list of what Apple's working on, make sure to check out the original content section of our Apple TV roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

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This Morning in Metals: China Files Complaint at WTO Over U.S. Tariffs

This morning in metals news, China filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, the president of the China Baowu Steel Group says the tariffs would have a limited impact on Chinese exports and LME al…

This morning in metals news, China filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, the president of the China Baowu Steel Group says the tariffs would have a limited impact on Chinese exports and LME aluminum prices jumped more than 7% after the U.S. sanctions on Russian...

The post This Morning in Metals: China Files Complaint at WTO Over U.S. Tariffs appeared first on Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Stainless, Rare Earth, Metal Prices, Forecasting | MetalMiner.

Vimeo Launches macOS App Aimed at Final Cut Pro Users

Vimeo today announced a new “Vimeo for macOS” app that brings some of the service’s core functionalities to Mac computers, particularly aimed at creators using Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing software. While users could already upload to Vimeo from…

Vimeo today announced a new "Vimeo for macOS" app that brings some of the service's core functionalities to Mac computers, particularly aimed at creators using Apple's Final Cut Pro video editing software. While users could already upload to Vimeo from Final Cut Pro, the company noted that its new Mac app gives Final Cut Pro users "more control over file formats and video codecs."


Specifically, Vimeo will integrate with Final Cut Pro to export ProRes videos, manage uploads, share videos for team reviews or to post on the platform. Vimeo said users will also be able to upload multiple files at once, track upload progress in the Mac status bar, and more.

The company hopes that the Mac app will streamline creators' workflows by simplifying the export and upload process.
- Export as ProRes and other advanced codecs from Final Cut Pro
- Upload directly to your Vimeo account
- Adjust the title, description, and privacy settings for your videos
- Get instant access to video links, video review pages, and embed codes
- Receive notifications about important video activity

And you can enjoy it all without going into your internet browser. Meaning you get the features you need most, right when and where you need them.
Once the new Vimeo app is installed users can connect to Final Cut Pro by restarting Apple's app and looking for Vimeo in their share destinations. The company also mentioned that it plans to provide ongoing updates to the Mac app, and is open to feedback from the creator community.

Final Cut Pro updated yesterday with version 10.4.1, introducing the new ProRes RAW format. Apple said that this format combines the visual and workflow benefits of RAW video with the performance of ProRes, a lossy video compression format developed by the company for post-production. The update also added advanced closed captioning tools and enhanced export tools.


Vimeo for macOS launches a few months after the company announced support for high dynamic range videos on its apps for iPhone X, 2017 iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K. Vimeo's HDR videos support the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) format to keep file sizes at manageable levels, letting HDR video makers upload to Vimeo "in the highest color accuracy possible."

Those interested can download Vimeo for macOS for free from the Mac App Store [Direct Link].


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PayPal Discounts $100 iTunes Gift Cards to $85 as iTunes Launches New Movie Sales

PayPal’s Digital Gifts eBay storefront today launched another 15 percent discount on $100 App Store and iTunes gift cards, which the company has been doing once a month since February. While the deal lasts, those with a PayPal account can purchase the $100 iTunes gift cards for $85, which will then be delivered via email a few hours later. The gift cards will only be valid on purchases made in the United States App and iTunes Stores.

For those adding more credit onto their iTunes accounts, the iTunes Movies store refreshed today with a handful of new sales on both HD and 4K HDR films. We’ve rounded up a few of these movies below, alongside notable ongoing film discounts. Besides movie rentals and purchases on iTunes, these gift cards can be used for Apple Music and other iTunes billing subscriptions, album and iBooks purchases, and more.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with eBay. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

4K HDR

HD

Head over to our full Deals Roundup to check out more of this week’s sales and discounts.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

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PayPal's Digital Gifts eBay storefront today launched another 15 percent discount on $100 App Store and iTunes gift cards, which the company has been doing once a month since February. While the deal lasts, those with a PayPal account can purchase the $100 iTunes gift cards for $85, which will then be delivered via email a few hours later. The gift cards will only be valid on purchases made in the United States App and iTunes Stores.

For those adding more credit onto their iTunes accounts, the iTunes Movies store refreshed today with a handful of new sales on both HD and 4K HDR films. We've rounded up a few of these movies below, alongside notable ongoing film discounts. Besides movie rentals and purchases on iTunes, these gift cards can be used for Apple Music and other iTunes billing subscriptions, album and iBooks purchases, and more.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with eBay. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

4K HDR
HD
Head over to our full Deals Roundup to check out more of this week's sales and discounts.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

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Apple Shares (RED) iPhone 8 Ad on YouTube

Apple today shared its first ad for the brand new (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on its YouTube channel.

The 30-second video, set to the song “That’s It (I’m Crazy)” by Sofi Tukker, provides a close up look at the glossy red finish and front black bezels, which was a highly requested design after Apple used white front bezels last year. The ad first appeared on Apple’s homepage on Monday.

The new (RED) models became available to order earlier today, with the first deliveries and in-store availability at Apple Stores and select resellers slated to begin Friday, April 13 in the United States and several other countries.

Namely, other launch countries include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Availability in Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and other regions will follow later in April, followed by Chile, Colombia, India, Israel, Turkey, and more regions in May.

The new color is part of Apple’s 11-year partnership with (RED), founded in 2006 by U2 frontman Bono and activist Bobby Shriver. The brand and its licensed red-colored products helps to raise funds for The Global Fund, which helps people affected by HIV or AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in eight African countries.

For each (RED) product sold, Apple makes a contribution to The Global Fund, raising over $160 million to date.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral)

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple today shared its first ad for the brand new (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on its YouTube channel.


The 30-second video, set to the song "That's It (I'm Crazy)" by Sofi Tukker, provides a close up look at the glossy red finish and front black bezels, which was a highly requested design after Apple used white front bezels last year. The ad first appeared on Apple's homepage on Monday.

The new (RED) models became available to order earlier today, with the first deliveries and in-store availability at Apple Stores and select resellers slated to begin Friday, April 13 in the United States and several other countries.

Namely, other launch countries include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Availability in Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and other regions will follow later in April, followed by Chile, Colombia, India, Israel, Turkey, and more regions in May.

The new color is part of Apple's 11-year partnership with (RED), founded in 2006 by U2 frontman Bono and activist Bobby Shriver. The brand and its licensed red-colored products helps to raise funds for The Global Fund, which helps people affected by HIV or AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in eight African countries.

For each (RED) product sold, Apple makes a contribution to The Global Fund, raising over $160 million to date.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral)

Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Launches Help Center Tool to Check if Your Data Was Shared With Cambridge Analytica

Facebook today launched a new section of its Help Center focusing on user data breaches following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that’s been ongoing for the past few weeks. The updated Help Center tool allows you to check to see if any of your Faceboo…

Facebook today launched a new section of its Help Center focusing on user data breaches following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that's been ongoing for the past few weeks. The updated Help Center tool allows you to check to see if any of your Facebook data was shared with Cambridge Analytica (via Matt Navarra).

The tool specifically details whether or not you or any of your friends ever logged into "This Is Your Digital Life," a quiz app that Cambridge Analytica used to steal information and tailor political messages towards Facebook users. If you or someone you know was affected by the app, Facebook details what information was shared with Cambridge Analytica, including topics like public profile, page likes, birthday, current city, and more.


Besides the new tool, Facebook has been sharing numerous blog posts in recent weeks about the security and privacy of its users. Most recently, chief technology officer Mike Shroepfer outlined several changes coming to Facebook APIs that will limit the amount of data that apps can collect from users. The company also promised to more prominently notify users of what apps are using their data in links atop their News Feeds, which started appearing for some users yesterday.

Facebook's Help Center tool launches the same day that company CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be testifying before Congress at 2:15 p.m. PT. According to prepared remarks released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Zuckerberg is expected to state that Facebook "didn't do enough" to prevent multiple issues from spreading on the social network, namely data privacy.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has commented on the ongoing Facebook data scandal, telling Recode's Kara Swisher "I wouldn't be in this situation," when asked what he would do right now if he was Mark Zuckerberg. He elaborated: "We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers. If our customers were our product. We've elected not to do that. ...We're not going to traffic in your personal life."

On that topic, Zuckerberg responded by stating that Cook's comments were "not at all aligned with the truth," and that just because Facebook is free to use doesn't mean that the company doesn't care about its customers.

As of the most recent reports, 87 million people have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook, 70 million of which are located in the United States.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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(PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Now Available to Order

As promised, special (PRODUCT)RED editions of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus unveiled yesterday are now available to order on Apple.com and through the Apple Store app on iPhone and iPad in the United States and several other countries.


The new models are available with 64GB or 256GB storage for the same prices as the equivalent iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models in Apple’s standard space gray, silver, and gold colorways, which remain available.

  • iPhone 8 / (RED) / 64GB: $699
  • iPhone 8 / (RED) / 256GB: $849
  • iPhone 8 Plus / (RED) / 64GB: $799
  • iPhone 8 Plus / (RED) / 256GB: $949

The first deliveries will arrive to customers Friday, April 13, and in-store availability at Apple Stores and select authorized resellers will begin on the same day in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Availability in Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and other regions will follow later in April, followed by Chile, Colombia, India, Israel, Turkey, and more regions in May.

While the (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus had white front bezels, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus versions have black front bezels. Otherwise, these iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models are identical to those unveiled last September, with the new color likely introduced to boost sales.

