Sweden-focused Leading Edge Materials delivering in the high tech materials arena
If a firm could be said to be 'on trend', then this is certainly one. Investor interest is also there too.
The group has just announced plans to list on the Nasdaq First North Stockholm after being "encouraged" by a steady increase in interest from European investors over the past year.
Elon Musk's baby Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is never far from the news and talk of electric vehicles supplanting gasoline-powered peers has grown louder than ever, as countries increasingly too look beyond petrol and diesel.
Lithium is of course a major component in batteries for electric vehicles, hence the interest in the commodity and Leading Edge kicked off a second drill program at its Bergby lithium project in Sweden this summer after the “excellent” results it saw in the first round.
“Bergby has rapidly shaped up as a highly ranked lithium project in the Nordic region,” said chief executive Blair Way.
Bergby lies in central Sweden, 25km north of the town of Gavle, and has major roads, rail and power supply passing immediately adjacent to the claim boundaries.
More recently, LEM has reported positive results from testing of material from its Norra Karr heavy REE (rare earth element) deposit also in Sweden, including a development process it describes as a potential "game -changer".
The research was completed under the European Commission-financed EURARE project and made significant technical milestones, including showing high REE recovery with a substantial reduction in water used and recovered additional high-value metals hafnium and zirconium.
Norra Karr has a proven mineral reserve of 23.6mln tonnes at 0.59% total rare earth oxide (TREO).
A prefeasibility study in 2015 estimated an after-tax net present value (NPV) of US$313
Ironically perhaps, electric car batteries contain more graphite than they do lithium, and, as well as cars, are used in all sorts from smart phones to solar panels.
Leading Edge, in a second set of encouraging battery test results this year, revealed that material from its Woxna mine in Sweden has been used to make a 18650 lithium-ion battery cells and performed well.
Such batteries are equivalent to those used in Tesla vehicles and the firm said results were 'strong and consistent', showing they could be used to create a long battery life - vital in such vehicles.
At the Woxna mine, the firm usefully has 100 tons of material stored and available for further testing. Testing is a vital part of development such resource technology and is likely to go on for at least six to 12 months more, according to LEM.
The firm is encouraged by the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries, and is ready to supply potential new gigafactories in Europe (like Tesla's in Nevada), and it is in the right place to do so - in Scandinavia.
At the end of April, the firm announced a $2mln investment, secured from a select group of strategic European investors who are active in the development of European electro-mobility and green energy storage markets.
Leading Edge says it's the only western producer of natural flake graphite with a fully constructed, permitted and producing plant (100,000-tonne-per-annum feed producing 10,000 tons of over 90% graphite concentrate).
The Woxna plant was on care and maintenance when the firm bought it in 2011 and operations restarted in 2015 using freshly mined material but falling prices for flake graphite and a downturn in the sector meant operations stopped.
The plant is now on what's called a production-ready basis while higher value graphite products are developed and will not restart until market conditions improves.
Don't forget Rotmyran...
Earlier this year, LEM said it was expanding its footprint in Sweden further, staking a new lithium project called the Rotmyran project.
The project lies 20 kilometres north of Bergby and was selected as a high priority target based on the geological similarity to Bergby plus presence of a strong tin (Sn) - lithium (Li) till anomaly in Swedish Geological Survey data.