A Top-Tier Lithium Project in Saskatchewan Is Just the Start of This Young Company’s Ambitions

The need to enhance the reliability of supply chains for everything from parts for manufacturing to critical minerals is finally garnering the attention it deserves, and there is no better way to ensure this reliability than having all the stops along the way situated right in your own backyard.

While resource extraction has long been a forte of Canadian industry, an increasing number of companies are also now working to set up advanced domestic processing capacity, rather than simply shipping raw material overseas where other nations end up controlling the resource and keeping much of the value for themselves.

EMP Metals (CSE:EMPS) plans to be part of the solution for battery materials in North America, having recently released a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) evidencing a robust lithium project in mining-friendly Saskatchewan. And while there is plenty of its acreage still to be explored, the company is moving quickly to determine the best path to processing the lithium in its brines all the way up to the grade needed to make the batteries for electric vehicles.

EMP Chief Executive Officer Rob Gamley sat down recently with Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine to discuss accomplishments to date and the near-term outlook for getting his company’s contribution to the supply chain up and running.

EMP Metals has not only identified an attractive lithium brine deposit but you are also intending to work with partners on processing the brine once you take it out of the ground. Walk us through the business plan at a high level.

Our main focus is being the first group to have a commercial Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) facility up and running in Saskatchewan. We’ve taken a pragmatic approach by building an Inferred resource on our landholdings, which are also in the province, and followed that up recently with the release of a Preliminary Economic Assessment.

The next step is a four-month field pilot with Koch Technology Solutions to test 1,000 litres of feed brine from our project area. Downstream partner Saltworks Technologies will be a part of this test as well.

At the same time, we are doing a front-end engineering study, also with Saltworks, over a six-month period. All of these activities are designed to help us assess the technical aspects of our projects on an industrial scale.

Talk to us about your landholdings and what you’ve found so far. We hear the existence of wellbores from historic oil drilling helps to keep capital costs under control.

There were some government datapoints that enabled us to vector in on the specific locations we chose and, obviously, there were certain things we were excited to see from a geological perspective. This is a large regional aquifer and the geology is relatively simple.

Our initial plan was to enter existing wellbores to test them and thereby reduce our capital spending requirements, and we were successful with that. We also drilled new wells where there were not enough suitable existing ones to re-enter and test.

As for the basics of the projects, we have holdings in southeastern Saskatchewan totaling approximately 200,000 acres. These are predominantly crown mineral dispositions and separated into three key project areas, with the highlight so far being the Viewfield portion.

We’ve tested what to our knowledge are the highest lithium brine concentrations proven so far in Canada, with concentrations up to 259 milligrams per litre. Our Inferred resource on the Viewfield project is 747,526  tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), and at Mansur the Inferred resource is 503,462 LCE.

What about processing the brines once they are out of the ground?

The plan is for brines to be processed and the lithium extracted through DLE technology from one of our partners. It would then be concentrated, refined and converted by the downstream service provider I mentioned earlier, Saltworks.

Like our company, Saltworks is based in Western Canada, so you have a world-class Canadian resource and a top-tier Canadian technology company teaming up on this. Saltworks is a global leader in wastewater treatment and lithium refining solutions and is able to take extracted lithium and refine it to the standard of battery-grade lithium carbonate. In our case, we were able to produce carbonate at 99.95% purity.  That’s the triple nines that you’re looking for in order to have true battery-grade lithium.

I think with the trends we currently see of deglobalization, onshoring, bolstering supply chains, and with the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments supportive of these developments, what we are working on is timely and important. You can’t necessarily rely on other sources in today’s world. With what we are advancing, it should be easier to assess the risk.

On that note, Saskatchewan is known as a particularly good jurisdiction for resource companies. Tell us about your experience.

Our experience in Saskatchewan has been nothing short of fantastic. The provincial government is highly supportive as it looks to further diversify its mining and energy sectors. We’ve received a lot of public support for our project as well.

There are so many advantages. Not just the extensive infrastructure owing to years of oil and gas activity that means access to power and other project requirements, but also Saskatchewan being ranked third in the world, and first in Canada, for mining investment attractiveness by the Fraser Institute. There is no better place to be for this business in our opinion.

You came out with your PEA just after the start of the year. Walk us through the numbers.

We are very pleased with the Preliminary Economic Assessment. It shows that we have a large project which compares well vis-à-vis our peers.

I think it’s important to highlight that the numbers in the PEA represent only 14% of our overall landholdings. The project life is 23.2 years, producing 282,090 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate.  Using an average selling price of US$20,000 per tonne of LCE, our after-tax Net Present Value (NPV) at an 8% discount rate is US$1.066 billion. The after-tax internal rate of return (IRR) is 45% and our payback period is 2.4 years at the after-tax number.

Reflected in that last point is that our operating expenditure (OPEX) estimate is one of the lowest in North America thanks to the concentration and quality of the brine.

In the third quarter of 2023, EMP announced an investment of just over C$9.7 million from a private equity group in the U.K., which is quite an accomplishment in this challenging market. We know you are in frequent touch with shareholders. Is there any feedback from the investment community you can share with us on the project or sector in general?

Obviously, the lithium price has not held up as well as the industry had hoped.  But there is certainly a belief that the long-term outlook is robust, with EV sales globally up 30% last year. So, we see the electrification of the economy and green trends continuing.