Apple’s new (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone X Leather Folio is also available to purchase for $99 starting today from Apple.com, Apple Stores, and the Apple Store app in dozens of countries around the world.


The products are part of Apple’s 11-year partnership with (RED), founded in 2006 by U2 frontman Bono and activist Bobby Shriver. The brand and its licensed red-colored products helps to raise funds for The Global Fund, which helps people affected by HIV or AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in eight African countries.

For each (RED) product sold, Apple makes a contribution to The Global Fund, raising over $160 million to date.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral)

Discuss this article in our forums

As promised, special (PRODUCT)RED editions of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus unveiled yesterday are now available to order on Apple.com and through the Apple Store app on iPhone and iPad in the United States and several other countries.


The new models are available with 64GB or 256GB storage for the same prices as the equivalent iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models in Apple's standard space gray, silver, and gold colorways, which remain available.
  • iPhone 8 / (RED) / 64GB: $699
  • iPhone 8 / (RED) / 256GB: $849
  • iPhone 8 Plus / (RED) / 64GB: $799
  • iPhone 8 Plus / (RED) / 256GB: $949

The first deliveries will arrive to customers Friday, April 13, and in-store availability at Apple Stores and select authorized resellers will begin on the same day in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Availability in Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and other regions will follow later in April, followed by Chile, Colombia, India, Israel, Turkey, and more regions in May.

While the (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus had white front bezels, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus versions have black front bezels. Otherwise, these iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models are identical to those unveiled last September, with the new color likely introduced to boost sales.

Apple's new (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone X Leather Folio is also available to purchase for $99 starting today from Apple.com, Apple Stores, and the Apple Store app in dozens of countries around the world.


The products are part of Apple's 11-year partnership with (RED), founded in 2006 by U2 frontman Bono and activist Bobby Shriver. The brand and its licensed red-colored products helps to raise funds for The Global Fund, which helps people affected by HIV or AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in eight African countries.

For each (RED) product sold, Apple makes a contribution to The Global Fund, raising over $160 million to date.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral)

Discuss this article in our forums

IKEA Unveils Minimalist ‘Eneby’ Line of Bluetooth Speakers

Swedish furniture seller IKEA has unveiled the first in a new line of minimalist Bluetooth speakers from the company.

Called Eneby, the Scandinavian-styled units come in 8-inch and 12-inch sizes, can be wall- or stand- mounted, and are made to fit in IKEA’s Kallax and Eket storage systems.


The plastic speakers come with a mesh polyester fabric front panel that can be removed to expose the drivers, and a knob on the front of the speaker controls power, bass, treble, or volume.

A 3.5mm auxiliary output around the back lets you attach a wired device, while the smaller 8-inch speaker also features a carry handle and an optional battery pack for portability.


Up to eight Bluetooth devices can be connected to a single Eneby speaker at a time, so there’s no need to disconnect one user to make way for another.

IKEA’s Eneby 8-inch speaker costs $49 and is available in white, gray, or black, while the 12-inch model costs $89 and comes in black or white.

The battery pack for the smaller speaker is sold separately for $20, and you can also buy black speaker stands for $10 each that fit both sizes.

Last year, IKEA brought to market its own Apple HomeKit-compatible smart Lighting range of products called Trådfri. The range includes LED bulbs, a remote dimmer switch puck, a gateway kit, a motion sensor kit, and dimming lights.

Tag: Ikea

Discuss this article in our forums

Swedish furniture seller IKEA has unveiled the first in a new line of minimalist Bluetooth speakers from the company.

Called Eneby, the Scandinavian-styled units come in 8-inch and 12-inch sizes, can be wall- or stand- mounted, and are made to fit in IKEA's Kallax and Eket storage systems.


The plastic speakers come with a mesh polyester fabric front panel that can be removed to expose the drivers, and a knob on the front of the speaker controls power, bass, treble, or volume.

A 3.5mm auxiliary output around the back lets you attach a wired device, while the smaller 8-inch speaker also features a carry handle and an optional battery pack for portability.


Up to eight Bluetooth devices can be connected to a single Eneby speaker at a time, so there's no need to disconnect one user to make way for another.

IKEA's Eneby 8-inch speaker costs $49 and is available in white, gray, or black, while the 12-inch model costs $89 and comes in black or white.

The battery pack for the smaller speaker is sold separately for $20, and you can also buy black speaker stands for $10 each that fit both sizes.

Last year, IKEA brought to market its own Apple HomeKit-compatible smart Lighting range of products called Trådfri. The range includes LED bulbs, a remote dimmer switch puck, a gateway kit, a motion sensor kit, and dimming lights.

Tag: Ikea

Discuss this article in our forums

Lithium Explorer Cashed Up, Actively Exploring Giant Land Package in Argentina

Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports   04/10/2018

Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a lithium explorer with projects in Argentina that is actively moving to Molecular Recognition Technology for metal separation.

In the past several months, two Preliminary Economic Assessments (PEAs) have been released on lithium brine projects in Argentina. Neo Lithium [TSX-V: NLC] reported on its Tres Quebradas project, and Millennial Lithium [TSX-V: ML] delivered a PEA on its Pastos Grandes project.

A noteworthy observation is the timeline to reach full capacity. Initial production for each is slated for 2021, with a three-year ramp up period through 2023. Of course, that assumes everything goes according to plan. Yet, readers need look no further then Argentina lithium brine operator Orocobre Ltd. [TSX: ORL] to recognize the difficulties involved in exploring, permitting, developing, funding, delivering feasibility and environmental studies, designing, constructing and troubleshooting solar evaporation ponds.

Looking back at Orocobre’s June 2015 corporate presentation, on page 3 it says, “Production is expected to meet the nameplate monthly run rate of 1,450 tonnes of lithium carbonate (~17,500 tonnes annualized) during Q4 CY 2015.” Fast forward nearly three years…. Orocobre is forecasting a FY ending June 2018 total of 12,600 tonnes. (~72% of nameplate capacity). As an aside, this says a lot about the global lithium industry’s ability to ramp up production quickly! Lithium prices have soared, yet the supply response has been lethargic.

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Looking forward, if/when one or more accelerated lithium extraction technologies are proven technically and economically viable at commercial-scale, there could be a backlash against conventional ponds. Projects well underway, like Neo Lithium’s, Millennial Lithium’s, Galaxy Resources’ [ASX: GXY] Sal de Vida,Lithium X’s Sal de los Angeles (recently acquired for C$265 M by a Chinese group) and Lithium Americas’ [TSX: LAC] / SQM’s [NYSE: SQM] Caucharí-Olaroz will almost certainly be allowed to operate.

However, new projects with first production not until the mid-to-late-2020s, could face fatal challenges in permitting. Therefore, the door is wide open for prospective projects that propose to use technology that bypasses evaporation ponds. To be clear, embracing an accelerated Li brine extraction technology, none of which is proven at commercial-scale, introduces a new set of risks, but risks that I believe are well worth taking.

Huge Land Position + New Tech in Top Lithium Brine Jurisdiction

Lithium Energi Exploration Inc. (LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE) (LEXI) is a lithium brine junior with three project areas in northwestern Argentina in and around the Antofalla salar in Catamarca province. Management is proactively making a move to sidestep evaporation ponds by aligning with a proven metals separation methodology called MRT, which stands for Molecular Recognition Technology. LEXI proposes to use MRT for the accelerated extraction and purification of lithium from brine solution.

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LEXI holds title to 90,244 hectares (ha) of Li brine-prospective properties in Catamarca province, plus rights of first refusals (ROFRs) to acquire 148,839 additional ha, of which 110,380 ha are located in the Antofalla Salar complex, and 38,459 ha are in the Pipanaco Salar, ~50 km due west of Catamarca city. If LEXI executes its ROFRs on the incremental land, it would become the single largest Li brine property holder in all of Argentina, bigger than FMC Corp [NYSE: FMC] and Albemarle Corp. [NYSE: ALB]. LSC Lithium [TSX-V: LSC] is the current leader; it controls a net 234,519 ha across multiple provinces, in five main project areas.

Located less than 20 km west of FMC’s lithium operation (Argentina’s largest lithium producer) in northern Catamarca province, the Antofalla Salar hosts one of the largest basins in region. It’s over 130 km long and up to 5-10 km wide. In September 2016, Albemarle, the world’s largest producer of lithium products, announced the acquisition of exploration and acquisition rights in the center section of this salar, and expressed its belief that Antofalla “will be certified as the largest lithium resource in Argentina.”

Besides Albemarle, several other public companies have property in and around Antofalla. Advantage Lithium [TSX-V: AAL] has 10,653 ha on the northern tip of the salar. Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. [TSX-V: LIT] just last week locked up ~14,300 ha, also in the northern part of the salar.

And, Ultra Lithium [TSX-V: ULI] has 5,400 ha near some of LEXI’s property. Advantage, Ultra, Argentina Lithium and LEXI surround Albemarle’s central position in the salar. Successful drill results from Albemarle or any of LEXI’s neighbors would be great news for the company.

What Could LEXI’s Extensive Early-Stage Properties Be Worth?

While it’s hard to place a value on green field Li brine properties in northwestern Argentina, there have been recent transactions of parcels, some green field, others with historical exploration data, that could offer rough guidance. Not much is known (in the public domain) about the Antofalla salar, except that 56 “test wells” were completed between 2008-2011 that averaged 350 mg/L Li.

