Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rare Metals Limit imposed by China - sign of things to come? TNR.v, AVL.v, RES.v, REE Metals, REM.v, LYC.asx

Lynas to benefit from China cuts

Rare earths explorer Lynas Corporation Ltd says it is well placed to meet any increase in demand that arises from China's recent tightening of export quotas.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has cut the approved export quota of rare earths for the second half of 2010 to 7,976 tonnes, down 72 per cent on last year's second quarter quota of 28,417 tonnes.

The reduction brings Chinese supply for 2010 to 30,259 tonnes compared with 50,145 tonnes last year.

China supplies over 90 per cent of the world's rare earths, which have a wide range of uses, including in mobile phones and car engines.

Lynas says it expects its Mt Weld mine site in WA, one of the richest known deposits outside of China, to commence production in 2011.

"The tightening of supply regulations provides additional opportunity for Lynas to meet the supply deficit outside of China," Lynas chairman Nicholas Curtis said in a statement.

"Lynas owns the richest known deposit of Rare Earths outside of China at Mount Weld in Western Australia and the company is progressing well with plant construction to be in a position to commence supply in the (third quarter of 2011)."

Monday, July 19, 2010

World's largest lithium company? Pegmatite + Lithium Brines - TNR.v, LIT.v, FMC, SQM

Very interesting development in the lithium space - has the lithium industry progressed far enough for M&A and combination of businesses?

Salares Lithium and Talison Announce Merger to Create World's Largest Lithium Production Company With An Accelerated Brine Exploration Program
Salares Lithium Inc. and Talison Minerals Pty. Ltd. have executed a binding letter agreement to combine their respective lithium assets, and create the world's largest publicly traded lithium production and exploration company.


  • Combination of the world's largest, high-quality, low-cost lithium producer located in Australia, with a prospective, large-scale brine exploration portfolio in Chile;
  • Unique exposure to both mineral and brine sources of lithium, with the ability to respond to the growing demand for lithium for electric vehicle batteries;
  • Board and management teams with complementary skills and extensive experience;
  • Fully subscribed private placement of $40-million to finance growth.

The merger will combine Talison's world-class lithium minerals production in Australia with Salares's prospective, large-scale lithium brine exploration project in Chile. Upon completion of the proposed transaction, the combined entity will be well financed, allowing for immediate expansion of the producing Australian operations to run in parallel with an accelerated exploration program at the Salares brine projects.

Immediate production expansions at Talison's Australian operations are required to satisfy substantial growth in lithium demand from Chinese battery producers for which Talison is the primary supplier. This demand has been driven by government policies encouraging alternative energy vehicles in pursuit of energy security, reduced reliance on oil imports, and environmental objectives. Additional large-scale production expansion is also being pursued by Talison to meet the anticipated global growth in the lithium market.

Salares's chairman David Shaw said today, "The merger of Salares with Talison will create a unique lithium company with exposure to both lithium minerals and lithium brines, building on the strong foundation of both companies to continue growing and delivering value for shareholders."

Talison chairman Peter Robinson stated: "Talison is already the largest lithium producer in the world and the largest supplier of lithium concentrates into the growing Chinese market. The merger with Salares will offer shareholders exposure to substantial growth opportunities for the potential production of lithium carbonate from lithium brines, as well as from lithium minerals, to satisfy the demand for lithium products destined for the global electric vehicle market."

The boards of Salares and Talison believe the benefits of the merger are compelling, with:

  • An attractive diversified mix of lithium mineral and brine assets in both Australia and Chile:
    • Combination of the high-quality, low-cost, Australian-based, lithium minerals production with promising lithium brine exploration properties located in Chile;
  • Multiple actionable growth strategies, including:
    • Expansion of existing lithium mineral production capacity by over 60 per cent (currently in progress) to support the growing Chinese battery market, with demand from existing customers for over 90 per cent of additional capacity;
    • Potential low-cost lithium carbonate production from minerals conversion to supply major battery producers and vehicle manufacturers globally;
    • Future potential lithium carbonate production from prospective Chilean brines;
  • Access to an extensive global customer network, established over a 25-year lithium operations history, with the leading position in the growing Chinese battery market;
  • Board and management teams with complementary skills and extensive experience in the technical and commercial aspects of project development, production and marketing lithium.