Regarding the investment community, the mining-focused U.K. investor you mentioned conducted a lot of due diligence on our project and it held up fine, resulting in them taking an equity stake in EMP of almost 20% – it’s a huge endorsement of our company. Further, we clearly have caught the attention of major oil and gas players and strategics. They see our company as a good place to deploy capital owing to our asset quality and the regulatory environment in Canada.

Again, we’ve got a great reservoir with the highest concentrations we know of in Canada to date, low OPEX and an attractive IRR. And I can’t overstate how important it is to be working in a jurisdiction such as Saskatchewan where things are significantly de-risked from a permitting perspective and support from the government and public.

Is there anything we have missed?

I would say that EMP really differentiates itself with a pragmatic, economics-driven approach. We have done a significant amount of work to de-risk the project over the last 12 months, and our top-tier technical team enables us to advance things quite quickly. I would reiterate that our brine is of particularly high quality with no oil or hydrogen sulphides, and that translates into cost savings because little to no pre-treatment is required.

From a geological standpoint, we are in the Duperow formation, which is significantly shallower than the Leduc formation in Alberta, and this is another factor helping to keep costs under control. Add in our commitment to working with the best DLE companies and downstream refiners in the business and I believe things are lining up for us to make big strides in the months and years ahead.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about EMP Metals at https://empmetals.com/.

Synergy Abounds When You Put Salt Mining, Hydrogen Storage and Ammonia Cracking Under One Roof

Salt was one of the most valuable commodities in ancient times. In fact, the phrase “worth its salt” is thought to have originated with the ancient Romans, who valued their sodium chloride highly.

Roman soldiers at the time received wages so they could purchase salt to preserve food such as meat and fish, in what was known as a monthly “salarium,” which has evolved into the English word “salary.”

Today, salt has a wide range of commercial and consumer applications, from water treatment, drilling fluids and winter road maintenance to food processing, condiments and preservatives.

Globally, the size of the salt market is projected to grow from US$34.1 billion in 2023 to $48.6 billion by 2030, according to Fortune Business Insights.

Canadian company Vortex Energy (CSE:VRTX) hopes to capture some of those sales through the advancement of its Robinsons River Salt Project located in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In doing so, it would help to reduce the 7-10 million tonne per year road salt shortfall that leads Canada and the U.S. to turn to the import market to top up their supplies, according to Mining.com.

“Where we are located is near one of the largest salt discoveries in eastern North America,” Vortex Energy Chief Executive Officer Paul Sparkes tells Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

“We are also next to a large, proposed hydrogen project called World Energy, which will require storage not only for hydrogen but also for green energy.”

Sparkes, an accomplished business leader and entrepreneur, is a former director of operations under Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and has also served as a senior aide to two premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Vortex Energy boasts an experienced and distinguished management and advisory team as well, which includes famed Yukon gold prospector Shawn Ryan, and George Furey, who served as speaker of the Senate of Canada from 2015 to 2023.

Robinsons River, which is comprised of 942 claims covering 23,500 hectares, contains two large-scale salt structures that were identified through geophysical and seismic exploration. The maximum thickness of the salt strata is estimated to be 1,700-1,800 metres in both structures.

As salt is extracted from the ground it leaves behind caverns or domes, which are ideal locations for storing hydrogen, an increasingly popular clean fuel option.

Salt caverns feature some significant advantages when it comes to storing hydrogen. First, the caverns allow for safe storage of large quantities of hydrogen under pressure with minimal environmental disturbance at the surface. As well, they enable flexibility regarding injection and withdrawal cycles.

Vortex began drilling the Robinsons River project in November of last year, with the first occurrence of salt rock occurring at a depth of 581.5 metres at the Western Salt Structure, which has the potential to house an estimated amount of 250,000 tonnes of hydrogen in more than 25 caverns.

The company notes that based on available geological information, the East and West Salt Structures have a conservatively estimated potential combined hydrogen storage capacity of up to 800,000 tonnes within more than 60 caverns.

Vortex Energy says its Robinsons River salt dome project could be as much as 127% larger in terms of hydrogen storage potential than the Fischell Salt Dome owned by privately held Triple Point Resources.

In addition, Robinsons River’s location in Newfoundland and Labrador positions the project as a potentially viable alternative for supplying the U.S. East Coast with hydrogen, due to ready port access and distance to U.S. customers.

European markets are a distinct possibility as well, particularly in light of the agreement Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in August 2022 envisioning a hydrogen alliance between their two countries.

Good access to power and roads underpins favourable logistics for moving product from site to port.

Vortex also holds the licence and right to use ammonia cracking reactor technology and membrane separator technology for producing hydrogen from ammonia.  According to Vortex, the technology causes the ammonia molecule to be “broken apart” in a process that creates inert nitrogen, which can be safely released into the atmosphere, and pure hydrogen, which is suitable for use as fuel.

Sparkes notes, though, that the technology is still in the “early stages,” reasserting that the company’s main focus is the salt resource and cavern storage opportunity.

But with a variety of end uses that include automobiles and maritime vessels, it is an important aspect of the company’s overall strategy and worth keeping an eye on as things progress.  Once all R&D work is complete, plans call for building a commercial prototype facility to produce high-purity hydrogen at a customer site to validate the system’s operating performance in a commercial setting.

Looking ahead, Vortex Energy recently raised C$1 million in flow-through funds and $1.5 million of hard dollars in an equity private placement, which the company will use to advance its Robinsons River project.

