As lawmakers and automakers make ever more strides to migrate away from internal combustion engines, the lithium market has correspondingly climbed upward. We are now looking at a global lithium-ion battery market that will be worth $77.4 billion by 2024, exhibiting a steady CAGR of 11.6% from 2016 to 2024. So, the timing could not be better for Liberty One Lithium Corp. (LBY:CA)(LRTTF) to begin drilling at their highly touted property, Pocitos West, resting in the heart of the famed “Lithium Triangle.”
The Liberty One team fully understands the timing and opportunity in front of it, springing into action and deploying equipment and people into the necessary locations. The company’s operational team mobilized a drill rig, led by industry veteran Monty McNeil, the Company’s Senior Engineering and Operations Manager, on the ground. These two moves were designed to get the operation running efficiently and without delay.
“Events are moving quickly in the field now, and I credit that to the top-notch team on the ground,” company CEO Brad Nichol said in the company press release. “They were fully prepared to get underway and are currently ahead of schedule. Samples will be shipped to the SGS laboratory in Buenos Aires, employing QA/QC procedures including the insertion of blanks, standards and duplicates, comprising at a minimum 25% of the samples submitted. The SGS lab is accredited to ISO 9001, and operates consistent with ISO 17025 methods employed as industry standards.”
“If all goes well, we anticipate a comprehensive report within eight weeks and will utilize the intervening period to finalize our drill and work planning based on anticipated result scenarios,” he added. “Having pre-paid over $1 million for the start of the drilling program, we still have a healthy cash position of over $9 million in the bank. If this initial exploration is successful, our plans call for embarking on the full drilling program consistent with the current 11-hole permit approval, representing the first round of development activity at the Company’s 15,000 hectare ‘Pocitos West’ property.”
Another reason that Nichol is so optimistic about the timetable at this all-important juncture is the addition of McNeil, who will serve as the eyes and ears of the operation, living on-site in the Argentina altitude overseeing all aspects of the project including drilling, sampling, down-hole geophysical logging and cost control. McNeil has guided many exploration and development operations to completion throughout his career.
“Mr. McNeil is a trusted professional with decades of experience and innovation in some of the drilling industry’s most complex and challenging operational environments.” Mr. Nichol continues, “He has the empathetic temperament, supported by an indisputable knowledge base, to learn from our experienced partners in this area and to support and guide the drilling team during this most important phase in the exploration and development of our Pocitos West property.”
Image via Liberty One Lithium
It should be noted, Liberty One commenced drilling operations only seven days after receiving the required permits. Nichol and his team understand what is at stake and are full prepared to keep pace with this fast-moving sector. Another reason that the company wants to move with such celerity is because of sheer anticipation of what is waiting below the surface. A geophysical survey conducted at Pocitos West in August blew away estimates finding a brine deposit that could stretch the length of the 39,000+ acre property and was even deeper than predicted.
“Typically, when you do these surveys, you find high spots and low spots and that was our initial expectation,” Nichol told Equities in an interview after the survey results were released. “What really surprised us is that we found one huge zone that covered the entirety of the 29km long property from north to south. It’s 160-square-kilometers of potential brine. It’s huge.”
Under the direction of McNeil, the Vancouver-based Liberty One has the ability to drill 11 holes in this first round and the company intends to use the additional holes to further analyze the mineral and chemical character of Pocitos West. The company is also looking into installing a production-size well, if deemed necessary, and drilling an adjacent rotary/core hole to examine the aquifer.
While developing its prime location in Salta Province – rated as the top pro-mining provinces in Argentina and rated by the Fraser Institute as one of the top three jurisdiction for investment attractiveness in all of Latin America complete with solid infrastructure and transportation routes – has long been one of the focal points of Liberty One, the company is now flexing another one of its muscles: an experienced and agile team. Nichol, who came aboard in July, brings with him 25 years of experience in international business including serving Fortune 50 clients and developing several oil and gas exploration projects. Behind Nichol, and this does not include the aforementioned expertise of Monty McNeil, is a dedicated team with strengths covering entrepreneurship, finance, capital market and resource exploration, including a former 29-year Rio Tinto (RIO) lithium expert.
“We’ve got a full team of lithium experts,” Nichol said. “They’re not just mining or technical experts, these people have spent their lives looking for lithium, working in Argentina in the lithium space, maybe in a regulatory capacity or with a service company or a laboratory. So, together this team is unbeatable. I believe there is nobody else that can do it quicker or better than what we’re doing in Argentina today.”
This is a team that truly believes in their business plan and, as a whole, its members have back their words up with their own money. Insider activity in July showed that executives and directors of the company added to their investments, with Nichol purchasing 800,000 common shares and Director Patrick Whibley purchasing 250,000 in options, 100,000 in warrants and another 100,000 in common stock.
Liberty One is a junior miner with location, an experienced team and solid funding, as Nichol mentioned in an earlier quote, to bring its lithium payload to market.
“I would encourage readers to do what I have done, and that is look at every other junior lithium-focused company and other companies in this space,” Nichol concluded in the same interview with Equities. “Look at them all. I would challenge anybody to not come to the same conclusion that I did, which led me to ultimately invest in and join Liberty One. I keep going back to those three things that have driven me as I have run junior companies in the past – (i) location, (ii) people and team, and (iii) how capital is managed and raised. Those are the three key things, and I don’t think there is another company out there that does it as well as Liberty One.”
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