The market dynamics for lithium are positive. Lithium demand has grown consistently over the past decade and is expected to accelerate significantly in the near term from increased consumption of lithium batteries, which are a critical component of hybrid and electric vehicles.

The board of directors of both Talison and Salares unanimously support the proposed transaction. Salares management and directors (together representing 7.43 per cent of Salares's shares on a fully diluted basis) have agreed to enter into lock-up agreements to support the transaction.

Merger proposal

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, which is to be structured as a plan of arrangement under the British Columbia Business Corporations Act, it is anticipated that common shares of Salares will be exchanged for ordinary shares of Talison (1) on the basis of 2.81 Salares shares for one Talison share. All outstanding options and warrants of Salares will be assumed by Talison and exercisable in accordance with their terms for Talison shares.

Upon completion of the plan of arrangement, existing Salares and Talison shareholders will own 20 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively, of the combined company (on a fully diluted basis), prior to the conversion of the subscription receipts issued under the $40-million private placement (as described below).

Based on a price of $3.50 per Talison share, the terms of the proposed transaction provide Salares shareholders with a premium of approximately 98.2 per cent (equal to $1.25 per Salares share), based on the trailing 20-day volume-weighted average price for Salares shares on the TSX Venture Exchange.

(1) It is proposed that, prior to the plan of arrangement, the Talison Minerals corporate group will be reorganized to, among other things, separate the tantalum business and to place a new Australian company, Talison Lithium Ltd., on top of the corporate group. References to Talison shares are references to fully paid, ordinary shares in the capital of Talison Lithium Ltd., and references to securities in Talison are references to securities in Talison Lithium Ltd.

Corporate, board and management structure

Following completion of the plan of arrangement, the merged group will be known as Talison Lithium Ltd., and will have offices in Perth, Australia and Vancouver, Canada.

Mr. Robinson and Peter Oliver, the chairman and chief executive officer of Talison, respectively, will be chairman and chief executive officer of Talison Lithium. It is proposed that Mr. Shaw will join the board of directors of Talison Lithium, and will also act as a consultant to Talison Lithium in connection with the supervision of the continuing exploration programs for the mineral properties of Salares. Todd Hilditch, current president and chief executive officer of at Salares, will direct the investor relations program at Talison Lithium.

Anticipated merger timetable and process

The letter agreement sets out the terms upon which the proposed merger will be implemented, and proposes for the parties to enter into a definitive arrangement on or before Aug. 9, 2010. Under the letter agreement, both Salares and Talison have agreed to pay the other party a break fee of approximately $1-million in certain circumstances.

The plan of arrangement is anticipated to be implemented by the end of September, 2010, subject to obtaining all necessary approvals and satisfaction of other conditions.

The proposed merger is subject to a number of conditions, including:

  • Completion of a $40-million private placement (as described below);
  • Approval of the plan of arrangement by Salares's shareholders;
  • Approval by the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) to list Talison Lithium, subject to customary conditions;
  • Receipt of all applicable regulatory approvals, orders, notices and consents, including: in Canada, under the Competition Act: the Supreme Court of British Columbia; the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board; the TSX; and the TSX Venture Exchange;
  • Completion of satisfactory due diligence on or before Aug. 9, 2010;
  • Other customary merger conditions.

Private placement

In conjunction with the plan of arrangement, Salares will undertake a $40-million private placement of subscription receipts of Salares.

Talison's current major shareholder, Resource Capital Fund (RCF), has fully subscribed for the private placement, but, at the request of the agents (as defined below), is willing to scale back its commitment to permit subscription receipts to be offered for sale to other investors. RCF has also agreed to a 90-day lock-up period.

The private placement issue price will be based on a deemed price per share in Talison of not less than $3.50; under the terms of the plan of arrangement, this equates to a price of $1.25 per Salares subscription receipt. Upon satisfaction of the escrow release conditions (as described below), subscription receipts shall be exchanged into Talison shares on the basis of 2.81 subscription receipts for one Talison share.