“Our first drill hole was completed before the Christmas holidays in late 2023, in which salt was hit in the first hole,” Sparkes says.

He added that the company has begun drilling its second hole, upon completion of which core from the two drill holes will be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

The drilling of the second hole is designed to confirm the depth of the salt rock structures at the project as well as to assess the geological properties of the salt and non-salt rocks.

Listed only since late December of 2022, Vortex Energy has assembled an impressively diverse team and proven its ability to raise capital and move expeditiously forward with project modeling and exploratory drilling. With completion of its second hole on the horizon, 2024 is shaping up to be an important year for the company as it enters a new phase of its multi-faceted growth strategy.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Vortex Energy at https://vortexenergycorp.com/.

Quiet Market an Opportunity Rather Than a Hurdle for This Québec-Focused Explorer

Amid a challenging environment for junior miners, Abitibi Metals (CSE:AMQ) took an aggressive approach to acquisitions and financing in the fourth quarter of 2023 to put itself in a strong position for when resource stocks bounce back.

Notably, the company capitalized on the Canadian financing calendar, successfully securing over $14 million through a combination of charity flow-through and common shares in December. 

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine caught up with Jon Deluce, Abitibi Metals’ Founder and Chief Executive Officer, to talk about the company’s recent acquisition of the B26 polymetallic copper deposit and plans to put some of its newly raised capital to work on 30,000 metres of drilling.

Abitibi Metals is focused on the Abitibi Greenstone Belt in Québec. What opportunities does the company see in this region?

We see Québec as the best mining jurisdiction in Canada. The government support, positive relationships with First Nations groups, and the pro-mining sentiment create a strong foundation for mining activities in the province.

We’re excited about the opportunity to be in Québec because we’re on the verge of a commodity cycle that’s starting to turn and accelerate. Having a copper-focused project like B26 in a strong jurisdiction like Québec significantly enhances the value and prospects for developing such an asset. 

It was November of last year when you acquired the option to earn 80% of the B26 project. What does this mean for the company?

We had made the tough decision to reduce operations, and in turn cash burn, because we weren’t getting rewarded for our gold asset in what has been a very challenging market for the last one to two years in the junior mining sector. Our team decided not to wait for market conditions to come to us but to be aggressive and realize the opportunities that were at hand.

We looked at quite a few potential acquisitions to restart the pursuit of our exploration goals and provide a lower cost of capital. In the end, we landed on the B26 deposit, an asset developed by SOQUEM, a private company funded by Investissement Québec. We view this as both a discovery and an acquisition given the fact that the majority of the market didn’t realize this was available because it was sitting in a private company.

We’re starting with a significant resource (Indicated resource of 7.0 million tonnes at 2.94% copper equivalent and Inferred resource of 4.4 million tonnes at 2.97% copper equivalent). This is a polymetallic deposit with a copper-gold stringer zone and parallel zinc-silver massive sulphide zone. These types of assets are rare, especially a polymetallic deposit with gold in the system. We believe this presents a strong starting resource with room for expansion.

Our plan for the year includes an ambitious drilling program of 30,000 metres to further develop and highlight the growth and upside potential of this asset, which is situated within 7 kilometres of our prior flagship asset, the Beschefer Gold Project.

We also benefit from mining infrastructure still being in place, such as a power line that runs 3 kilometres north of the project. These are all factors that support this being a serious potential development opportunity.

What are some of the key targets you’ll be drilling as part of this year’s program?

We’re starting exploration right away and asking ourselves, ‘Where’s the low-hanging fruit?’ and ‘Where can we develop value for shareholders cost-effectively?’

The 2018 resource was almost solely an underground resource. We see the potential and we want to test the open pit bulk tonnage potential of the asset so that’s going to be a priority in the first quarter of 2024.

To break down the drilling plan: number one is testing the open pit with shallow drilling testing the north bedrock interface of the deposit; number two is testing the extension and expansion potential within the first 300 metres vertical, which hosts the majority of the copper-gold resource; and number three is testing the system at depth. There’s a large infill area that needs to be drilled to define the full resource potential between 300 metres and 850 metres vertical.

There’s also about 5,000 metres of historical drilling that we believe needs to be assayed, that wasn’t previously, and it could help us assess the potential disseminated and bulk tonnage material around this high-grade core.

What else can investors expect from Abitibi Metals in 2024?

Beyond drilling activities, our plans include conducting a comprehensive gravity survey at B26, aimed at enhancing our understanding of the deposit’s overall structure. We will also delve into downhole geophysics, adding another layer to our understanding of the structure. 

In addition, an internal resource and updated 3D model will provide us with a strong exploration and growth framework. We aim to present our plans coherently to the market, ensuring that stakeholders can readily comprehend our results and grasp the growth potential.

In essence, our focus spans across drilling, modelling and geophysics, all converging to shape a compelling and comprehensible value proposition for the exciting year ahead.

Abitibi Metals recently raised just under $15 million. Tell us about those fundraising rounds.

The company was certainly a standout in the fourth quarter in what was still a very challenging market. We were able to complete a $4.4 million financing in December, immediately followed by a $10 million charity flow-through. And these financings were completed without issuing any warrants, which is a rare thing in this market and speaks to investor optimism about what we’ve put together.

So, our exploration budget for 2024 is $10 million, which will cover the objectives I have just outlined. In terms of our B26 option agreement, we are funded to clear phase one of the option, which we have four years to complete, in one year.