Argentina Lithium & Energy’s recent transaction including a block of 5,300 ha works out to about ~C$860/ha. This property comes with work commitments totaling US$ 7 million over four years. Work commitments are not a bad thing—active exploration is to be expected—but not having them offers maximum funding and exploration flexibility. LEXI has no work commitments on any of its land, including parcels controlled under ROFRs.

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A new entrant to Argentina (first new name since LSC Lithium a year ago), Dempsey Minerals [ASX: DMI], is optioning ~4,500 ha in the Hombre Muerto salar of Catamarca. The acquisition cost, which includes shares, stock options and performance shares, equals ~C$1,000/ha. LEXI has no shares, options or performance shares associated with any of its property, or land controlled under ROFRs.

In December of last year, Millennial Lithium agreed to pay ~C$2,300/ha plus a 3.5% royalty over 36 months for a 100% interest in 2,492 ha in Salta province. That land had key strategic value (because it was contiguous to its flagship project, with known Li values). It’s worth noting that none of LEXI’s properties, including those controlled under ROFRs, have third-party royalties attached.

In November, LSC announced three transactions, it acquired the 2,595 ha Mina Teresa property in Salinas Grandes salar, Jujuy province for about ~C$980/ha, a 583-ha parcel in Salta province for ~C$1,970/ha and another 1,472 ha in Salta for ~C$590/ha.

In October, AIS Resources [TSX-V: AIS] agreed to pay ~C$885/ha for two projects totaling 7,750 ha in Jujuy province. The properties had historical surface samples showing decent Li values and low magnesium levels, as well as geophysical surveys on them. In May, Liberty Lithium agreed to pay US$5.5 million over 42 months for 70% of a 15,857-ha plot in Salta province, which equated to ~C$670/ha.

Some of these transactions, into the thousands of dollars per hectare, are not directly comparable to LEXI’s unexplored property, but serve as an example of how valuable hectares can become if solid drill results lead to favorable mineral resource estimates, and perhaps even promising PEAs.

http://EpsteinResearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Screen-Shot-2018-04-05-at-3.11.17-PM.png

The above chart shows what LEXI’s 90,244 hectares could be worth at various C$/ha milestones. I leave it to the reader to take a stab at valuation, the range of possibilities is quite large. The current share price is C$0.415. So, LEXI is trading at under C$300/ha….

If LEXI executes its ROFRs, it could eventually own a combined {90,244 + 148,839 = 239,083 ha}. Without me guessing how much 239,083 ha might be worth, I simply point out that at today’s share price, LEXI would be trading at a market valuation of ~C$109/ha if it were to execute its ROFRs. Here are several Argentina-focused lithium brine peers. These eight are trading at an average of about C$720/ha.

http://EpsteinResearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Screen-Shot-2018-04-09-at-9.20.53-PM.png

LEXI is working on green field prospects, so there’s a chance they won’t find robust lithium values. But, all early-stage companies working in Argentina and Chile face the same risk. Importantly, LEXI’s Li grade hurdle is probably lower than that of peers. Why? MRT is so selective and efficient, that it should be able to accept lower-grade brine feedstock and still produce a valuable end product at low cost.

Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) Revisited

The lower the Li grade, the greater the volume of brine that has to be pumped through the MRT facility, and the higher the cost. With MRT, process flow engineering is more of a constraint than brine chemistry.

Think of it this way, MRT’s recovery is two to three times higher than that achieved with conventional evaporation ponds, so the Li grade going into the MRT system need only be one-third to one-half as high. In northwestern Argentina, Li grades appear to range from about 300-400 mg/L Li for salars like Rincon and Antofalla, 500-550 mg/L Li for Millennial’s project in Salta, to 700-750 mg/L Li for Neo Lithium’s Tres Quebradas in Catamarca.

http://EpsteinResearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Screen-Shot-2018-04-09-at-9.39.20-PM.png

So, potentially in production sooner and cheaper, highly scalable via modular additions to reach production levels equal to the plans of most of the larger players. Importantly, by ramping up modularly, LEXI could significantly (but not necessarily entirely) self-fund growth cap-ex.

All of these plans are great on paper, but what about funding? LEXI has secured a C$16 million credit facility from Arena Investors, LP, a major U.S. institutional investor. The facility is structured as an unsecured lending arrangement with up to five tranches (each a “Note”), specifically being an initial C$4 million tranche at closing, (LEXI has drawn down the C$4 million) and up to four C$3 million tranches (Notes) thereafter.

This substantial liquidity should allow the company to complete a resource estimate on a large portion of its properties in the next 12 months.

In August of last year, LEXI executed an agreement with privately held IBC Advanced Technologies (IBC) to utilize the metals separation technology known as Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) for highly selective lithium extraction. From testing to commercial operations, MRT has repeatedly been proven as one of the most advanced, efficient and eco-friendly refining technologies in the world for segregating metals, at commercial-scale, in both mining and recycling applications, with up to 99.99% purity. NOTE: MRT is not proven at commercial-scale for Li extraction from brines.

Actually, that’s (both) 99%+ purity AND 99%+ recovery of Li, from a single run through a closed loop system. Those figures come from actual lab-scale results of MRT Li extraction from brines.

IBC has started full-scale engineering for a small commercial-scale processing plant in Catamarca province, Argentina. The facility will be modular, making it highly scalable, with an initial configuration of 1,000 tonnes per year of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE). It will be designed to be able to ramp up to as much as 25,000 tonnes of LCE.

The completion of engineering will give LEXI full design drawings, equipment specifications, tank, pump, and column sizes, feed preparation, process flow and block diagrams, instrumentation and final piping arrays, sequential step descriptions for all input/output changes, all valve diagrams, and a complete operating manual.

If all goes according to plan, IBC’s engineering could be completed around the same time that LEXI achieves its first resource estimates.

http://EpsteinResearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Screen-Shot-2018-04-09-at-9.42.22-PM.png

Exploration Efforts Off to Great Start

On March 27, management announced positive results from its initial geophysical surveys on parts of the northern section of its holdings in the Antofalla Salar. Interpreted brine horizons were detected throughout the entire 80 sq. km (8,000 hectare) area, suggesting the possibility of lithium-bearing brine. Conductive horizons were detected from just below surface to about 400 meters deep.

LEXI’s Director of Exploration, Miles Rideout, noted, “Having conducted or supervised the acquisition of thousands of kilometers of TEM soundings in brine environments over the last thirty years, I’m pleased to report that the initial geophysical results exceeded our expectations.”

LEXI’s CEO, Steven Howard added, “There are published assay results from drilling in the same basin just 3 km south of these properties and Argentina’s largest lithium producer is just 30 km to the east… Interpreting such an extensive volume of potential subsurface lithium brines in this first step of our exploration program is significant.”

Although resistivity values from TEM surveys cannot confirm the presence or grade of lithium, the survey results to date have identified highly conductive zones consistent with similar lithium-bearing brine aquifers known to exist in the region.

“Based on comparative results with similar sedimentary salar strata where lithium-bearing brines are hosted, these data indicate a likely-continuous, buried horizon of high conductivity in this part of the Antofalla basin complex.”

With such compelling initial geophysical results, plans for LEXI’s drilling campaign later this year are well underway to test for chemistry, lithology, porosity, pump rates, and other hydrogeological factors.

Strategic Partners Kicking the Tires?

There’s been a lot of JV/merger talk coming from western Australia hard rock lithium players this year. Many pundits believe that Argentina will soon follow on the consolidation front. While it’s too early for LEXI to be taken out (it has good balance sheet liquidity and tremendous exploration upside, why would it sell now?)—it’s great to know that the company already has a seat at the table when major and mid-tier battery and automakers get serious about locking up supply from Argentina.

A few weeks ago, CEO Steven Howard traveled to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Seoul & Tokyo with his corporate financial advisory team, Jett Capital Advisors. He met with prominent battery/cathode manufacturers, and energy materials companies. Members of Jett Capital are returning to Asia for follow-up meetings this week.

http://EpsteinResearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Screen-Shot-2018-04-09-at-9.16.53-PM.png

There are 13 Argentina-focused lithium juniors on my list: two are still quite tiny, three are already aligned with larger partners, and one has outperformed the pack, leaving it with a market cap of > C$250 million—that leaves just seven names of interest …. but many dozens of suitors, not just from Asia, but from Europe and Scandinavia. Not just battery and cathode manufacturers, but global electric vehicle companies. Not just electric vehicles (including buses and trucks), but commercial and grid-scale storage solutions providers.

Conclusion

The combination of a very large land portfolio and a promising technology, (albeit unproven specifically for Lithium at commercial-scale), could enable LEXI to reach production at its designated rate of 1,000 tonnes LCE/yr before better known brine projects in Argentina and Chile. If LEXI is successful, it would be in production at a total cost well below what peers are looking at to design/construct ponds and processing facilities.

Funding for at least the remainder of the year is taken care of through LEXI’s non-dilutive debt arrangement with Arena Investors, LP. Simply put, I know of no other early-stage lithium juniors with this impressive a package of attributes and a market cap of just ~US$ 20 million.

Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis, and he is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Disclosures: The content of this article is for information only. Readers fully understand and agree that nothing contained herein, written by Peter Epstein of Epstein Research [ER], (together, [ER]) about Lithium Energi, including but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, calculations, etc. is to be considered implicit or explicit investment advice. Nothing contained herein is a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security. [ER] is not responsible under any circumstances for investment actions taken by the reader. [ER] has never been, and is not currently, a registered or licensed financial advisor or broker/dealer, investment advisor, stockbroker, trader, money manager, compliance or legal officer, and does not perform market making activities. [ER] is not directly employed by any company, group, organization, party or person. The shares of Lithium Energi are highly speculative, not suitable for all investors. Readers understand and agree that investments in small cap stocks can result in a 100% loss of invested funds. It is assumed and agreed upon by readers that they will consult with their own licensed or registered financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

At the time this interview was posted, Peter Epstein owned shares and/or stock options in Lithium Energi and the Company was an advertiser on [ER]. Readers understand and agree that they must conduct their own due diligence above and beyond reading this article. While the author believes he’s diligent in screening out companies that, for any reasons whatsoever, are unattractive investment opportunities, he cannot guarantee that his efforts will (or have been) successful. [ER] is not responsible for any perceived, or actual, errors including, but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts & financial calculations, or for the completeness of this article or future content. [ER] is not expected or required to subsequently follow or cover events & news, or write about any particular company or topic. [ER] is not an expert in any company, industry sector or investment topic.

Want to read more Energy Report articles like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you’ll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent articles and interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Streetwise Interviews page.

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4) The article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility. By opening this page, each reader accepts and agrees to Streetwise Reports’ terms of use and full legal disclaimer. This article is not a solicitation for investment. Streetwise Reports does not render general or specific investment advice and the information on Streetwise Reports should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Streetwise Reports does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company mentioned on Streetwise Reports.
5) From time to time, Streetwise Reports LLC and its directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles and interviews on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned. Directors, officers, employees or members of their immediate families are prohibited from making purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise from the time of the interview or the decision to write an article, until one week after the publication of the interview or article.

Charts and graphics provided by author.

( Companies Mentioned: LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE,
)

Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports   04/10/2018

Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a lithium explorer with projects in Argentina that is actively moving to Molecular Recognition Technology for metal separation.

In the past several months, two Preliminary Economic Assessments (PEAs) have been released on lithium brine projects in Argentina. Neo Lithium [TSX-V: NLC] reported on its Tres Quebradas project, and Millennial Lithium [TSX-V: ML] delivered a PEA on its Pastos Grandes project.

A noteworthy observation is the timeline to reach full capacity. Initial production for each is slated for 2021, with a three-year ramp up period through 2023. Of course, that assumes everything goes according to plan. Yet, readers need look no further then Argentina lithium brine operator Orocobre Ltd. [TSX: ORL] to recognize the difficulties involved in exploring, permitting, developing, funding, delivering feasibility and environmental studies, designing, constructing and troubleshooting solar evaporation ponds.

Looking back at Orocobre's June 2015 corporate presentation, on page 3 it says, "Production is expected to meet the nameplate monthly run rate of 1,450 tonnes of lithium carbonate (~17,500 tonnes annualized) during Q4 CY 2015." Fast forward nearly three years.... Orocobre is forecasting a FY ending June 2018 total of 12,600 tonnes. (~72% of nameplate capacity). As an aside, this says a lot about the global lithium industry's ability to ramp up production quickly! Lithium prices have soared, yet the supply response has been lethargic.

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Looking forward, if/when one or more accelerated lithium extraction technologies are proven technically and economically viable at commercial-scale, there could be a backlash against conventional ponds. Projects well underway, like Neo Lithium's, Millennial Lithium's, Galaxy Resources' [ASX: GXY] Sal de Vida,Lithium X's Sal de los Angeles (recently acquired for C$265 M by a Chinese group) and Lithium Americas' [TSX: LAC] / SQM's [NYSE: SQM] Caucharí-Olaroz will almost certainly be allowed to operate.

However, new projects with first production not until the mid-to-late-2020s, could face fatal challenges in permitting. Therefore, the door is wide open for prospective projects that propose to use technology that bypasses evaporation ponds. To be clear, embracing an accelerated Li brine extraction technology, none of which is proven at commercial-scale, introduces a new set of risks, but risks that I believe are well worth taking.

Huge Land Position + New Tech in Top Lithium Brine Jurisdiction

Lithium Energi Exploration Inc. (LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE) (LEXI) is a lithium brine junior with three project areas in northwestern Argentina in and around the Antofalla salar in Catamarca province. Management is proactively making a move to sidestep evaporation ponds by aligning with a proven metals separation methodology called MRT, which stands for Molecular Recognition Technology. LEXI proposes to use MRT for the accelerated extraction and purification of lithium from brine solution.

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LEXI holds title to 90,244 hectares (ha) of Li brine-prospective properties in Catamarca province, plus rights of first refusals (ROFRs) to acquire 148,839 additional ha, of which 110,380 ha are located in the Antofalla Salar complex, and 38,459 ha are in the Pipanaco Salar, ~50 km due west of Catamarca city. If LEXI executes its ROFRs on the incremental land, it would become the single largest Li brine property holder in all of Argentina, bigger than FMC Corp [NYSE: FMC] and Albemarle Corp. [NYSE: ALB]. LSC Lithium [TSX-V: LSC] is the current leader; it controls a net 234,519 ha across multiple provinces, in five main project areas.

Located less than 20 km west of FMC's lithium operation (Argentina's largest lithium producer) in northern Catamarca province, the Antofalla Salar hosts one of the largest basins in region. It's over 130 km long and up to 5-10 km wide. In September 2016, Albemarle, the world's largest producer of lithium products, announced the acquisition of exploration and acquisition rights in the center section of this salar, and expressed its belief that Antofalla "will be certified as the largest lithium resource in Argentina."

Besides Albemarle, several other public companies have property in and around Antofalla. Advantage Lithium [TSX-V: AAL] has 10,653 ha on the northern tip of the salar. Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. [TSX-V: LIT] just last week locked up ~14,300 ha, also in the northern part of the salar.

And, Ultra Lithium [TSX-V: ULI] has 5,400 ha near some of LEXI's property. Advantage, Ultra, Argentina Lithium and LEXI surround Albemarle's central position in the salar. Successful drill results from Albemarle or any of LEXI's neighbors would be great news for the company.

What Could LEXI's Extensive Early-Stage Properties Be Worth?

While it's hard to place a value on green field Li brine properties in northwestern Argentina, there have been recent transactions of parcels, some green field, others with historical exploration data, that could offer rough guidance. Not much is known (in the public domain) about the Antofalla salar, except that 56 "test wells" were completed between 2008-2011 that averaged 350 mg/L Li.

Argentina Lithium & Energy's recent transaction including a block of 5,300 ha works out to about ~C$860/ha. This property comes with work commitments totaling US$ 7 million over four years. Work commitments are not a bad thing—active exploration is to be expected—but not having them offers maximum funding and exploration flexibility. LEXI has no work commitments on any of its land, including parcels controlled under ROFRs.

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A new entrant to Argentina (first new name since LSC Lithium a year ago), Dempsey Minerals [ASX: DMI], is optioning ~4,500 ha in the Hombre Muerto salar of Catamarca. The acquisition cost, which includes shares, stock options and performance shares, equals ~C$1,000/ha. LEXI has no shares, options or performance shares associated with any of its property, or land controlled under ROFRs.

In December of last year, Millennial Lithium agreed to pay ~C$2,300/ha plus a 3.5% royalty over 36 months for a 100% interest in 2,492 ha in Salta province. That land had key strategic value (because it was contiguous to its flagship project, with known Li values). It's worth noting that none of LEXI's properties, including those controlled under ROFRs, have third-party royalties attached.

In November, LSC announced three transactions, it acquired the 2,595 ha Mina Teresa property in Salinas Grandes salar, Jujuy province for about ~C$980/ha, a 583-ha parcel in Salta province for ~C$1,970/ha and another 1,472 ha in Salta for ~C$590/ha.

In October, AIS Resources [TSX-V: AIS] agreed to pay ~C$885/ha for two projects totaling 7,750 ha in Jujuy province. The properties had historical surface samples showing decent Li values and low magnesium levels, as well as geophysical surveys on them. In May, Liberty Lithium agreed to pay US$5.5 million over 42 months for 70% of a 15,857-ha plot in Salta province, which equated to ~C$670/ha.

Some of these transactions, into the thousands of dollars per hectare, are not directly comparable to LEXI's unexplored property, but serve as an example of how valuable hectares can become if solid drill results lead to favorable mineral resource estimates, and perhaps even promising PEAs.

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The above chart shows what LEXI's 90,244 hectares could be worth at various C$/ha milestones. I leave it to the reader to take a stab at valuation, the range of possibilities is quite large. The current share price is C$0.415. So, LEXI is trading at under C$300/ha....

If LEXI executes its ROFRs, it could eventually own a combined {90,244 + 148,839 = 239,083 ha}. Without me guessing how much 239,083 ha might be worth, I simply point out that at today's share price, LEXI would be trading at a market valuation of ~C$109/ha if it were to execute its ROFRs. Here are several Argentina-focused lithium brine peers. These eight are trading at an average of about C$720/ha.

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LEXI is working on green field prospects, so there's a chance they won't find robust lithium values. But, all early-stage companies working in Argentina and Chile face the same risk. Importantly, LEXI's Li grade hurdle is probably lower than that of peers. Why? MRT is so selective and efficient, that it should be able to accept lower-grade brine feedstock and still produce a valuable end product at low cost.

Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) Revisited

The lower the Li grade, the greater the volume of brine that has to be pumped through the MRT facility, and the higher the cost. With MRT, process flow engineering is more of a constraint than brine chemistry.

