Gary Economo, President and CEO Focus Graphite at the World Resource Conference in Vancouver
Focus Graphite, formerly Focus Metals, has changed its corporate identity from a metals to a specifically graphite exploration and production company in Quebec.
The staff of Focus Graphite has had a busy few weeks adjusting to their new corporate identity. Formerly Focus Metals, the company has recently changed its name to reflect their commitment to pursuing graphite discovery and production in Quebec, Canada.
Said Gary Economo, President and CEO Focus Graphite, “As you know, we changed our corporate identity to Focus Graphite to better reflect our future direction.” With their discovery at Lac Knife, Focus Graphite's management team decided to change their corporate identity, specifically to reflect their desire to focus all of their efforts on their emergence into the technology graphite market. Economo and his team have high goals for their new identity. He said: “We want it to be the best and biggest graphite supplier in the world.” As such, the company is working toward getting information and studies completed so they can move into the development stage. Said Economo, “Over the coming weeks, we'll have our scoping study done so we can go into production as early as possibly the end of 2013.”
In addition to expansion drilling at the company’s Lac Knife deposit, the Focus Graphite staff is working on developing customers for their end product. Economo said: “We are working on getting contracts with customers in the Near East as well.” As these discussions have been continuing for quite some time, Economo believes that several of them may be completed shortly, giving Focus Graphite its first customers for the Lac Knife project. Said Economo, “We have been working on these for quite a while and expect to have at least two of these signed by the end of 2012.”
At this point, Focus Graphite is putting the finishing touches on the steps prior to beginning construction and production. “It takes 18 months or so to get through all of the permitting,” Economo said. While they are waiting for the permitting to be completed, Economo and his staff are pursuing other deliverables to make sure they are ready to proceed as soon as they receive permission to build their plant and begin production. Said Economo: “We have a number of initiatives started at the same time. We have our mine plan and mine design done right now.” Based on their current plan, Economo believes that they are on schedule to begin work in the next year or so. He said: “Everything should come together for a groundbreaking at the end of 2013.” Like many other junior mining companies, Focus Graphite is subject to the speed of the permitting process and won't be able to move forward until those are completed. “If there are any delays, it would only be because of the under-capacity of the resources of the permitting offices. We may experience a few short delays in getting the permits out,” Economo said.
The Lac Knife deposit, located in the Côte Nord region of Quebec is a 16% carbon grade crystalline flake graphite deposit.
In describing the positives attached to the Lac Knife project, Economo said: “There are two main aspects of our deposit. The first one is the grade. We have the highest grade of any known deposit in the world at 16%.” The reason that the grade is critical is due to the requirements of end users. Since graphite is mostly used in technology applications, making sure that it has the correct purity is what makes it marketable. “Graphite becomes useful in technology applications at 95%.” Because of the purity required, processing cost is always an issue. Economo added, “We have to process six tons of core to get one ton of 95% graphite.”
Other producers, with lower grade graphite deposits, have to spend a great deal of money to produce the necessary amount of purity for end users. Focus Graphite does not have that challenge. “Our cost to do that [process the graphite] is $350 dollars. We have the highest grade and therefore the lowest cost to produce,” Economo said. Another unique benefit to Focus Graphite is that technology is their base business. “The second most important thing is that we are a technology based business where we use technology to develop applications for graphite. Our expertise is in the end use of graphite, where many of our competitors are just miners. We have the expertise to create more value for end users.”
On May 7, 2012, Focus and Hydro-Québec’s world-leading l'Institut de Recherche d'Hydro-Québec (IREQ) signed a licensing agreement enabling Focus Graphite to develop a graphite purification center as well as a graphite anode production facility for Lithium-Ion batteries.
“As a value investment, when you factor in the multiple refining, production and marketing advantages our partnership with IREQ brings, Focus Graphite stands head and shoulders above any other emerging graphite producer today,” Economo said. “We’ve planned and designed a fully integrated business model built on technology to supply into the green technology market. That is the win-win factor for shareholders.” He said Hydro-Québec is the undisputed world leader in developing and patenting battery technologies.
Financially speaking, Focus Graphite is in an enviable position. “Right now we have about $26 million in the bank. Our financing is secure. We have about 97 million shares outstanding and issued. Fully diluted we are at 117,” Economo said. With plenty of money in the treasury and a high grade deposit, Economo is ready for the company to move forward. “We are very well positioned to get to the next stage of our plan. Once we have our scoping study, we will be able to put together the financing for our next stage,” he added.
Economo believes that investors will find Focus Graphite's deposit, production costs and financial state to be positive reasons to invest in their company.
“The highest grade and lowest cost producer will always survive,” Economo said. “As an investor, I would want to invest in a global leader. Our Lac Knife deposit enables us to become that global leader. We have and we hold significant competitive advantages. Quebec is mining friendly. We have all the infrastructure we require at our property. We are right in the middle of an iron mine town. We have all the financial resources we need. We know all the end users of graphite. You put all that together and that's a great story.” With a high grade deposit and a well planned strategy, Focus Graphite is nearly ready to begin production.
The Alper Family owns Focus Graphite stock.
Gary Economo, CEO
Tel: 613-691-1091 ext. 101