We brought in some strategic shareholders headlined by Frank Giustra and Greg Chamandy, both very well-known names in the space and the start of what I think is a great shareholder registry.

We’re also assembling the right team. Recently announced were the first two team members of our advisory committee, namely Eric Kallio, a former senior vice president of exploration at both Agnico Eagle and Kirkland Lake Gold, and Shane Williams, formerly a vice president at Eldorado Gold and he oversaw a landmark Québec project from pre-development agreement through to commercial production.

My thesis going into the acquisition of B26 was that we needed to find a potentially world-class asset to assemble a world-class team, and we’re at the start of that.

What is your outlook on the junior mining sector more broadly in 2024?

I see the sector performing incredibly well in 2024. Timing is a hard thing to dictate – I wish I had a crystal ball – but all the factors are there: easing inflationary pressures, the Fed pivoting on interest rate policy, and supply-demand imbalances for critical minerals like copper. Look what happened in other sectors when the supply-demand balance tipped, like it did with nickel a few years ago and what’s going on with uranium at the moment. It’s going to be very exciting.

We’re in a waiting period. But we didn’t want to wait for the market to come to us, so we were very aggressive in the fourth quarter with financing and acquisitions to be well-positioned for the market we believe is coming.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Abitibi Metals at https://abitibimetals.com/.

Excitement Follows When You Unveil One of the Largest Lithium Projects of Its Kind

Some 200 kilometres from Las Vegas sits Sarcobatus Flat. It is a massive dry lakebed, similar to its nearby neighbour Area 51, the birthplace of generations of advanced U.S. aircraft and, according to some, home to who knows what else.

Sarcobatus Flat is part of the Nevada desert and you can see it for miles due to an eye-catching surface that looks like a dusting of snow. Underneath that white blanket of salts lies what Mining Intelligence ranks as the third-largest lithium clay and hard rock project in the world, Bonnie Claire.

This is the project proudly held by Nevada Lithium Resources (CSE:NVLH). The company has 18,300 acres of land at Bonnie Claire and has completed a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). By the numbers, the project contains 18.37 million tonnes of Inferred lithium carbonate equivalent.

That’s all the more notable when one considers that the global lithium market is projected to hit sales of US$15.45 billion by 2028, according to data from Research and Markets.

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine sat down with Chief Executive Officer Stephen Rentschler to discuss what’s coming next at Bonnie Claire and the future of lithium as a commodity.

Let’s begin with an overview of Bonnie Claire. When you engage with new investors during presentations, how do you articulate what Bonnie Claire entails?

Bonnie Claire is an advanced lithium exploration project located in Nevada, two and a half hours northwest of Las Vegas. Our project gate is 50 metres from Interstate 95 and high voltage power wires traverse the entire length of our property, which is the size of Manhattan Island.

We’ve finished a PEA and have a robust project of substantial scale, projecting an annual output exceeding 30,000 tonnes over a mine life of 40 years. Even at conservative lithium prices, the PEA suggests a project with a net present value exceeding US$1.5 billion.

And while we have more than enough resource already, the prospect of discovering additional resources remains a distinct possibility.

I also tell investors that although Bonnie Claire is often referred to as a clay deposit, a nuanced understanding is required because sedimentary deposits are relatively new to the scene. The world has simply never needed the lithium they contain. South American salars (salt flats), and then the hard rock deposits, had been forecasted to provide the needed lithium supply. 

But now, with the world significantly increasing the projected number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads, a third category has entered the scene: the sedimentary deposits, often referred to as clays, which in the U.S. are predominantly found in Nevada. These sedimentary deposits tend to be of lower grade compared to many hard rocks, and even some brines. However, in Nevada, the size is the key. Lower grade is compensated for by vast tonnages.

Typically, I finish my presentation by telling investors that in just over two years, Nevada Lithium Resources has gone public on the CSE, acquired progressively larger percentages of this world-class project, and last summer consolidated 100% ownership of the property. Now, we are in the initial stages of introducing ourselves to the investing public, leveraging our new full ownership status.

Is the next step in this process a Preliminary Feasibility Study?

Yes, and ideally our Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) should be completed around the close of 2024, plus or minus a few months. Following the PFS, we envision launching immediately into a Feasibility Study that we think will take two years to complete.

Unlike the output of many of the lithium projects being developed globally, Bonnie Claire’s lithium will not need to go somewhere else for conversion into battery-grade material. Our lithium will be ready for immediate use, ideally in one of the many U.S. or Canadian battery plants that are currently being developed. This will allow end users of Bonnie Claire’s lithium to extract maximum value from the tax credits offered by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. 

It’s interesting to see different methods for exploring for lithium within the sector. How would you characterize your process and how does execution and cost differ when pursuing lithium at your project as compared to other approaches?

Because of the expansive nature of the sedimentary deposits, a considerable amount of drilling is needed to adequately define the resource. In the case of Bonnie Claire, which has a massive footprint, the drilling is laterally expansive, already covering multiple kilometres.  And because of the tremendous columns of lithium we’ve encountered, the drilling is very deep. Our latest assay results have shown even higher grades over almost an additional 200 metres below our deepest holes. So, for us, making sure we are not missing the best mineralization will cost additional money. This is not a small pegmatite field that we are drilling out.

