Jourdan Resources (TSX-V: JOR)(OTC: JORFF) CEO Rene Bharti on Setting the Stage for One of the Largest-Ever Lithium Drilling Programs in Quebec, Canada
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO & president of Jourdan Resources — Mr. Rene Bharti. Rene, it's great to have you on. How are you today?
Rene Bharti: Great. Thank you for having me on your show.
Gerardo Del Real: Listen, it's great to have you on for a few reasons. One, lithium has been very, very kind to me the last 12 to 18 months. Two, I'm constantly looking for companies that have good management teams and large land packages. I love large land packages in stable jurisdictions. And I love small market caps because that's how you capture the bulk of the upside when you have a bull market like the lithium bull market.
When I started digging into Jourdan, and I was having a conversation with my business partner, Mr. Nick Hodge, and he sent over the corporate presentation, you checked a lot of those boxes. And I want to get into that. But before we get into all of that, I would love for you to introduce yourself and just give us a bit of your background.
Rene Bharti: Sure. I'm Rene Bharti. I'm the CEO of Jourdan Resources. I've been involved in mining since 1996, putting it back over 30 years, I guess. And in a variety of mining from gold mining, base metals, and, most recently, some renewable energy stuff.
But certainly, most of my focus has been on lithium. And having such a great asset as they do in Jourdan, I've really decided to put my full time into this over the last four or five years.
I knew where the lithium market was heading watching all of the things like Tesla and EV car companies come into light, knowing that lithium would be a critical element. And sure enough — now it is!
We feel very fortunate that, with Jourdan, we've got an extremely large land package in a very safe jurisdiction… getting back to the point that you want to check off. And we will be finishing a very large drill program by the end of this year. And I think that we can probably say that, next year this time, we hope to be a lithium producer.
Gerardo Del Real: I want to make sure that I provide some context. Where is your market cap today?
Rene Bharti: It's only C$20 million, which, if you look at all of the other lithium companies, it's shockingly low, and it's sitting at around C$0.07, C$0.08. It's traded on the Toronto Venture Exchange. We're also listed on the Frankfurt as well as the OTC in New York. We are traded across the board.
But the story has just not been told properly, I don't believe, or probably not told on enough outlets to places like yours that we can get the story out to the average investor because we're sitting here at a very, very undervalued market cap. And we think we could change that by not only news flow but certainly getting the story out.
Gerardo Del Real: You're in Quebec, which is slowly but truly becoming the Saudi Arabia for lithium. You mentioned something here just a second ago that I want to touch on. You said you're working towards becoming a producer from an explorer, right? And how you're going to do that, I think, is a testament to the team that you have and the asset that you have. Can you speak to that a bit?
Rene Bharti: Yes, we have a fantastic team, first of all. But I think we got extremely lucky by the fact that we have a neighbor named Sayona Mining — a large Australian billion-dollar company that came in and bought an old Chinese mine called the North American Lithium Mine in Val-d'Or, Quebec. So we're about 20 kilometers north of Val-d'Or; a very great mining jurisdiction, very safe. Access to power; roads are in place.
This was a past-producing lithium mine, one of the few ever in Canada. And Sayona came in a few years ago. They bought it for several hundred million dollars. They refurbished it, fixed it up, and it just turned on about two weeks ago. It's now actually Canada's only lithium producing mine. And we surround them. We have 16,000 hectares of land, which is a massive position. I believe we're the largest lithium package in Quebec in terms of size.
If you look at a map, you'll see that the North American Lithium Mine that is owned and running now by Sayona sits right in the middle of our property. When I say that we're able to say that we can probably go from explorer to, at some point, producer in the somewhat near-term, we're able to piggyback off of a mine that's actually in production — the only one in Canada.
There are a lot of companies out there that I know of that have big drill programs. They're doing all kinds of things. But at the end of the day, building a mine is a C$300 million, C$400 million exercise that requires a lot of things like environmental permits, feasibility studies. It's not a quick process. You have to ship your ore to other places. But we're very lucky that ours is right next door to a producing mine.
On top of that, we have an extremely good relationship with Sayona. They now own 9.9% of us. We just did a joint venture with them where they gave us C$4 million for drilling now and another C$6 million when they earn-in a little more to the property. But the property is directly adjacent east of their current open pit. They saw the value in that.
