I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Bryan Slusarchuk a few days ago to talk about his new company, European Electric Metals. We talked about the EV revolution that is now gathering pace around the world, the worldwide demand for Nickel and Cobalt, and how European Electric Metals is getting ready for supplying the critical metals needed for all electric vehicles.
Welcome to The Next Bull Market Move Bryan. You are the founder of European Electric Metals and your focus is on copper, nickel and cobalt. What are the reasons behind focusing on these metals?
We view the underlying supply and demand dynamics for copper, nickel and cobalt as very attractive. The supply side because difficult pricing environments for multiple years for the metals resulted in a lack of new expansion and exploration spending, while the demand side is exciting due to technological innovation such as electrification.
Also, as you know, the vast majority of the world’s cobalt comes from DRC where working conditions, including child labour, can be horrendous. End users are increasingly not only seeking out stable sources of cobalt supply but are looking for ethically sourced material.
Let’s talk about your main asset the Skroska mine. This was a producer of iron-nickel laterite ore and in operation until 2013. Can you give us some details about this?
The mine was constructed by a state run enterprise in the early 1980s and took approximately 4 years to build. The Albanian Geological Society notes that the mine operated at 1000tpd at times but was developed for the sole purpose of nickel extraction. After the state run mining enterprise ceased to exist country-wide, this mine sat idle prior to being purchased by a private Albanian company. This company did a lot of work on the underground, equipped the mine well and did some great infrastructure work. However, again, they had a sole focus on nickel production and operated the mine for nickel. When nickel prices dropped, they put the mining operation on hold.
The EVX geological team had a thesis that there could be very high grades of cobalt within this environment. After demonstrating that the thesis was correct during a sampling program (recent underground sampling encountered high-grade samples – up to 0.54% Co and 1.92% Ni), EVX transacted on the project and the team has now commenced further underground work. The project is approximately 5km from a paved highway and 16km from rail loadout. It is well equipped and the condition of the infrastructure is excellent.
Tell us about the management team involved and the experience they bring to the table?
Fred Tejada, the CEO, is a Professional Geologist. He has had a successful career and in fact was formerly President of a Phelps Dodge subsidiary company. Jose Mario Branco, the EVX Chief Geologist, has had exploration leadership roles at Lundin Mining, Rio Tinto and Rio Narcea. He was Regional Exploration Manager Europe for Lundin and knows the continent exceptionally well.
We also have very strong mining engineers in the mix, with strong expertise in battery metals (such as Fred Sveinson, who was also a founding Director of First Vanadium) and serious processing experts such as Ian Stalker. Ian may be best known for his role as CEO of a uranium developer that grew from a micro cap to a USD $2.5 billion takeover in the span of 2 years but what many people don’t know is that he has very significant cobalt experience. In fact, he operated Zambia’s only dedicated cobalt process plant and was involved in the design and construction of that plant which is still in operation today.
John Booth, EVX’s Chairman is an entrepreneur, investor and corporate director based in London, UK and was the EBRD’s original nominee director on the Board, Sheila Copps is a former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada who was also Minister of Environment, George Gorzynksi is a geological engineer with 35 years of experience, Mark Crawford is an American is the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Albania and Director of the American Bank of Investments in Albania, and Dr. Perparim Alikaj is a PhD Geophysicist who has been a key proponent of the project in-country. It is a strong mix of strong engineers, geologists and capital markets professionals.
As the name suggests, European Electric Metals is set in Europe, so what are the opportunities in this part of the world? Why focus there?
Europe is a technology, innovation and manufacturing centre within the world but has not seen a lot of mining development in recent years. Albania, a European Union candidate country and a NATO member, is closely connected with the rest of Europe and happens to be blessed with an exceptionally rich geological endowment.
Our belief was that if we could discover or identify high grade sources of metals crucial to electric vehicle manufacturing and electrification in general within a European setting, we could potentially fill a huge need of the EV industry that is now largely unmet.
You have the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as a major backer. Can you explain how they got involved and what’s the potential they see in your company?
The EBRD is one of the world’s most important financial institutions in many ways. It is owned by 69 different countries, including large shareholders such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Canada. They have a mandate to foster economic growth in emerging countries such as Albania.
They have invested approximately $10 million into EVX equating to an average price per share of approximately CAD $2.00 and are our largest equity shareholder. I believe they see the same potential we do; recognizing the mineral wealth of Albania and the potential that has to not only be transformational to the Albanian economy but also an important source of input materials for the electric vehicle manufacturing industry throughout Europe.
As a final question, what plans are in place for the next 12 months? Can investors expect lots of new flow?
I anticipate a lot of news flow from this company in the near and mid term. Shortly after announcing the acquisition, EVX has commenced work underground. This is a fully developed mine, fully licensed and well equipped. A close spaced sampling program is taking place in order to garner the data to develop a mining plan and a 43-101 compliant resource in the first area to be mined. Work has just started in the past week and I anticipate a lot of news flowing from this underground program.
Of course, I assume there will also be multiple conversations with offtakers, end users etc, and this provides potential corporate news outside of what I think will be a steady stream of information from site.
Many thanks Bryan.
For more information on European Electric Metals visit: http://www.europeanelectricmetals.com
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