Another difference with our process goes back to the distinction between sedimentary and clay-hosted lithium mineralization. In simple terms, our recovery flow sheet is significantly different than most of the other Nevada-based projects because our localized geology is different. Our lithium is not bound in the clays, so we avoid the use of sulphuric or hydrochloric acid to liberate the lithium. This is an important part of our ESG (environmental, social and governance) profile that we think differentiates us from our peers and makes our lithium particularly attractive to lithium end users. 

Looking ahead, how do you position the company to emerge as a key player in the lithium space?

I am convinced that there is a secular supply-demand mismatch due to the global commitment to an EV future. Given the tremendous economic and geopolitical advantages of our Nevada location, we want to build a world-scale lithium mine, producing battery-grade lithium headed for the U.S. auto market. And we want to do that as quickly as possible. 

Part of our strategy is to use our management team’s collective experience to proactively mitigate the effects of obstacles that will always emerge during the development of a natural resource asset. At the same time, we are working to achieve important technical milestones as early as possible. An example of this is having already proved our ability to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate, which we believe differentiates us from many other lithium developers.

In my opinion, Nevada will emerge as the centrepiece of the future U.S. lithium supply chain, and our intent is to leverage Nevada’s location, history and culture. Nevada is perennially ranked as one of the very top mining jurisdictions in the world, with a rich history of gold, silver and copper production. A recent trip to Canada by Joseph Lombardo, Governor of Nevada, showcased his intent to extract maximum value from the lithium industry for his state. Concurrently, Nevada Lithium intends to extract part of that value for its shareholders through the responsible development of Bonnie Claire.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Nevada Lithium Resources at https://nevadalithium.com/.

Leading the Charge to Develop an Integrated North American Supply Chain for LFP Batteries

Around two-thirds of the batteries used to power new electric vehicles (EVs) in China are now of the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) variety, overtaking lithium-ion batteries as manufacturers aim for reliability and lower price points in the world’s fastest-growing EV market.

The trend in North America is moving that way as well, spurred by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which offers big incentives to manufacturers and consumers.

The IRA’s clean vehicle tax credit, which has already attracted nearly US$100 billion in private-sector investment, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, supports consumers with savings on new clean vehicles while creating jobs and fostering a resilient domestic supply chain. 

There are provisos, though. EVs made with minerals and materials from China won’t qualify for the credit.

Starting in 2024, EVs can’t use battery components from a “foreign entity of concern,” expanding to include minerals in 2025 and prompting a race for automakers to adapt or risk losing tax credits. 

As companies reorganize supply chains for battery parts and minerals outside of China, First Phosphate (CSE:PHOS) is a step ahead. The mineral development company aims to transform the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Québec into North America’s LFP Battery Valley and believes it has a unique proposition.

First Phosphate holds and is actively developing over 1,500 square kilometres of district-scale land claims in the region. The properties host rare anorthosite igneous phosphate rock that can yield the high-purity phosphate required to create the materials used in the manufacture of LFP batteries.

A 43-101 technical report and Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) on its flagship Lac à l’Orignal property revealed 15.8 million tonnes of phosphate (P2O5) in the Indicated category, and a further 33.2 million tonnes in the Inferred category, with a pre-tax net present value of C$795.3 million and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 21.7% at a discount rate of 5%.

The project would produce an annual average of 425,000 tonnes of beneficiated phosphate concentrate at over 40% P2O5 content, 280,000 tonnes of magnetite and 97,000 tonnes of ilmenite over a mine life of 14.2 years.

Nearby at its Bégin-Lamarche property, First Phosphate is conducting a 25,000 metre drill program that should position the company to calculate a 43-101 resource estimate, with a PEA expected to follow. 

Meanwhile, a geological reconnaissance program at its Larouche property, just 40 kilometres from the Port of Saguenay, also revealed strong assay results, including one sample grading 39.45% P2O5.

The company’s goal is to integrate material from these properties into the supply chains of major North American LFP battery producers that require battery-grade LFP cathode active material (CAM) from a consistent and secure supply source.

“What makes us unique is we are trying to set up a fully North American supply chain, and we’re working and we’re cooperating with those who are aligned with that vision,” says Chief Executive Officer John Passalacqua.

“We’re the start of the supply chain; we’re the critical minerals. So, if it starts clean in North America with us, then we make sure that all of our partners downstream, everything that goes into making the battery, the car or the storage system, will be North American-based as far as possible.”

With First Phosphate’s deposits forming the first pillar, Passalacqua explains that his team has established strategic partnerships and alliances with companies that will complete the supply chain as it sticks to both the spirit and the letter of the law in the IRA.

These include Belgium’s Prayon, whose technology is used to produce over 50% of the world’s phosphoric acid. Prayon is looking at a long-term offtake agreement for First Phosphate’s phosphate rock as well as the potential for a purified phosphoric acid toll processing agreement.

The company has also entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NorFalco, a division of Glencore Canada, to secure the supply of sulphuric acid needed to manufacture phosphoric acid. 

A non-binding MOU with Sun Chemical Corporation to develop intermediates used to produce lithium iron phosphate-based cathode active material (LFP CAM) extends the potential supply chain even further.

“We have a number of companies that have processes to make LFP CAM that are interested in working with us,” says Passalacqua.

“Sun Chemical, one of the world’s leading suppliers of inks and pressroom products, with a massive manufacturing footprint around the world, is available with their manufacturing facilities to partner with us to actually build LFP CAM, which is important because that saves on capital outlays.”

