Clontarf Energy plc, the energy company focused on Australia, Africa and Bolivia, announces its unaudited financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2023:
• Formation of a comprehensive joint venture with breakthrough Direct Lithium Extraction ("DLE") technology developers NEXT-ChemX (the "JV").
• Brine samples from five priority salares provided by the Bolivian State Lithium Company for testing.
• All samples successfully navigated the US Customs checks without setbacks.
• The JV's pilot plant components have now largely been assembled at sub-contractor facilities.
• Technical improvements including development and perfection of state-of-the-art German-engineered sensors, to improve performance.
• Pilot plant construction, including assembly of innovative components, will shortly be underway in Texas, after which testing will begin.
• Subject to test results and Bolivian laws, Clontarf plans to run large-scale production testing to fine-tune the process.
• Under applicable laws, the JV is ready to construct mobile pilot plants to process brines at different salares in Bolivia and neighbouring countries.
• Clontarf has been invited to participate in European Union initiatives to deliver battery-grade lithium salts to European automotive, grid storage and mobile electronics industries.
• The Bolivian authorities have adopted the suggestion to conduct a bid-round on medium-sized salares, certain of which Clontarf has reviewed and sampled.
• Ratification discussions on Tano 2A block with Ghanaian authorities continue - though the authorities have sought to re-negotiate (to their benefit) at the acreage and fiscal terms previously agreed. A new realism seems evident.
• Further Australian drill targets are under consideration, especially for gas to serve the dynamic liquified natural gas ("LNG") market.
Recent months have witnessed accelerated field-work on several fronts:
Clontarf teams have conducted further site-visits, sampling and related geological work to deepen our understanding of opportunities and challenges offered by the development of Direct Lithium Extraction technologies.
Our primary focus has been working with the Bolivian authorities, in accordance with applicable laws. This covers both our work on Direct Lithium Extraction technologies, in joint venture with NEXT-ChemX, as well as Clontarf's proposals to explore and develop medium-sized salares. The Bolivian authorities have now confirmed their plan to run a bid-round, as required by law and proper governance, on these high-potential though under-explored salt-lakes. This reflects a vision to develop the world's greatest lithium resource as soon as feasible, to benefit local communities, the authorities, as well as our partners, customers and the road to energy transition.
Our JV partners have completed financings and sub-contractor supply agreements on long-lead time and scarce components. Some components are being enhanced in order to serve anticipated as well as current customer needs. Remaining elements are being shipped to site for final assembly, commissioning and testing.
This progress has brought us to the attention of the EU Commission, as well as State-backed initiatives in Britain and the USA. Clontarf has been invited to participate in a drive to explore and develop lithium and other strategic minerals in northern Argentina, and possibly other jurisdictions. We believe that such timely initiatives may open larger and lower cost sources of equity and debt financings. This would cut our cost of capital and open many new opportunities for value added and expansion.
Subject to applicable laws, Clontarf has offered to participate in a Bolivian Lithium opportunity in partnership with YLB using DLE technology being developed by our technical partner, Next ChemX Corporation.
Every brine is different, and we must ensure that the processing parameters are compatible with the quantity, quality and other parameters of the minerals that are present in the particular brine. This is necessary in order to complete the design of the larger commercial pilot plant specifically made for the selected Bolivian brines.
With all necessary permits, we plan to collect and process larger samples for pilot plant testing, including kinetics calculations, flow-rates, etc.
The NEXT-ChemX process works directly from the brine, and after a quick filtering to ensure there are no solids or debris in the brine we feed into our system. We normally produce pure Lithium Chloride, which we can then convert to battery grade Li2CO3 or LiOH - or possibly Lithium metal for solid state lithium batteries.
This pilot plant testing will enable fine tuning of the process, and determine recovery parameters, as well as operating cost numbers applicable for different brine samples.
This work will help optimise output, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Next ChemX technology and determining throughput and recovery expected at in-situ pilot plants in South America, and possibly elsewhere.
The mobile pilot plant will ideally run for 4 and 6 months, to assess the potential of that location, after which the mobile pilot plant can then be moved and reassembled at another salar. This approach will enable customising of the DLE process for a variety of brine grades and chemistries.
The Clontarf JV, in conjunction with the authorities, under applicable laws, plans to build a full scale processing plant of an agreed capacity to extract production tonnages of Lithium Carbonate, or other desired form of Lithium. We would also assess the viability for the recovery of calcium, magnesium, and potassium chlorides at each location showing attractive flow volumes and recoverable grade. The overall capacity will be scalable via deployment of modular units over a period of months to years.
Each plant can be upgraded to produce value added production, i.e. lithium chloride to lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide and, if feasible, lithium metal. A similar approach to boosting value added will be implemented for other, economic non-lithium minerals, such as magnesium and potassium.
In oil and gas, the tightening hydrocarbons' supply-demand balance promises a long-overdue revival of exploration and the farm-out market. Shortages of piped gas and LNG feedstock have strengthened long-term prices. The centrality of LNG to fuel any energy transition in Europe and Asia has now been broadly accepted - except for fringe elements - and even by previous sceptics. There can be no reliance on intermittent renewables generation without reliable back-up.
The resurgence of interest in African exploration and development may lead to additional proposals in the coming months. Clontarf continues to insist on strict adherence to our ESG standards.
Clontarf therefore progresses its interests in Bolivia, Australia, Chad and Ghana, maintaining cordial communications with the relevant authorities, and continues to operate efficiently on minimal expenditure.
Subject to technical verification of its exploration projects, and permitting, Clontarf is confident of securing adequate funding, whether in London or Australia, for near to medium term ongoing activities.
We set out to reduce political and geological risks.