By Dr. Allen Alper, PhD Economic Geology and Petrology, Columbia University, NYC, USA
Kirill Klip, CEO and Chairman of International Lithium Corp. (TSX-V: ILC.V): Robust Financial Support, Strategic Partner and Keystone Investor Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd
International Lithium Corp. (TSX-V: ILC.V) is a “Clean Tech” lithium resource developer and an exploration company with an outstanding portfolio of projects, strong management ownership, robust financial support and a strategic partner and keystone investor Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd., a leading China based lithium product manufacturer. We learned from Kirill Klip, who is CEO and Chairman of International Lithium, that Ganfeng Lithium is holding 18% in the company. International Lithium is currently developing projects on three continents: one in Ireland, the Avalonia Lithium project with Ganfeng Lithium, one in Argentina, the Marianna project, also with Ganfeng, and two projects in Canada. Plans for 2017 include resource definition on their most advanced project - the brine lithium potash project in Argentina called Mariana.
Dr. Allen Alper: This is Dr. Allen Alper, Editor-in-chief of Metals News, interviewing Kirill Klip, who is CEO and Chairman of International Lithium Corp. Could you give us an overview of your company?
Kirill Klip: Yes, of course.
International Lithium Corp is a clean tech lithium resource developer with a global portfolio of lithium assets. We seek out to hold highly prospective projects in the most prolific areas of the world for lithium. The most outstanding quality for our company is our strategic partner. It's one of the largest lithium manufacturing companies in the world, a lithium material producer from China called Ganfeng Lithium. They're our cornerstone investor and holding 18% in the company.
We now are developing projects on three continents with our strategic partners. One in Ireland, with Ganfeng Lithium from China, one in Argentina, Mariana, also with Ganfeng and two projects in Canada. This company called Pioneer Resources from Australia.
Our most advanced project is called Mariana. It's a brine lithium potash project in Argentina, a very big system. We are the only owner, together with our joint venture partner Ganfeng Lithium. The whole formation is over 160 square kilometers and now we are in an advanced stage of exploration.
This year we expect to get a first resource estimation and conduct pumping tests to be prepared to move this project into the pilot stage with our strategic partner Ganfeng Lithium would like see this property in production within the next three years.
Another project we are developing with Ganfeng Lithium is a spodumene project in Ireland. We have been developing it for a number of years and are now moving into the drilling stage on over twenty-one new identified targets on the property.
Just recently we announced the news that we started our drill program on Mavis Lake, in Ontario, Canada. With our J/V partner Piuoneer resources we just announced eighteen meters of spodumene containing pegmatite, so we are all excited with this new drilling program. In a few weeks we are preparing another drill program in Canada. We are developing both projects with Pioneer Resources from Australia. The second property is called Raleigh Lake and is also based in Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds excellent. Those are very excellent properties you have and are developing. Really fantastic! And you have good strong partners so that's very good. You're in a great position.
Kirill Klip: Yes exactly. In my personal opinion, what makes International Lithium stand out among the many companies, who are trying now to become new lithium exploration or production companies is that lithium mining is actually a chemical business. It's not like operating gold or copper mines. Every single lithium project, whether it is hard rock, or brine, like the project in Argentina, has its unique chemical signature.
Partnering with Ganfeng Lithium from China, makes all the difference because they not only provide international marketing and capital but also access to their technology as a lithium producer. We are not working to produce raw materials for an unknown lithium customer. We are starting from the very beginning to develop our projects to produce raw materials for Ganfeng Lithium. And Ganfeng Lithium has more than 19 patents in the technology of lithium extraction and they are known worldwide. They became one of the five top lithium producers in the world because they can produce lithium materials from both brine and hard rock mining sources.
Dr. Allen Alper: Well that's excellent, they have really great technology and it's good that you're partnered with them. That's really excellent.
Kirill Klip: Thank you.
Dr. Allen Alper: Could you tell me a bit more about your background, your team and your board?
Kirill Klip: Yes, of course. I have very extensive business experience. I moved into mining, approximately fifteen years ago. I'm Russian by origin, but now I live in the United Kingdom. I immigrated from Russia in 2002. In Russia I was involved in building big complex industrial systems, including banking, transportation, and telecommunications. After emigrating from Russia, I was involved in trading gold, silver, and related, commodities. I was investing very early in the Lundin Group of Mining companies, like Tenke Mining, NGeX Resources, Red Back Gold. This is how I came to know TNR Gold, which had its projects in Argentina, together with Lundin Mining Group. In 2008, I became a director in TNR Gold. In 2009 we founded a company, now called International Lithium.