In December, First Phosphate signed an MOU with Las Vegas-based Ultion Technologies for the purchase of a non-exclusive, perpetual license for technology to produce LFP and lithium iron manganese phosphate (LFMP) cathode active materials.

A partnership with American Battery Factory aims to support the production of up to 40,000 tonnes of fully North American-manufactured LFP CAM annually.

Finally, the Port of Saguenay can provide access to overseas.

“In everything we do, we’re looking to promote environmental stewardship, while doing it at home and creating jobs at home,” Passalacqua says. 

“We’re trying to get very integrated into the downstream activities so that it becomes a fluid process; it becomes a real supply chain.”

Passalacqua believes a number of factors will continue to drive the push to LFP batteries, including cost, as they are cheaper to manufacture than lithium-ion batteries that use cathode active material from nickel, manganese and cobalt (NMC), which are tougher to source and more toxic. Cobalt also has issues related to ethical supply.

Additionally, the NMC cathode contains available oxygen, making it more susceptible to thermal runaway, which can result in fires. That’s not the case with LFP batteries, which are much more stable. 

Above all, Passalacqua says price is a big factor in choosing LFP batteries, as the cost to produce LFP CAM is generally much lower than for NMC CAM.

“Because of that, there has been a huge flock to LFP batteries,” he says.

“LFP batteries have been known to offer 25% to 30% less range than an NMC battery but the technology is increasing on both of those batteries such that an LFP battery may now get you a 300 kilometre to 350 kilometre range in some models and generally without any associated memory issues.”

While more expensive vehicles that need range for out-of-city driving still veer towards NMC batteries, vehicles targeted for city driving are shifting to LFP due to the price factor. 

Passalacqua says Tesla managed, at one point, to offer pricing below US$40,000 using LFP batteries.

With changes to the IRA, automakers, including Tesla, won’t be able to source their LFP batteries from China, which will work in favour of local companies like First Phosphate.  

“In order to get the IRA subsidies, you need to have a retail price of under US$55,000 on passenger vehicles and one way to get there is with an LFP battery.

“The practical considerations around the LFP battery are cost, certainly the fire safety, and even though it has shorter range you can generally charge it at any point in its battery cycle due to the lack of memory issues.”

For now, though, fresh from an $8.2 million financing, Passalacqua says the immediate priority is to further uncover the deposit at Bégin-Lamarche.

“We have to decide on a potential mine site, start feasibility studies, and take the purified phosphoric acid Prayon prepares for us and send it to potential clients for possible offtakes and partnerships,” he says. 

“We also need to start planning for a purified phosphoric acid plant at the Port of Saguenay.”

Passalacqua says First Phosphate is sitting on perhaps one of the purest phosphate rock qualities in the world, and in one of the best jurisdictions in the world for mining and electrification.

“We want to have the ability to produce much of the phosphoric acid that is going to be needed in North America for the LFP battery in a clean, ethical, just-in-time fashion. We are 100% dedicated to that,” the CEO says.

“We’re well-managed, we’re well-capitalized and we’re fully North American so that opens all the doors to great working relationships with North American companies and North American governments.”

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about First Phosphate at https://firstphosphate.com/.

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Mining Issue – Now Live!

Welcome to the latest issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, your source for in-depth stories of entrepreneurs from a wealth of different industries.

From our vantage point at the CSE, mining continues to be a significant story. The remarkable influx of new listings, robust liquidity, and material capital raises by mining companies listed on the CSE underscore a clear message: even in the face of adversity, the mining and exploration sector’s pursuit of progress remains undeterred. Certainly, the firms featured in this edition of the magazine highlight resilience and innovation in action.

In this issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, we feature five CSE listed mining companies racing to unlock economic opportunities across North America as green becomes the new gold.

The CSE listed companies featured in this issue include:

Check out the Mining Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine here: 

Raising the Bar for Accuracy and Cost-Efficiency in Testing for Respiratory Illnesses

COVID-19’s devastating impact on the world has shone a spotlight on the importance of effective diagnostic testing for respiratory illnesses.

Canada and UK–based company Gemina Laboratories (CSE:GLAB) is progressing multiple Point-of-Care (PoC) diagnostic products for respiratory diseases, utilizing proprietary chemistry that the company calls “one of the most significant developments in rapid in vitro diagnostics since its invention.”

“Our technologies enable tests to be less expensive, more sensitive and more environmentally friendly,” Brian Firth, Gemina Laboratories Chief Executive Officer, tells Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Firth, a 35-year veteran of the PoC diagnostics industry, spent nearly eight years at Swiss Precision Diagnostics, producer of the Clearblue-branded pregnancy test, first as managing director of its UK subsidiary and later as chief operating officer of the parent company.

He has also owned a health tech advisory practice, with clients that included Agfa, Johnson & Johnson and AkzoNobel.

Gemina’s CEO explains that the company’s technologies fit into two groups: one that improves lateral flow tests and another that improves molecular testing.

Lateral flow technology, which is commonly used in home pregnancy tests, has traditionally been subject to poor accuracy compared to laboratory equipment due to inefficient deposition of the antibody, or “catcher”, in which as little as 30% of the antibody is effective.

Gemina’s proprietary chemistry is a surface chemistry binder that acts like a stand for the catcher, ensuring that all catchers are oriented in the optimum position, which increases both stickiness and efficiency so that 100% of the catcher is effective.

