General Base Metals
Acme Lithium Inc. (CSE: ACME)(OTC: ACLHF) CEO Steve Hanson on Building Shareholder Value through Multiple Lithium Brine Development Projects in Nevada, USA
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the president & CEO of Acme Lithium — Mr. Steven Hanson. Steve, how are you this morning?
Steve Hanson: Great, Gerardo, a pleasure to be here with you today.
Gerardo Del Real: It's great to have you on. This is a new story to our audience… one that I am excited to help tell. You and I spoke a bit off air last week, and I joked with you that the best stories typically tend to be the simplest ones sometimes, right?
It's talented, experienced, successful management teams, excellent share structures. In a perfect world, you're in a space where there's a megatrend that has supply-demand fundamentals that are extremely compelling. And in an even better world, you're in a jurisdiction that is top-notch.
Acme Lithium checks all of those boxes, and I want to get into all of it. But before we do that, I would love for you to just give us a bit of background to your experience because it's pretty extensive.
Steve Hanson: Great. Well, thanks again, Gerardo. As you mentioned, there is an energy revolution going on here. And Acme Lithium was founded by the right people; a group of people that have a successful track record on global resource projects. And we are in the right market.
Lithium demand is expected to double by 2024. And, as you mentioned, we have the right address. We're in a regionally strong area for growth and exploration in the epicenter of lithium development in the US in the Clayton Valley region of Nevada. Again, we've got the right market, the right address, and the right people to turn this into a great success story and deliver to our shareholders.
So we absolutely have the building blocks for the future… and that's our focus today. The company has two projects, again, located in the highly-prospective region for lithium production in Esmeralda County, Nevada, USA.
In particular, our core project is in Clayton Valley. And again, those claims that we have acquired translate, hopefully in the future, to lithium mining and extraction in what is a growing market that is set to dominate in the coming years.
Gerardo Del Real: And just to be clear, Steve, the claims, they total, what, approximately 2,440 acres in Clayton Valley… is that accurate?
Steve Hanson: That is accurate; that's correct.
Gerardo Del Real: And then, another 1,620 acres in Fish Lake Valley, right?
Steve Hanson: That's correct. That's the valley next door to the west. So as you may be aware, the lithium market has dramatically been growing over the last few years. We're expecting that the global lithium-ion battery market, in this year alone, to be over US$32 billion and expecting that to grow to over US$87 billion by 2027.
Lithium is a very important metal domestically in the US and globally as well. It powers rechargeable batteries that are used in electronics, cell phones, laptops, cameras, and tools, etc. And most notably, what everybody seems to be talking about today is electric vehicles (EVs). Lithium is found in minerals and in particular where most of it is being extracted today is in brine. These are underground pools and extracted by removing the water.
So Clayton Valley has been the only place [in Nevada] where lithium has been produced since 1966. We neighbor the only existing production in North America. Our project is contiguous to that project and, again, we were able to acquire this project this past early-spring and it's our core project for growth in the US.
Gerardo Del Real: I’ve got to believe the infrastructure is excellent. You're in Nevada. I know that Tesla's Gigafactory is less than 200 miles northwest. And you're in a region, as you mentioned, that is home to several majors and up-and-coming hopeful producers, right?
Steve Hanson: Well, Nevada is the best mining jurisdiction in America. There's a history of mining, obviously, for precious metals in that state. We have access to technical expertise regionally; infrastructure, rail and roads, power and water, with excellent weather and logistics. We can access our project year-round unlike other regions of the world.
And you're right; Tesla's Gigafactory is less than 200 miles northwest of us, and Las Vegas is less than 200 miles to our southeast.
Gerardo Del Real: Walk me through the team a bit. And I know you're modest, Steve, but walk me through some of your prior success. You've had several successful M&A transactions. And I bring that up and I want to highlight that because I know one of the corporate goals is to use that network that you and the team have to acquire additional projects, right?
Steve Hanson: I have almost 30 years of finance and corporate development experience across four continents. I've held executive positions — CEO and president positions as well as board and advisor positions — for numerous private and public company projects in mining and alternative energy and also in the oil and gas sector.
Again, my background is mainly in finance but also in business development. And as a result of that, the key here for early-stage companies is to develop strategic relationships and exit strategies for shareholders… ultimately with major corporations.
So our goal here is to take out some of the risks of this project through key developments and milestones being met over the next couple of years and ultimately bring in a strategic partner that can develop our projects for greater amounts of money over time.
I've worked on projects in Asia, in Latin America, in Africa, and, obviously, in North America. And again, many of those projects have resulted in transactions where billion-dollar companies have invested in the projects or, ultimately, those projects have been bought out by larger entities.
So again, our goal here as a young company is to develop the project over the next couple of years and hopefully bring in a strategic partner that can take it to a position of production.
Gerardo Del Real: You're very well-capitalized. You just closed a C$3.6 million private placement. You mentioned the multi-billion dollar opportunity. What's the share structure look like, Steve?
Steve Hanson: So we had actually went out to raise up to C$3.2 million in this last 30 days. We had excessive demand and ended up closing over C$3.6 million. We're well-financed and in a great position to develop the company over this next year using those proceeds efficiently and effectively. We currently have approximately 34 million shares out and have a current market cap of just over US$20 million.
Gerardo Del Real: A lot of runway between US$20 million and a couple of billion, right?
Steve Hanson: Well, I think a couple of billion are lofty goals. But certainly we're seeing, in this sector, companies that have similar prospects and projects that are trading at a much higher multiple than where we are today. Again, if we can meet the milestones and perform as a management team, we believe in our projects and, hopefully, we can deliver shareholder value for our investors.
Gerardo Del Real: Let's talk about the second half of this year which we're in of course. What does that look like catalyst-wise? You're cashed-up. I mentioned the excellent share structure, the management team. Walk me through the second half of this year… what can shareholders expect?
Steve Hanson: Well, we have been working on our exploration plan over the last few months in preparation of what's going to be a busy summer. We actually have geological targets that are ready to drill-test.
But in the meantime, what we're going to do is we're going to do some additional mapping and sampling of both the Fish Lake Valley project as well as our project in Clayton Valley. We're going to do some geophysics this summer, which, actually, I'm setting up right now as we speak. We expect to begin that here in late-summer.
Then, ultimately, we hope to drill before year-end on both of those projects assuming we get the results that we desire from the preliminary work we're going to do. So there's going to be multiple projects in-play, lots of business development going on as well and, hopefully, some positive news for shareholders.
We also continue to look at accretive projects around the globe. We're not going to rest with just two projects here in Nevada. For the right situations in the lithium sector and the growing EV space, if there's new technology or partnerships that we can form, we're going to continue to grow this business — obviously with like-minded people — and we'll hopefully grow accretively acquiring very interesting projects as time goes on.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, I'm looking forward to it. I was mentioning you're in the right place in Nevada; you have a megatrend that doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. I think your timing is absolutely excellent. Anything else to add to that, Steve?
Steve Hanson: I'd like to add that one of our directors, Yannis Tsitos, spent over 20 years with BHP Billiton — one of the biggest mining companies in the world. And he has been involved in many transactions in bringing projects to production decisions to forming joint ventures and partnerships.
And he's a very valuable resource for us, obviously, with his background in developing junior companies as well. So we've got a great technical team; we've got a great board, and, obviously, our goal here is to create shareholder value over time for our investors.
Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic! Steve, thank you for your time today. I'm looking forward to having you back on and checking off some of those milestones.
Steve Hanson: Great, Gerardo, I appreciate it and we'll talk soon. Take care.
Gerardo Del Real: Alright. Bye now.
Steve Hanson: Bye.