Think of it this way, MRT's recovery is two to three times higher than that achieved with conventional evaporation ponds, so the Li grade going into the MRT system need only be one-third to one-half as high. In northwestern Argentina, Li grades appear to range from about 300-400 mg/L Li for salars like Rincon and Antofalla, 500-550 mg/L Li for Millennial's project in Salta, to 700-750 mg/L Li for Neo Lithium's Tres Quebradas in Catamarca.

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So, potentially in production sooner and cheaper, highly scalable via modular additions to reach production levels equal to the plans of most of the larger players. Importantly, by ramping up modularly, LEXI could significantly (but not necessarily entirely) self-fund growth cap-ex.

All of these plans are great on paper, but what about funding? LEXI has secured a C$16 million credit facility from Arena Investors, LP, a major U.S. institutional investor. The facility is structured as an unsecured lending arrangement with up to five tranches (each a "Note"), specifically being an initial C$4 million tranche at closing, (LEXI has drawn down the C$4 million) and up to four C$3 million tranches (Notes) thereafter.

This substantial liquidity should allow the company to complete a resource estimate on a large portion of its properties in the next 12 months.

In August of last year, LEXI executed an agreement with privately held IBC Advanced Technologies (IBC) to utilize the metals separation technology known as Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) for highly selective lithium extraction. From testing to commercial operations, MRT has repeatedly been proven as one of the most advanced, efficient and eco-friendly refining technologies in the world for segregating metals, at commercial-scale, in both mining and recycling applications, with up to 99.99% purity. NOTE: MRT is not proven at commercial-scale for Li extraction from brines.

Actually, that's (both) 99%+ purity AND 99%+ recovery of Li, from a single run through a closed loop system. Those figures come from actual lab-scale results of MRT Li extraction from brines.

IBC has started full-scale engineering for a small commercial-scale processing plant in Catamarca province, Argentina. The facility will be modular, making it highly scalable, with an initial configuration of 1,000 tonnes per year of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE). It will be designed to be able to ramp up to as much as 25,000 tonnes of LCE.

The completion of engineering will give LEXI full design drawings, equipment specifications, tank, pump, and column sizes, feed preparation, process flow and block diagrams, instrumentation and final piping arrays, sequential step descriptions for all input/output changes, all valve diagrams, and a complete operating manual.

If all goes according to plan, IBC's engineering could be completed around the same time that LEXI achieves its first resource estimates.

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Exploration Efforts Off to Great Start

On March 27, management announced positive results from its initial geophysical surveys on parts of the northern section of its holdings in the Antofalla Salar. Interpreted brine horizons were detected throughout the entire 80 sq. km (8,000 hectare) area, suggesting the possibility of lithium-bearing brine. Conductive horizons were detected from just below surface to about 400 meters deep.

LEXI's Director of Exploration, Miles Rideout, noted, "Having conducted or supervised the acquisition of thousands of kilometers of TEM soundings in brine environments over the last thirty years, I'm pleased to report that the initial geophysical results exceeded our expectations."

LEXI's CEO, Steven Howard added, "There are published assay results from drilling in the same basin just 3 km south of these properties and Argentina's largest lithium producer is just 30 km to the east... Interpreting such an extensive volume of potential subsurface lithium brines in this first step of our exploration program is significant."

Although resistivity values from TEM surveys cannot confirm the presence or grade of lithium, the survey results to date have identified highly conductive zones consistent with similar lithium-bearing brine aquifers known to exist in the region.

"Based on comparative results with similar sedimentary salar strata where lithium-bearing brines are hosted, these data indicate a likely-continuous, buried horizon of high conductivity in this part of the Antofalla basin complex."

With such compelling initial geophysical results, plans for LEXI's drilling campaign later this year are well underway to test for chemistry, lithology, porosity, pump rates, and other hydrogeological factors.

Strategic Partners Kicking the Tires?

There's been a lot of JV/merger talk coming from western Australia hard rock lithium players this year. Many pundits believe that Argentina will soon follow on the consolidation front. While it's too early for LEXI to be taken out (it has good balance sheet liquidity and tremendous exploration upside, why would it sell now?)—it's great to know that the company already has a seat at the table when major and mid-tier battery and automakers get serious about locking up supply from Argentina.

A few weeks ago, CEO Steven Howard traveled to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Seoul & Tokyo with his corporate financial advisory team, Jett Capital Advisors. He met with prominent battery/cathode manufacturers, and energy materials companies. Members of Jett Capital are returning to Asia for follow-up meetings this week.

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There are 13 Argentina-focused lithium juniors on my list: two are still quite tiny, three are already aligned with larger partners, and one has outperformed the pack, leaving it with a market cap of > C$250 million—that leaves just seven names of interest .... but many dozens of suitors, not just from Asia, but from Europe and Scandinavia. Not just battery and cathode manufacturers, but global electric vehicle companies. Not just electric vehicles (including buses and trucks), but commercial and grid-scale storage solutions providers.

Conclusion

The combination of a very large land portfolio and a promising technology, (albeit unproven specifically for Lithium at commercial-scale), could enable LEXI to reach production at its designated rate of 1,000 tonnes LCE/yr before better known brine projects in Argentina and Chile. If LEXI is successful, it would be in production at a total cost well below what peers are looking at to design/construct ponds and processing facilities.

Funding for at least the remainder of the year is taken care of through LEXI's non-dilutive debt arrangement with Arena Investors, LP. Simply put, I know of no other early-stage lithium juniors with this impressive a package of attributes and a market cap of just ~US$ 20 million.

Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis, and he is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University's Stern School of Business.

Disclosures: The content of this article is for information only. Readers fully understand and agree that nothing contained herein, written by Peter Epstein of Epstein Research [ER], (together, [ER]) about Lithium Energi, including but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, calculations, etc. is to be considered implicit or explicit investment advice. Nothing contained herein is a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security. [ER] is not responsible under any circumstances for investment actions taken by the reader. [ER] has never been, and is not currently, a registered or licensed financial advisor or broker/dealer, investment advisor, stockbroker, trader, money manager, compliance or legal officer, and does not perform market making activities. [ER] is not directly employed by any company, group, organization, party or person. The shares of Lithium Energi are highly speculative, not suitable for all investors. Readers understand and agree that investments in small cap stocks can result in a 100% loss of invested funds. It is assumed and agreed upon by readers that they will consult with their own licensed or registered financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

At the time this interview was posted, Peter Epstein owned shares and/or stock options in Lithium Energi and the Company was an advertiser on [ER]. Readers understand and agree that they must conduct their own due diligence above and beyond reading this article. While the author believes he's diligent in screening out companies that, for any reasons whatsoever, are unattractive investment opportunities, he cannot guarantee that his efforts will (or have been) successful. [ER] is not responsible for any perceived, or actual, errors including, but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts & financial calculations, or for the completeness of this article or future content. [ER] is not expected or required to subsequently follow or cover events & news, or write about any particular company or topic. [ER] is not an expert in any company, industry sector or investment topic.

Want to read more Energy Report articles like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent articles and interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Streetwise Interviews page.

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2) The following companies mentioned in the article are billboard sponsors of Streetwise Reports: None. Click here for important disclosures about sponsor fees. The information provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security.
3) Statements and opinions expressed are the opinions of the author and not of Streetwise Reports or its officers. The author is wholly responsible for the validity of the statements. The author was not paid by Streetwise Reports for this article. Streetwise Reports was not paid by the author to publish or syndicate this article. Streetwise Reports requires contributing authors to disclose any shareholdings in, or economic relationships with, companies that they write about. Streetwise Reports relies upon the authors to accurately provide this information and Streetwise Reports has no means of verifying its accuracy.
4) The article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility. By opening this page, each reader accepts and agrees to Streetwise Reports' terms of use and full legal disclaimer. This article is not a solicitation for investment. Streetwise Reports does not render general or specific investment advice and the information on Streetwise Reports should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Streetwise Reports does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company mentioned on Streetwise Reports.
5) From time to time, Streetwise Reports LLC and its directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles and interviews on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned. Directors, officers, employees or members of their immediate families are prohibited from making purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise from the time of the interview or the decision to write an article, until one week after the publication of the interview or article.

Charts and graphics provided by author.

( Companies Mentioned: LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE, )

Lithium Explorer Cashed Up, Actively Exploring Giant Land Package in Argentina

Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports   04/10/2018

Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a lithium explorer with projects in Argentina that is actively moving to Molecular Recognition Technology for metal separation.

In the past several months, two Preliminary Economic Assessments (PEAs) have been released on lithium brine projects in Argentina. Neo Lithium [TSX-V: NLC] reported on its Tres Quebradas project, and Millennial Lithium [TSX-V: ML] delivered a PEA on its Pastos Grandes project.

A noteworthy observation is the timeline to reach full capacity. Initial production for each is slated for 2021, with a three-year ramp up period through 2023. Of course, that assumes everything goes according to plan. Yet, readers need look no further then Argentina lithium brine operator Orocobre Ltd. [TSX: ORL] to recognize the difficulties involved in exploring, permitting, developing, funding, delivering feasibility and environmental studies, designing, constructing and troubleshooting solar evaporation ponds.

Looking back at Orocobre’s June 2015 corporate presentation, on page 3 it says, “Production is expected to meet the nameplate monthly run rate of 1,450 tonnes of lithium carbonate (~17,500 tonnes annualized) during Q4 CY 2015.” Fast forward nearly three years…. Orocobre is forecasting a FY ending June 2018 total of 12,600 tonnes. (~72% of nameplate capacity). As an aside, this says a lot about the global lithium industry’s ability to ramp up production quickly! Lithium prices have soared, yet the supply response has been lethargic.