The company’s lateral flow improvements enable the same sensitivity as traditional tests but with 75% less antibody usage, which is one of the major cost advantages.

Its technologies also enable tests to be built on paper, derived from plant cells contained in products such as cotton, wood and hemp, rather than using expensive and difficult-to-source nitrocellulose, which has been used for the nearly 40-year history of the lateral flow assay.

Developed in the 1800s, nitrocellulose is formed by treating cellulose with a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids to produce a flammable compound that only degrades slowly in the environment, releasing nitric acid in the process.

The compound is well suited to lateral flow assay development due, in part, to the uniformity of the nitrocellulose pore structure and to the binding affinity between nitrocellulose and the antibodies used in the lateral flow immunoassay format.

Gemina’s technologies allow tests to be made efficiently on local manufacturing cells that can be built in any country, bringing true diagnostics access to even low-income countries.

The company’s molecular technologies, meanwhile, have enabled assays to be run on fully portable molecular diagnostic machines, which can detect tuberculosis (TB) in saliva, improving the screening for TB globally.

Its molecular technologies product will enter clinical trials in 2024 with the global launch expected in 2025.

Gemina’s testing breakthrough has the goal of creating affordable, rapid, lab-accurate PoC diagnostics in any environment, worldwide.

PoC is a market that has estimated compound annual growth of 7% and is expected to reach US$55.3 billion by 2030, according to Allied Market Research.

“Gemina will begin to generate regular revenues early in 2024 with breakeven coming in early 2025,” Firth says.

He noted the company has devised a multifaceted revenue strategy that encompasses traditional product distribution, technology licensing, franchised manufacturing and a promising new venture in the pharmacy channel.

Traditional product distribution will be used for tests Gemina develops and brings to market. The company will also license its technologies to large diagnostics companies to significantly improve their processes.

As well, Gemina will engage in franchised/distributed manufacturing where manufacturing cells are licensed to individual countries, enabling these nations to manufacture their own critical diagnostics. The company will further supply the key reagents (a substance or mixture for use in chemical analysis or other reactions) and components for the individual tests the countries create.

Finally, Gemina is currently developing a pharmacy revenue channel supporting the move internationally toward test-to-treat programs.

Firth says the company’s earliest revenues will come from licence deals that are currently in negotiations, with the first of these expected to be signed soon.

To help accelerate its licence deals and partnership opportunities, Gemina recently engaged global investment bank Stifel, which has extensive licensing experience across the life sciences sector, as its exclusive financial advisor.

The initial licence deals will be followed by product distribution agreements for Asia as well as franchise manufacturing deals that are anticipated to be signed by the end of 2024.

Gemina is targeting a 20% share of the respiratory test market within 10 years, with its first product expected to be launched in the European and African markets.

To finance its growth, Firth said the company is planning a private placement in the closing months of 2023 into early 2024 that should support its strategy through 2024. 

Firth adds that the company is also seeing interest from several grant funds that will work with Gemina to secure appropriate non-dilutive funding.

And there are expectations that at some point during 2024, Gemina will use the upfront payment components of licence deals as another form of non-dilutive financing.

Looking ahead, Gemina’s CEO sees several upcoming catalysts that could help to boost corporate value.

Gemina anticipates signing its first significant licensing partnership by year’s end.

Within the next six months, the company expects to report positive pre-clinical results for its TB test, with full clinical results and the launch of the TB test targeted to occur sometime over the next year and a half.

As well, Gemina should announce the signing of distribution agreements for its molecular tests within the next year.

The company also anticipates launching its protein production facility toward the end of 2024, which will supply the increasing number of licensees expected to be signed.

Finally, along with Gemina’s first significant revenue in 2024, the company is gearing up for franchise bookings for local manufacturing facilities from multiple countries.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Gemina Laboratories at http://geminalabs.com/.

Democratizing Cannabis Markets While Aiming to Become Canada’s Leading Vice Retailer

You don’t have to look far on the Canadian Securities Exchange to find a cannabis issuer, as some of the world’s most progressive laws governing the plant’s sales and usage have led to rapid growth in cannabis companies turning to Canadian capital markets to grow their businesses.

Among those, 1CM (CSE:EPIC) stands out for the returns it has delivered for shareholders this year, with its market capitalization recently at an all-time high of $263 million.

The multidimensional cannabis company says it is dedicated to democratizing cannabis markets. It is doing this, partly, through its One Cannabis Market technology platform, which provides business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) solutions, including last-mile delivery, digital signage, big data analytics and wholesale clearing services.

Its retail operations are centred on T Cannabis, targeting the rural cannabis retail market, and Cost Cannabis, which is focused on urban consumers.

Following the 2021 acquisition of Tirthankar, a cannabis retailer founded by industry veteran Tanvi Bhandari, the company appointed Bhandari as its Chief Executive Officer six months later.

In a recent discussion with Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, Bhandari shared her vision for 1CM.

1CM is succeeding in an industry that many companies have found more challenging than they had first anticipated. What gives you an edge?

I think the lowest prices, accompanied by dedication to customer service. When I started my company in 2020, my main goal was to position it to have the lowest operating overheads possible, and then determine the minimum margin required for a successful and scalable business. I think that’s what gives us an edge in the market compared to other retailers.

You say you are using technology to democratize cannabis markets. How are you doing that?

