Stria Lithium: Re-focused on Near-term Revenues

There is a bit of a lithium rush going on at the moment. Lots of companies exploring hard rock and brine lithium deposits in anticipation of the ramp up of Li-ion battery demand. Stria Lithium (V.SRA) is a junior mining developer with the ability to leverage its lithium processing expertise into an early stage revenue producer – even though it’s Pontax Lithium Project is only at the early exploration stage.

President and Chief Operating Officer Iain Todd comes to the company with a string of technological successes behind him. He earned his Ph.D in Mineral Processing and an M.Eng degree in Extractive Metallurgy and held managerial level responsibilities at SGS Minerals’ Hydrometallurgy Group. All of which is important because while Stria has what it believes is a highly prospective lithium property in Northern Quebec, its main focus is on the technologies involved in processing lithium into high value lithium metal and foils.

“What differentiates Stria from our lithium mining competitors is our wealth of in-house technical and scientific expertise, experience and, the supporting infrastructure to produce and fabricate high-value, in demand lithium products for North American customers,” said Todd. “It’s a niche, underserved market. The lithium metal market is about 33% to pharmaceuticals, 41 % to special alloys, 18% to foil products used in batteries and the final 8% in other applications.”

Converting lithium-bearing rock to marketable lithium is, or rather was, a complicated multi stage process. Stria has developed a proprietary, environmentally sustainable technology that radically simplifies that process, reduces time and produces a low-cost product. “We begin with an ore heat treatment followed by a chlorination process that directly produces the lithium chloride required for our molten salt electrolysis process to obtain the lithium metal we are after.”

Stria’s technical and metallurgical expertise means that even as it is in the process of developing its lithium property in Quebec, it holds process keys to the production of lithium metal and subsequently, the manufacture of lithium compounds and lithium foil vital to North American customers. Todd is positioning Stria to exploit the technological and competitive commercial advantages he’s building into his company’s operations.

Financing is critical in support of the company’s twin-track business agenda. While funds are in place and have been allocated for the 2016 exploration year at Pontax, a significant capital investment is required to bring lithium metal and lithium foil into revenue production within the next 18 months, well in advance of completion of the mine.

Stria’s immediate aims are to begin piloting the manufacture of lithium foil using lithium metal purchased on the open market while simultaneously piloting lithium chloride to lithium metal at its product development facility in Kingston, Ontario. This will allow for completion of a feasibility study along with preliminary engineering for a full-scale production plant, preferably in Quebec because of its advantageous, low-cost energy supply.

The company’s technologies will be eventually paired with the Pontax spodumene lithium property in the James Bay region of Northern Quebec. The Pontax property, according to Todd, “has seen limited drilling but there is as yet no 43-101 resource estimate. This is preliminary drilling.”

However, because metallurgy is critical in the lithium field Stria undertook a large-scale bulk test with 16 tons of lithium bearing rock from Pontax. After processing “We got a very nice concentrate of 6.3% Li2O at a recovery of 85%” said Todd.

The property itself, while remote, is only 22 kilometers from the James Bay Road. It has a seaplane accessible lake only 5 km away and, perhaps most importantly, has a 735 KV power line, with a maintenance trail under it, adjacent to the property. So the two key infrastructure issues which determine the viability of a mining operation, transportation and power, are in place at Pontax.

Stria also has the advantage of being part of the Grafoid-led 2GL Platform business alliance designed to integrate green energy technology innovation with Focus Graphite Inc., Grafoid Inc., and Braille Battery Inc. In the May 18, 2016 press release announcing the 2GL platform, Grafoid Chief Executive Officer Gary Economo, (also Stria CEO) stated, “The establishment of 2GL is the affirmation of our vision that integrating innovation from a strategic alliance provides us with a competitive advantage from a joint marketing platform. The potential from next generation green energy markets is enormous.

“By pushing the boundaries of battery technologies, we aim to supply both materials and the know-how that create better energy storage applications at a cost acceptable for widespread adoption.”

Essentially 2GL is aiming for complete mine-to-market next generation energy production and storage supply chain integration. It is a compelling vision because the explosive growth of Li-ion battery technology. Critically, that technology requires graphite and lithium and it may very well be enhanced in future by the extraordinary properties of graphene.

The 2GL alliance links Stria directly to Grafoid’s and Braille Battery’s development of graphene-lithium chemistries for next generation energy storage devices.

The market seems to have responded well to Stria’s two track approach to lithium. From a low of $.03 in February, Stria touched a high of $.17 in April. At time of writing Stria was trading at $.11 with 23.25 million shares outstanding and a market cap of $2.56 million.

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Read the original at News – Financial Post.