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Looking forward, if/when one or more accelerated lithium extraction technologies are proven technically and economically viable at commercial-scale, there could be a backlash against conventional ponds. Projects well underway, like Neo Lithium’s, Millennial Lithium’s, Galaxy Resources’ [ASX: GXY] Sal de Vida,Lithium X’s Sal de los Angeles (recently acquired for C$265 M by a Chinese group) and Lithium Americas’ [TSX: LAC] / SQM’s [NYSE: SQM] Caucharí-Olaroz will almost certainly be allowed to operate.

However, new projects with first production not until the mid-to-late-2020s, could face fatal challenges in permitting. Therefore, the door is wide open for prospective projects that propose to use technology that bypasses evaporation ponds. To be clear, embracing an accelerated Li brine extraction technology, none of which is proven at commercial-scale, introduces a new set of risks, but risks that I believe are well worth taking.

Huge Land Position + New Tech in Top Lithium Brine Jurisdiction

Lithium Energi Exploration Inc. (LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE) (LEXI) is a lithium brine junior with three project areas in northwestern Argentina in and around the Antofalla salar in Catamarca province. Management is proactively making a move to sidestep evaporation ponds by aligning with a proven metals separation methodology called MRT, which stands for Molecular Recognition Technology. LEXI proposes to use MRT for the accelerated extraction and purification of lithium from brine solution.

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LEXI holds title to 90,244 hectares (ha) of Li brine-prospective properties in Catamarca province, plus rights of first refusals (ROFRs) to acquire 148,839 additional ha, of which 110,380 ha are located in the Antofalla Salar complex, and 38,459 ha are in the Pipanaco Salar, ~50 km due west of Catamarca city. If LEXI executes its ROFRs on the incremental land, it would become the single largest Li brine property holder in all of Argentina, bigger than FMC Corp [NYSE: FMC] and Albemarle Corp. [NYSE: ALB]. LSC Lithium [TSX-V: LSC] is the current leader; it controls a net 234,519 ha across multiple provinces, in five main project areas.

Located less than 20 km west of FMC’s lithium operation (Argentina’s largest lithium producer) in northern Catamarca province, the Antofalla Salar hosts one of the largest basins in region. It’s over 130 km long and up to 5-10 km wide. In September 2016, Albemarle, the world’s largest producer of lithium products, announced the acquisition of exploration and acquisition rights in the center section of this salar, and expressed its belief that Antofalla “will be certified as the largest lithium resource in Argentina.”

Besides Albemarle, several other public companies have property in and around Antofalla. Advantage Lithium [TSX-V: AAL] has 10,653 ha on the northern tip of the salar. Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. [TSX-V: LIT] just last week locked up ~14,300 ha, also in the northern part of the salar.

And, Ultra Lithium [TSX-V: ULI] has 5,400 ha near some of LEXI’s property. Advantage, Ultra, Argentina Lithium and LEXI surround Albemarle’s central position in the salar. Successful drill results from Albemarle or any of LEXI’s neighbors would be great news for the company.

What Could LEXI’s Extensive Early-Stage Properties Be Worth?

While it’s hard to place a value on green field Li brine properties in northwestern Argentina, there have been recent transactions of parcels, some green field, others with historical exploration data, that could offer rough guidance. Not much is known (in the public domain) about the Antofalla salar, except that 56 “test wells” were completed between 2008-2011 that averaged 350 mg/L Li.

Argentina Lithium & Energy’s recent transaction including a block of 5,300 ha works out to about ~C$860/ha. This property comes with work commitments totaling US$ 7 million over four years. Work commitments are not a bad thing—active exploration is to be expected—but not having them offers maximum funding and exploration flexibility. LEXI has no work commitments on any of its land, including parcels controlled under ROFRs.

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A new entrant to Argentina (first new name since LSC Lithium a year ago), Dempsey Minerals [ASX: DMI], is optioning ~4,500 ha in the Hombre Muerto salar of Catamarca. The acquisition cost, which includes shares, stock options and performance shares, equals ~C$1,000/ha. LEXI has no shares, options or performance shares associated with any of its property, or land controlled under ROFRs.

In December of last year, Millennial Lithium agreed to pay ~C$2,300/ha plus a 3.5% royalty over 36 months for a 100% interest in 2,492 ha in Salta province. That land had key strategic value (because it was contiguous to its flagship project, with known Li values). It’s worth noting that none of LEXI’s properties, including those controlled under ROFRs, have third-party royalties attached.

In November, LSC announced three transactions, it acquired the 2,595 ha Mina Teresa property in Salinas Grandes salar, Jujuy province for about ~C$980/ha, a 583-ha parcel in Salta province for ~C$1,970/ha and another 1,472 ha in Salta for ~C$590/ha.

In October, AIS Resources [TSX-V: AIS] agreed to pay ~C$885/ha for two projects totaling 7,750 ha in Jujuy province. The properties had historical surface samples showing decent Li values and low magnesium levels, as well as geophysical surveys on them. In May, Liberty Lithium agreed to pay US$5.5 million over 42 months for 70% of a 15,857-ha plot in Salta province, which equated to ~C$670/ha.

Some of these transactions, into the thousands of dollars per hectare, are not directly comparable to LEXI’s unexplored property, but serve as an example of how valuable hectares can become if solid drill results lead to favorable mineral resource estimates, and perhaps even promising PEAs.

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The above chart shows what LEXI’s 90,244 hectares could be worth at various C$/ha milestones. I leave it to the reader to take a stab at valuation, the range of possibilities is quite large. The current share price is C$0.415. So, LEXI is trading at under C$300/ha….

If LEXI executes its ROFRs, it could eventually own a combined {90,244 + 148,839 = 239,083 ha}. Without me guessing how much 239,083 ha might be worth, I simply point out that at today’s share price, LEXI would be trading at a market valuation of ~C$109/ha if it were to execute its ROFRs. Here are several Argentina-focused lithium brine peers. These eight are trading at an average of about C$720/ha.

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LEXI is working on green field prospects, so there’s a chance they won’t find robust lithium values. But, all early-stage companies working in Argentina and Chile face the same risk. Importantly, LEXI’s Li grade hurdle is probably lower than that of peers. Why? MRT is so selective and efficient, that it should be able to accept lower-grade brine feedstock and still produce a valuable end product at low cost.

Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) Revisited

The lower the Li grade, the greater the volume of brine that has to be pumped through the MRT facility, and the higher the cost. With MRT, process flow engineering is more of a constraint than brine chemistry.

Think of it this way, MRT’s recovery is two to three times higher than that achieved with conventional evaporation ponds, so the Li grade going into the MRT system need only be one-third to one-half as high. In northwestern Argentina, Li grades appear to range from about 300-400 mg/L Li for salars like Rincon and Antofalla, 500-550 mg/L Li for Millennial’s project in Salta, to 700-750 mg/L Li for Neo Lithium’s Tres Quebradas in Catamarca.

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So, potentially in production sooner and cheaper, highly scalable via modular additions to reach production levels equal to the plans of most of the larger players. Importantly, by ramping up modularly, LEXI could significantly (but not necessarily entirely) self-fund growth cap-ex.

All of these plans are great on paper, but what about funding? LEXI has secured a C$16 million credit facility from Arena Investors, LP, a major U.S. institutional investor. The facility is structured as an unsecured lending arrangement with up to five tranches (each a “Note”), specifically being an initial C$4 million tranche at closing, (LEXI has drawn down the C$4 million) and up to four C$3 million tranches (Notes) thereafter.

This substantial liquidity should allow the company to complete a resource estimate on a large portion of its properties in the next 12 months.

In August of last year, LEXI executed an agreement with privately held IBC Advanced Technologies (IBC) to utilize the metals separation technology known as Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) for highly selective lithium extraction. From testing to commercial operations, MRT has repeatedly been proven as one of the most advanced, efficient and eco-friendly refining technologies in the world for segregating metals, at commercial-scale, in both mining and recycling applications, with up to 99.99% purity. NOTE: MRT is not proven at commercial-scale for Li extraction from brines.

Actually, that’s (both) 99%+ purity AND 99%+ recovery of Li, from a single run through a closed loop system. Those figures come from actual lab-scale results of MRT Li extraction from brines.

IBC has started full-scale engineering for a small commercial-scale processing plant in Catamarca province, Argentina. The facility will be modular, making it highly scalable, with an initial configuration of 1,000 tonnes per year of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE). It will be designed to be able to ramp up to as much as 25,000 tonnes of LCE.

The completion of engineering will give LEXI full design drawings, equipment specifications, tank, pump, and column sizes, feed preparation, process flow and block diagrams, instrumentation and final piping arrays, sequential step descriptions for all input/output changes, all valve diagrams, and a complete operating manual.

If all goes according to plan, IBC’s engineering could be completed around the same time that LEXI achieves its first resource estimates.

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Exploration Efforts Off to Great Start

On March 27, management announced positive results from its initial geophysical surveys on parts of the northern section of its holdings in the Antofalla Salar. Interpreted brine horizons were detected throughout the entire 80 sq. km (8,000 hectare) area, suggesting the possibility of lithium-bearing brine. Conductive horizons were detected from just below surface to about 400 meters deep.

LEXI’s Director of Exploration, Miles Rideout, noted, “Having conducted or supervised the acquisition of thousands of kilometers of TEM soundings in brine environments over the last thirty years, I’m pleased to report that the initial geophysical results exceeded our expectations.”