After a very extensive, two year search for the strongest possible strategic partner, we were very lucky to strike our strategic deal with Ganfeng Lithium. In May of 2011 we made our IPO, by the way of strategic transactions. Basically International Lithium bought them out from TNR Gold. We are developing all these projects. We started with a portfolio of almost ten properties. We had some projects in Nevada, but later we dropped them because of their very low economic potential, according to our analysis. We were very successful, so now out of ten projects in our portfolio, we are developing two major joint ventures with Ganfeng Lithium and two other projects with Pioneer Resources.
We now have a very strong board. On our board we have Xiaoshen Wang. Mr. Wang is Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman of Ganfeng Lithium. We have David Shen who is Assistant to the Chairman and President of Ganfeng Lithium. I'm Chairman of the Board of International Lithium. We have Ross Thompson, who is a specialist in marketing and a business owner, with a very successful track record in marketing and investments in the commodity sector. We have John Wisbey, who is the very successful entrepreneur from The United Kingdom. He built two successful companies involved in very complex financial and software development for the banking industry. So, we have very internationally experienced, seasoned professionals on our board.
Among my team members I have my Chief Operating Officer, Anthony Kovacs, with more than 22 years of experience running operations for mining companies. He was very instrumental in the development of many other projects now at the resource definition or feasibility stage.
Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds like you have a very strong board and team.
Kirill Klip: Yeah.
Dr. Allen Alper: Could you elaborate a bit on your plans for 2017, what you plan to accomplish this year?
Kirill Klip: Yes, the most important development for us this year will be resource definition on Marianna projects in Argentina, together with our strategic partner, Ganfeng Lithium. We are also conducting pumping tests, which will confirm the flow of the brine material from our aquifers. So far we have had very encouraging results.
Our drill results from Canada are also very encouraging. We will be drilling for about another thirty days. We’re expecting to receive the results in late March, early April.
The end of February we are planning to start drilling on another project in Canada, Raleigh Lake, which has also had very interesting historical results. We are also advancing two other lithium projects in Canada. Our concept is, that if we can define a few economically attractive, but not very big, projects, we can combine them all, with one central processing plant.
If you look at our website, you can see that our latest Raleigh Lake property is in very close proximity to roads, railways, and energy infrastructure. We are just nineteen kilometers away from Ignace, Ontario. So we should have access to a workforce. We think this proximity to the manufacturing base in North America, all around the Great Lakes will define our competitive edge in Canada.
And in Ireland we have very interesting results. We have more than 50 kilometers of exploration licenses with Ganfeng. We identified 21 out of 23 new, very attractive, drill targets. Now based on our very successful results, for last year’s exploration program. We are defining a very complex exploration program, which will be organized with Ganfeng and should move that project at a much more rapid pace into the development stage.
Dr. Allen Alper: Well that sounds very good. What are the primary reasons our high-net-worth readers/investors should consider investing in your company?
Kirill Klip: We are at the edge of development of our lithium projects. We will define resource very soon. After that, the market should realize the value of this strategic, very strong partnership with Ganfeng Lithium, one of the top leaders in the world, who owns just under 20% in our company, and finances our joint venture projects Avalonia in Ireland and Mariana in Argentina. We were able to not dilute our company and to attract a very strong strategic partner. Now we are becoming a part of successfully developed projects.
Investors should see a very strong technical partnership, with international depth of finance, and operations, and mining expertise, part of a vertically integrated lithium business, becoming a resource base for an already existing lithium producer. We can use their existing technology to optimize all our chemical processes, which will be very important for lithium mining operations.
Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds great. Those are excellent reasons.
Kirill Klip: Yes, and we are very well diversified across three continents. We have properties in Argentina, in Ireland, and in Canada, literally next door to a North American manufacturing base. I believe electrification of transportation will be next in the US. It is already happening in China and it will be happening more and more in United States.
We already have a presence in Europe, in Ireland. In 2016/2017 we are spending more than $17 million on all our projects. So, investors can expect a strong news flow from International Lithium Corp. and news on our results
Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds excellent.
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