“Being 24 km from the Chinese border, ION is well positioned to service the largest lithium refiner in the world, which refines 80% of all global lithium, consumes 53% of all lithium, and produces 73% of all batteries.”
Which exploration targets have been identified at the Baavhai-Uul lithium brine project?
The geology of the region is an endorheic basin, which means that all precipitation that has fallen on this basin since the Cretaceous period has never exited to an external body of water. That is indicative of what you would find in the Lithium Triangle, and we believe the mineralization could cover the entire basin.
The additions of Paul Fornazzari and Don Hains to our advisory board in 2020 added significant lithium expertise to the team, and helped plan our exploration campaign which started on October 27th. The campaign began with Geophysics (CSAMT) testing on the two targets where the initial samples came from, which will give us a sense of where the aquifer lies. We then planned to move on to reflective seismic in late November, which in tandem with the geophysics work will allow us to determine the thickness, width and depth of the aquifer body. However, Mongolia had their first community transmission case of Covid in November, and has since been in lockdown. We anticipate continuing our onsite work in very early Q1 2021, with drilling to commence soon afterwards. We expect early results out in early Q2 2021, and this will give us an indication of what a potential resource could be on this licence.
What were the steps that led to ION Energy’s IPO, and how was this impacted by the pandemic?
ION Energy had intended to go public shortly after PDAC in early 2020, but did not have conditional approval from the TSX until April 2nd – a time when the world was very much upside down. The silver lining over the course of the summer came about as governments around the world were feeling the ramifications of economies shutting down, and distributed unprecedented recovery funds. One of the primary focuses was a reset in how we use and consume energy. For instance, €576 billion of the European Union’s €750-billion recovery fund had a footnote that spoke to sustainability, with €20 billion of this being directly attributed to EV subsidization and gigafactory development in the EU. The UK followed suit with £1 billion for a similar purpose, and the US decided to classify battery metals as metals of strategic importance.
This government spending has caused a vertical integration in the battery metals space unlike anything we have seen in the resource sector, prompting the likes of Mercedes-Benz to invest in a battery manufacturer in China by the name of Farasis Energy, which then invested in an offtake agreement from a lithium producer in Australia. ION Energy began its roadshow in August, on the back of what ION believes is a green revolution. We do not see this as a cycle, but a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener technology. By August 28th, we had raised twice the minimum amount required by the TSX and not only started trading on the venture exchange on August 31st under the ticker ION, but were set to embark upon a fully-funded exploration program.
Considering the noise surrounding the EV market in 2020, particularly from Tesla, how do you walk the line between supplying frequent results to the market and preparing sufficiently?
ION Energy will work on its existing licences and then speak with potential strategic partners at a time when we have significantly de-risked our assets and are in a position to transact at a higher currency. I would also add that while Tesla is a formidable company and exciting to North American investors, China buys three times as many EVs per capita than anywhere else in the world. Being 24 km from the Chinese border, ION is well positioned to service the largest lithium refiner in the world, which refines 80% of all global lithium, consumes 53% of all lithium, and produces 73% of all batteries.
Where would you like to see the company by the end of 2021?
Earlier this year, we commenced trading on the OTCQB under ticker IONGF, bringing our story to a larger more EV conscious audience in the USA. ION Energy is in the process of acquiring additional licences in-country, and we are set to announce an acquisition, which may happen before this goes to print.