LEXI’s CEO, Steven Howard added, “There are published assay results from drilling in the same basin just 3 km south of these properties and Argentina’s largest lithium producer is just 30 km to the east… Interpreting such an extensive volume of potential subsurface lithium brines in this first step of our exploration program is significant.”

Although resistivity values from TEM surveys cannot confirm the presence or grade of lithium, the survey results to date have identified highly conductive zones consistent with similar lithium-bearing brine aquifers known to exist in the region.

“Based on comparative results with similar sedimentary salar strata where lithium-bearing brines are hosted, these data indicate a likely-continuous, buried horizon of high conductivity in this part of the Antofalla basin complex.”

With such compelling initial geophysical results, plans for LEXI’s drilling campaign later this year are well underway to test for chemistry, lithology, porosity, pump rates, and other hydrogeological factors.

Strategic Partners Kicking the Tires?

There’s been a lot of JV/merger talk coming from western Australia hard rock lithium players this year. Many pundits believe that Argentina will soon follow on the consolidation front. While it’s too early for LEXI to be taken out (it has good balance sheet liquidity and tremendous exploration upside, why would it sell now?)—it’s great to know that the company already has a seat at the table when major and mid-tier battery and automakers get serious about locking up supply from Argentina.

A few weeks ago, CEO Steven Howard traveled to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Seoul & Tokyo with his corporate financial advisory team, Jett Capital Advisors. He met with prominent battery/cathode manufacturers, and energy materials companies. Members of Jett Capital are returning to Asia for follow-up meetings this week.

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There are 13 Argentina-focused lithium juniors on my list: two are still quite tiny, three are already aligned with larger partners, and one has outperformed the pack, leaving it with a market cap of > C$250 million—that leaves just seven names of interest …. but many dozens of suitors, not just from Asia, but from Europe and Scandinavia. Not just battery and cathode manufacturers, but global electric vehicle companies. Not just electric vehicles (including buses and trucks), but commercial and grid-scale storage solutions providers.

Conclusion

The combination of a very large land portfolio and a promising technology, (albeit unproven specifically for Lithium at commercial-scale), could enable LEXI to reach production at its designated rate of 1,000 tonnes LCE/yr before better known brine projects in Argentina and Chile. If LEXI is successful, it would be in production at a total cost well below what peers are looking at to design/construct ponds and processing facilities.

Funding for at least the remainder of the year is taken care of through LEXI’s non-dilutive debt arrangement with Arena Investors, LP. Simply put, I know of no other early-stage lithium juniors with this impressive a package of attributes and a market cap of just ~US$ 20 million.

Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis, and he is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Disclosures: The content of this article is for information only. Readers fully understand and agree that nothing contained herein, written by Peter Epstein of Epstein Research [ER], (together, [ER]) about Lithium Energi, including but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, calculations, etc. is to be considered implicit or explicit investment advice. Nothing contained herein is a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security. [ER] is not responsible under any circumstances for investment actions taken by the reader. [ER] has never been, and is not currently, a registered or licensed financial advisor or broker/dealer, investment advisor, stockbroker, trader, money manager, compliance or legal officer, and does not perform market making activities. [ER] is not directly employed by any company, group, organization, party or person. The shares of Lithium Energi are highly speculative, not suitable for all investors. Readers understand and agree that investments in small cap stocks can result in a 100% loss of invested funds. It is assumed and agreed upon by readers that they will consult with their own licensed or registered financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

At the time this interview was posted, Peter Epstein owned shares and/or stock options in Lithium Energi and the Company was an advertiser on [ER]. Readers understand and agree that they must conduct their own due diligence above and beyond reading this article. While the author believes he’s diligent in screening out companies that, for any reasons whatsoever, are unattractive investment opportunities, he cannot guarantee that his efforts will (or have been) successful. [ER] is not responsible for any perceived, or actual, errors including, but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts & financial calculations, or for the completeness of this article or future content. [ER] is not expected or required to subsequently follow or cover events & news, or write about any particular company or topic. [ER] is not an expert in any company, industry sector or investment topic.

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( Companies Mentioned: LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE,
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Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports   04/10/2018

Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a lithium explorer with projects in Argentina that is actively moving to Molecular Recognition Technology for metal separation.

In the past several months, two Preliminary Economic Assessments (PEAs) have been released on lithium brine projects in Argentina. Neo Lithium [TSX-V: NLC] reported on its Tres Quebradas project, and Millennial Lithium [TSX-V: ML] delivered a PEA on its Pastos Grandes project.

A noteworthy observation is the timeline to reach full capacity. Initial production for each is slated for 2021, with a three-year ramp up period through 2023. Of course, that assumes everything goes according to plan. Yet, readers need look no further then Argentina lithium brine operator Orocobre Ltd. [TSX: ORL] to recognize the difficulties involved in exploring, permitting, developing, funding, delivering feasibility and environmental studies, designing, constructing and troubleshooting solar evaporation ponds.

Looking back at Orocobre's June 2015 corporate presentation, on page 3 it says, "Production is expected to meet the nameplate monthly run rate of 1,450 tonnes of lithium carbonate (~17,500 tonnes annualized) during Q4 CY 2015." Fast forward nearly three years.... Orocobre is forecasting a FY ending June 2018 total of 12,600 tonnes. (~72% of nameplate capacity). As an aside, this says a lot about the global lithium industry's ability to ramp up production quickly! Lithium prices have soared, yet the supply response has been lethargic.

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Looking forward, if/when one or more accelerated lithium extraction technologies are proven technically and economically viable at commercial-scale, there could be a backlash against conventional ponds. Projects well underway, like Neo Lithium's, Millennial Lithium's, Galaxy Resources' [ASX: GXY] Sal de Vida,Lithium X's Sal de los Angeles (recently acquired for C$265 M by a Chinese group) and Lithium Americas' [TSX: LAC] / SQM's [NYSE: SQM] Caucharí-Olaroz will almost certainly be allowed to operate.

However, new projects with first production not until the mid-to-late-2020s, could face fatal challenges in permitting. Therefore, the door is wide open for prospective projects that propose to use technology that bypasses evaporation ponds. To be clear, embracing an accelerated Li brine extraction technology, none of which is proven at commercial-scale, introduces a new set of risks, but risks that I believe are well worth taking.

Huge Land Position + New Tech in Top Lithium Brine Jurisdiction

Lithium Energi Exploration Inc. (LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE) (LEXI) is a lithium brine junior with three project areas in northwestern Argentina in and around the Antofalla salar in Catamarca province. Management is proactively making a move to sidestep evaporation ponds by aligning with a proven metals separation methodology called MRT, which stands for Molecular Recognition Technology. LEXI proposes to use MRT for the accelerated extraction and purification of lithium from brine solution.

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LEXI holds title to 90,244 hectares (ha) of Li brine-prospective properties in Catamarca province, plus rights of first refusals (ROFRs) to acquire 148,839 additional ha, of which 110,380 ha are located in the Antofalla Salar complex, and 38,459 ha are in the Pipanaco Salar, ~50 km due west of Catamarca city. If LEXI executes its ROFRs on the incremental land, it would become the single largest Li brine property holder in all of Argentina, bigger than FMC Corp [NYSE: FMC] and Albemarle Corp. [NYSE: ALB]. LSC Lithium [TSX-V: LSC] is the current leader; it controls a net 234,519 ha across multiple provinces, in five main project areas.

Located less than 20 km west of FMC's lithium operation (Argentina's largest lithium producer) in northern Catamarca province, the Antofalla Salar hosts one of the largest basins in region. It's over 130 km long and up to 5-10 km wide. In September 2016, Albemarle, the world's largest producer of lithium products, announced the acquisition of exploration and acquisition rights in the center section of this salar, and expressed its belief that Antofalla "will be certified as the largest lithium resource in Argentina."

Besides Albemarle, several other public companies have property in and around Antofalla. Advantage Lithium [TSX-V: AAL] has 10,653 ha on the northern tip of the salar. Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. [TSX-V: LIT] just last week locked up ~14,300 ha, also in the northern part of the salar.

And, Ultra Lithium [TSX-V: ULI] has 5,400 ha near some of LEXI's property. Advantage, Ultra, Argentina Lithium and LEXI surround Albemarle's central position in the salar. Successful drill results from Albemarle or any of LEXI's neighbors would be great news for the company.

What Could LEXI's Extensive Early-Stage Properties Be Worth?

While it's hard to place a value on green field Li brine properties in northwestern Argentina, there have been recent transactions of parcels, some green field, others with historical exploration data, that could offer rough guidance. Not much is known (in the public domain) about the Antofalla salar, except that 56 "test wells" were completed between 2008-2011 that averaged 350 mg/L Li.

Argentina Lithium & Energy's recent transaction including a block of 5,300 ha works out to about ~C$860/ha. This property comes with work commitments totaling US$ 7 million over four years. Work commitments are not a bad thing—active exploration is to be expected—but not having them offers maximum funding and exploration flexibility. LEXI has no work commitments on any of its land, including parcels controlled under ROFRs.

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A new entrant to Argentina (first new name since LSC Lithium a year ago), Dempsey Minerals [ASX: DMI], is optioning ~4,500 ha in the Hombre Muerto salar of Catamarca. The acquisition cost, which includes shares, stock options and performance shares, equals ~C$1,000/ha. LEXI has no shares, options or performance shares associated with any of its property, or land controlled under ROFRs.