They bought 9.9% of the company. Their chairman, Brett Lynch, who has been, basically, the rock behind Sayona's movement from AUS$20 million to almost AUS$2 billion over the last two and a half years is on our board of directors. He sees this as a very, very strategic relationship.
It's really a win-win when you look at it because we have a huge land position around them. They have this incredible mine that's now up and running. From both sides, we saw the synergies right away and we became essentially partners.
Gerardo Del Real: That joint venture, you still retain a good chunk of that project. This isn't one of those joint ventures where you end up with an NSR or you end up with 10% of the project. Can you explain that structure really quickly?
Rene Bharti: Yes, what we did was we agreed that they would take 25%. We have three large properties: one is called Vallée, one is called Baillargé, and one is called Preissac-Lacorne. Those sort of accumulate around 16,000 hectares. But Vallée is just one of them. It's the one that's directly east of their pit.
What they did was they said, ‘Look, we want to explore that area with you. We know that it's close to our mine. This makes a lot of sense.’ They gave us C$4 million to earn 25% of Vallée. And then, they're allowed to give us another C$6 million to earn up to 50%. Like you said, it's not a deal where we're giving away the property. We know the value. But certainly, we have now the resources to drill it. We have a very, very large drill program we're just finalizing now with them.
They've already given us the C$4 million. I think in the next couple of months, you're going to see what I'm going to say is probably one of the largest, most aggressive drill programs in Quebec history for lithium. It'll be large in terms of meterage; we don't need too much permitting.
We are about one month away from getting our first drill permit. We have the drills already onsite, and we have a joint technical committee. Jourdan and Sayona, between the two of them, are sort of world-class guys that work together to decide exactly where to put the drills and how this program is going to go.
Gerardo Del Real: You've already done some recovery work to make sure that at least the samples that you tested back in 2018 were conducive to being able to extract that spodumene-rich material, correct?
Rene Bharti: Correct, yes. We've done quite a bit of drilling. In fact, the property, over the last 30 years, has had lots of historical drilling. It's very much in line with what you're seeing in a lot of hard rock Quebec lithium companies. We're hitting anywhere between 1% and 1.5% lithium, which is extremely economical grade.
The cutoff for the mine is much lower than that. Anything above 0.7%, 0.8% lithium is definitely truckable and usable. But certainly, like you said, there were visible showings on the ground. Our other properties have tons of potential. The particular one called Baillargé, we are going to be doing a drill program this summer on it. But all the sampling and the things you do before a drill program are all showing very, very good lithium showings.
We're very excited about the fact that Vallée will go into potential production but we certainly have other properties that we're very eager to work on.
Gerardo Del Real: Tiny market cap; potential path towards production. You're partnered with a phenomenal, phenomenal partner. Tell me a little bit about the technical team and the management team because I know that's top-notch as well.
Rene Bharti: Yeah, so we have Dr. Randy Rompel, who is our executive chairman on our board; a very seasoned guy, a geologist for the last 30 years; worked all over the world, Africa, all over the place.
We have Roger Lemaitre, who is our vice president of mining and operations, who is a very seasoned 25-year geologist who lives in Saskatoon. But now, as you can imagine, he's mostly living in Quebec right at the mine. So he's running the program along with the Sayona team.
The Sayona team is a world-class team as well. If you look at this… this is one-and-one is five because we have our technical guys working with their technical guys. They have meetings every day. Our guys are on the site. From a business standpoint, I think we've got a very good team. We've got a very strong board. Stan Bharti, who's my father, is on the board. As I mentioned, Brett Lynch, who is the chairman of Sayona, is on our board.
So you've got a really, really good business team. But as important, as you know, we have a really, really solid technical team that's also working together with their technical team. We feel very confident about both sides of the fence from the company standpoint.
Gerardo Del Real: You have multiple drill programs with a tiny market cap, a top-notch team, and you benefit from the technical expertise of not just your own team but the Sayona team. A lot to like!
Rene, I'm looking forward to chatting here on a frequent basis. It sounds like you have tons of catalyst for the rest of the year so I suspect we'll be picking up the phone quite often here in the near future.
Rene Bharti: Well, I hope that the viewers that listen to your show understand that if they're looking for the things that you mentioned — and especially in terms of undervalued lithium stories that could potentially become a producer here — I think that we are in a very rare position.
Gerardo Del Real: Well done. We'll be chatting soon. Thank you again.
Rene Bharti: Okay, thank you, my friend.