The private placement will be managed by a syndicate of investment dealers led by Cormark Securities Inc. (Cormark and, collectively, the agents), and is expected to close by the middle of August, 2010.

Upon release from escrow (as described below), it is anticipated that the proceeds of the private placement will be used to finance the growth strategies of the merged group, including:

  • Expansion of the existing lithium minerals operations in Australia to increase production capacity to meet current Chinese demand for lithium;
  • Acceleration of the exploration of Salares's properties in Chile;
  • Implementation of a drilling program at the Australian operations, with an objective to increase and upgrade mineral reserves and resources;
  • Initiation of further feasibility studies into developing a lithium carbonate plant using lithium mineral concentrates from the Australian operations;
  • General corporate and working capital purposes.

The gross proceeds of the private placement will be delivered to and held by a licensed Canadian trust company or other escrow agent mutually acceptable to Cormark and Salares, in an interest-bearing account (the escrowed funds).

The escrowed funds (plus any accrued interest earned thereon) will be released from escrow to Salares (after deducting certain expenses payable to the agents) upon delivery of a notice to the escrow agent from Cormark, on behalf of the agents, and Salares, on or before 5 p.m. (Toronto time) on Sept. 30, 2010, indicating the following conditions (the escrow release conditions) have been satisfied:

  1. The implementation of the plan of arrangement;
  2. The receipt of all required shareholder and regulatory approvals, including approval by the TSX;
  3. The Talison shares to be issued in connection with the plan of arrangement and on exchange of the subscription receipts not being subject to any statutory hold period in Canada.

If the escrow release conditions are not satisfied on or before the escrow deadline, the escrowed funds plus accrued interest shall be returned to the holders of the subscription receipts, and the subscription receipts will be cancelled without any further action on the part of the holders.


Talison has engaged Rothschild and Cormark as its financial advisers, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and Clayton Utz as its Canadian and Australian legal advisers, respectively.

Haywood Securities Inc. is acting as financial adviser to the special committee of Salares. Haywood has provided an opinion to the special committee of Salares that, subject to certain assumptions and limitations set out therein, the proposed transaction is fair, from a financial point of view, to Salares shareholders. Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP is acting as legal adviser to Salares. McCullough O'Connor Irwin LLP is acting as legal adviser to the special committee of Salares.

A presentation of the transaction highlights can be accessed at the Salares and Talison websites.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ITOCHU Buys into Lithium Developer (Geothermal) in Nevada - Simbol, TNR.v, ILC.v, CLQ.v, WLC.v, RM.v, LIT.v

The Nikkei reports that Itochu Corp. is participating in a project to extract lithium from the produced water from geothermal power generation at a site in California.

Itochu has taken a roughly 20% stake in Simbol Mining Corp., a company founded in 2007 to produce commodity minerals and metals—specifically lithium, manganese, and zinc—from geothermal, oil and gas, and other brines. Itochu has obtained exclusive sales rights for Asia, except for India, according to the report.

The lithium will be produced at geothermal power facilities near the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley region of Southern California. The lithium will be extracted from water geothermally heated underground and used for power generation. The lithium will be ready for shipment after undergoing dehydration and concentration processes.

The project will target annual production of 16,000 tons, or nearly 20% of the current global output, after three to four years.

Itochu is also an investor in Li-ion battery manufacturer Ener1.


It certainly bodes well for lithium developers, including perennial favorites ILC.v (IPO soon), WLC, RM, CLQ, all of which have not defined a partnership with an end user yet.

Background on ITOCHU, it is again one of the large trading houses in Japan.

Initially founded as a kimono retail store in 1858 by Chūbei Itō, the company later known in English as Itochu gradually evolved from pure buying and selling to manufacturing, supplying, exporting and investments. After various mergers and acquisitions, it was incorporated in 1918 and again in 1949. It now ranks as one of the largest sōgō shōsha companies in Japan and among the world's largest companies; it has 1,027 subsidiaries and associated companies operating in over 80 countries.