In December of last year, Millennial Lithium agreed to pay ~C$2,300/ha plus a 3.5% royalty over 36 months for a 100% interest in 2,492 ha in Salta province. That land had key strategic value (because it was contiguous to its flagship project, with known Li values). It's worth noting that none of LEXI's properties, including those controlled under ROFRs, have third-party royalties attached.

In November, LSC announced three transactions, it acquired the 2,595 ha Mina Teresa property in Salinas Grandes salar, Jujuy province for about ~C$980/ha, a 583-ha parcel in Salta province for ~C$1,970/ha and another 1,472 ha in Salta for ~C$590/ha.

In October, AIS Resources [TSX-V: AIS] agreed to pay ~C$885/ha for two projects totaling 7,750 ha in Jujuy province. The properties had historical surface samples showing decent Li values and low magnesium levels, as well as geophysical surveys on them. In May, Liberty Lithium agreed to pay US$5.5 million over 42 months for 70% of a 15,857-ha plot in Salta province, which equated to ~C$670/ha.

Some of these transactions, into the thousands of dollars per hectare, are not directly comparable to LEXI's unexplored property, but serve as an example of how valuable hectares can become if solid drill results lead to favorable mineral resource estimates, and perhaps even promising PEAs.

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The above chart shows what LEXI's 90,244 hectares could be worth at various C$/ha milestones. I leave it to the reader to take a stab at valuation, the range of possibilities is quite large. The current share price is C$0.415. So, LEXI is trading at under C$300/ha....

If LEXI executes its ROFRs, it could eventually own a combined {90,244 + 148,839 = 239,083 ha}. Without me guessing how much 239,083 ha might be worth, I simply point out that at today's share price, LEXI would be trading at a market valuation of ~C$109/ha if it were to execute its ROFRs. Here are several Argentina-focused lithium brine peers. These eight are trading at an average of about C$720/ha.

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LEXI is working on green field prospects, so there's a chance they won't find robust lithium values. But, all early-stage companies working in Argentina and Chile face the same risk. Importantly, LEXI's Li grade hurdle is probably lower than that of peers. Why? MRT is so selective and efficient, that it should be able to accept lower-grade brine feedstock and still produce a valuable end product at low cost.

Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) Revisited

The lower the Li grade, the greater the volume of brine that has to be pumped through the MRT facility, and the higher the cost. With MRT, process flow engineering is more of a constraint than brine chemistry.

Think of it this way, MRT's recovery is two to three times higher than that achieved with conventional evaporation ponds, so the Li grade going into the MRT system need only be one-third to one-half as high. In northwestern Argentina, Li grades appear to range from about 300-400 mg/L Li for salars like Rincon and Antofalla, 500-550 mg/L Li for Millennial's project in Salta, to 700-750 mg/L Li for Neo Lithium's Tres Quebradas in Catamarca.

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So, potentially in production sooner and cheaper, highly scalable via modular additions to reach production levels equal to the plans of most of the larger players. Importantly, by ramping up modularly, LEXI could significantly (but not necessarily entirely) self-fund growth cap-ex.

All of these plans are great on paper, but what about funding? LEXI has secured a C$16 million credit facility from Arena Investors, LP, a major U.S. institutional investor. The facility is structured as an unsecured lending arrangement with up to five tranches (each a "Note"), specifically being an initial C$4 million tranche at closing, (LEXI has drawn down the C$4 million) and up to four C$3 million tranches (Notes) thereafter.

This substantial liquidity should allow the company to complete a resource estimate on a large portion of its properties in the next 12 months.

In August of last year, LEXI executed an agreement with privately held IBC Advanced Technologies (IBC) to utilize the metals separation technology known as Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) for highly selective lithium extraction. From testing to commercial operations, MRT has repeatedly been proven as one of the most advanced, efficient and eco-friendly refining technologies in the world for segregating metals, at commercial-scale, in both mining and recycling applications, with up to 99.99% purity. NOTE: MRT is not proven at commercial-scale for Li extraction from brines.

Actually, that's (both) 99%+ purity AND 99%+ recovery of Li, from a single run through a closed loop system. Those figures come from actual lab-scale results of MRT Li extraction from brines.

IBC has started full-scale engineering for a small commercial-scale processing plant in Catamarca province, Argentina. The facility will be modular, making it highly scalable, with an initial configuration of 1,000 tonnes per year of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE). It will be designed to be able to ramp up to as much as 25,000 tonnes of LCE.

The completion of engineering will give LEXI full design drawings, equipment specifications, tank, pump, and column sizes, feed preparation, process flow and block diagrams, instrumentation and final piping arrays, sequential step descriptions for all input/output changes, all valve diagrams, and a complete operating manual.

If all goes according to plan, IBC's engineering could be completed around the same time that LEXI achieves its first resource estimates.

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Exploration Efforts Off to Great Start

On March 27, management announced positive results from its initial geophysical surveys on parts of the northern section of its holdings in the Antofalla Salar. Interpreted brine horizons were detected throughout the entire 80 sq. km (8,000 hectare) area, suggesting the possibility of lithium-bearing brine. Conductive horizons were detected from just below surface to about 400 meters deep.

LEXI's Director of Exploration, Miles Rideout, noted, "Having conducted or supervised the acquisition of thousands of kilometers of TEM soundings in brine environments over the last thirty years, I'm pleased to report that the initial geophysical results exceeded our expectations."

LEXI's CEO, Steven Howard added, "There are published assay results from drilling in the same basin just 3 km south of these properties and Argentina's largest lithium producer is just 30 km to the east... Interpreting such an extensive volume of potential subsurface lithium brines in this first step of our exploration program is significant."

Although resistivity values from TEM surveys cannot confirm the presence or grade of lithium, the survey results to date have identified highly conductive zones consistent with similar lithium-bearing brine aquifers known to exist in the region.

"Based on comparative results with similar sedimentary salar strata where lithium-bearing brines are hosted, these data indicate a likely-continuous, buried horizon of high conductivity in this part of the Antofalla basin complex."

With such compelling initial geophysical results, plans for LEXI's drilling campaign later this year are well underway to test for chemistry, lithology, porosity, pump rates, and other hydrogeological factors.

Strategic Partners Kicking the Tires?

There's been a lot of JV/merger talk coming from western Australia hard rock lithium players this year. Many pundits believe that Argentina will soon follow on the consolidation front. While it's too early for LEXI to be taken out (it has good balance sheet liquidity and tremendous exploration upside, why would it sell now?)—it's great to know that the company already has a seat at the table when major and mid-tier battery and automakers get serious about locking up supply from Argentina.

A few weeks ago, CEO Steven Howard traveled to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Seoul & Tokyo with his corporate financial advisory team, Jett Capital Advisors. He met with prominent battery/cathode manufacturers, and energy materials companies. Members of Jett Capital are returning to Asia for follow-up meetings this week.

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There are 13 Argentina-focused lithium juniors on my list: two are still quite tiny, three are already aligned with larger partners, and one has outperformed the pack, leaving it with a market cap of > C$250 million—that leaves just seven names of interest .... but many dozens of suitors, not just from Asia, but from Europe and Scandinavia. Not just battery and cathode manufacturers, but global electric vehicle companies. Not just electric vehicles (including buses and trucks), but commercial and grid-scale storage solutions providers.

Conclusion

The combination of a very large land portfolio and a promising technology, (albeit unproven specifically for Lithium at commercial-scale), could enable LEXI to reach production at its designated rate of 1,000 tonnes LCE/yr before better known brine projects in Argentina and Chile. If LEXI is successful, it would be in production at a total cost well below what peers are looking at to design/construct ponds and processing facilities.

Funding for at least the remainder of the year is taken care of through LEXI's non-dilutive debt arrangement with Arena Investors, LP. Simply put, I know of no other early-stage lithium juniors with this impressive a package of attributes and a market cap of just ~US$ 20 million.

Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis, and he is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University's Stern School of Business.

Disclosures: The content of this article is for information only. Readers fully understand and agree that nothing contained herein, written by Peter Epstein of Epstein Research [ER], (together, [ER]) about Lithium Energi, including but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, calculations, etc. is to be considered implicit or explicit investment advice. Nothing contained herein is a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security. [ER] is not responsible under any circumstances for investment actions taken by the reader. [ER] has never been, and is not currently, a registered or licensed financial advisor or broker/dealer, investment advisor, stockbroker, trader, money manager, compliance or legal officer, and does not perform market making activities. [ER] is not directly employed by any company, group, organization, party or person. The shares of Lithium Energi are highly speculative, not suitable for all investors. Readers understand and agree that investments in small cap stocks can result in a 100% loss of invested funds. It is assumed and agreed upon by readers that they will consult with their own licensed or registered financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

At the time this interview was posted, Peter Epstein owned shares and/or stock options in Lithium Energi and the Company was an advertiser on [ER]. Readers understand and agree that they must conduct their own due diligence above and beyond reading this article. While the author believes he's diligent in screening out companies that, for any reasons whatsoever, are unattractive investment opportunities, he cannot guarantee that his efforts will (or have been) successful. [ER] is not responsible for any perceived, or actual, errors including, but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts & financial calculations, or for the completeness of this article or future content. [ER] is not expected or required to subsequently follow or cover events & news, or write about any particular company or topic. [ER] is not an expert in any company, industry sector or investment topic.

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( Companies Mentioned: LEXI:TSX.V; LXENF:OTCQB; L09:FSE, )