With technology, we do everything in-house with the sole purpose of, again, improving the customer service experience. For example, we have the 1CM loyalty app that’s currently live on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

This app leverages decentralized loyalty points that can be redeemed on the app for NFT coupons, in-store or taken off the app into the customer’s other non-custodial wallets. The ability for the customer to own their loyalty points and their NFT coupons and take them offline into their non-custodial wallets is a great example of democratizing the cannabis loyalty platform. So that’s something exciting. And then we also have our first wholesale e-commerce portal for retailers in Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan, other wholesalers operate in a more archaic fashion: they send out weekly Excel inventory lists and expect customers to send them back a purchase order.

We developed an intuitive e-commerce portal with a focus on user interface/user experience. This site allows our wholesale customers to browse, add to their cart, manage their available credit, make payments and check out.

As soon as the order is placed, we send them an advanced shipping notice (ASN) which includes the description and the images of the product that they’ve bought. The ASN can be automatically uploaded to their point of sale system, all of which significantly reduces the effort spent ordering and improves the service experience.

We also have a real-time delivery tracking app and a cannabis search engine that shows the customer the retailers around them selling the product and the price. They just need to type the product name, and it will show where the product has been sold and which location has the lowest price. This also helps us on the back end, as we use this data to ensure that our location has the lowest price.

I think there is a significant opportunity to utilize, develop and improve technology at scale in cannabis markets, and these improvements in technology will continue to democratize them. 

You entered the liquor, tobacco and consumer packaged goods (CPG) retail industry this year. Why the move into liquor?

We are expanding beyond cannabis into other vice industries. We aim to become Canada’s leading vice retailer. We see the cross-segment complementarity and will leverage our strengths and experience in low-margin retail to drive revenues from these other vice segments.

This is how it happened. Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) decided that they no longer wanted to operate any government-owned liquor stores and that they would all be auctioned out. Cost Cannabis won six auctioned liquor licences and then we went on to purchase some of the underlying real estate from the Saskatchewan government. The good thing about these licences is that they let us sell tobacco products along with all other CPG products depending on the municipality of the location. This is very exciting for us as we look forward to growing revenue in other vice segments, which include liquor, nicotine and CPG.

Will you look for other acquisition opportunities like this?

We’re currently looking for acquisition opportunities, both in cannabis and the liquor market. We’re trying to acquire stores at attractive valuations as the industry continues to consolidate.

Is it important to have an online presence as well as a physical presence?

Yes, 100%. I think it is important to have an online presence connected to the physical presence in this industry. That’s why we want to have the technology side of the business grow in the same way we want to grow our footprint across Canada.

Where do you see future growth coming from? Will it be organic growth or M&A?

I think both at this point. There are a lot of retailers who want to sell stores that are not performing well, so we’re looking for attractive valuations in the industry while also driving significant growth from increases in same-store sales, new locations, B2B wholesale in Saskatchewan and liquor and tobacco sales.

What’s your ultimate vision for 1CM?

My vision for 1CM is to become the leading retailer of vice in Canada, building a brick-and-mortar unicorn the old-fashioned way. That’s what I would want eventually for this company, and I think we’re going in the right direction.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about 1CM at https://1cminc.com/

Experienced Team Ready to Ride the Safe Supply Drug Trend With Patience and Prudent Investmentsexperienced Team Ready to Ride the Safe Supply Drug Trend With Patience and Prudent Investments

Governments around the world are pivoting away from a prohibition approach to the street-level drug trade in order to mitigate the harm related to its often toxic supply. 

Safe Supply Streaming (CSE:SPLY) was founded two and a half years ago in response to the opportunity presented by the burgeoning safe supply ecosystem. Its goal is to help end the opioid crisis, which claims the lives of 21 people in Canada every day.

Bill Panagiotakopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, told Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine that the company sees tremendous promise in what he calls the “third wave of drug reform,” projected to be a US$360 billion–plus total addressable market.

This “third wave” follows cannabis, which was legalized for recreational use in Canada in October 2018, and then psychedelics, which have shown promise in clinical trials as potential treatments for a range of physical and mental health conditions. 

“People, politicians and regulators are waking up to the fact that ‘The War on Drugs’ is a failed policy,” Panagiotakopoulos explains. “It’s cost us as a society over $1 trillion, millions of lives and left us with a highly toxic drug supply.”

Safe Supply Streaming believes that as more jurisdictions decriminalize and legalize psychoactive compounds and other drugs, new opportunities will emerge. As such, it acts like a venture studio and invests in and incubates companies positioned to play a pivotal role in the safe supply space. 

The company’s streaming model allows institutional and retail investors alike unique access to up-and-coming companies in the safe supply environment. 

“We’re going out and identifying companies, in most cases startups, and looking to see which ones are going to win. Being really early investors, we are giving our shareholders the first mover advantage,” Panagiotakopoulos says.

In some cases, Safe Supply Streaming can offer investors the ability to own a stake in these companies before they reach the capital markets. “That’s something not traditionally available to your average investor,” he notes.

Panagiotakopoulos says the company is looking at the entire safe supply space and placing bets on a diverse range of entities.

The company’s initial investment is in a business at the forefront of ensuring the safety of drugs: London, Ontario–based CannaLabs. The laboratory services company is researching a range of psychoactive compounds, including MDMA and DMT, and is Health Canada–licensed to conduct analytics and testing for compounds both imported and made in Canada to support safe supply programs. 

Safe Supply Streaming also has a pipeline of other candidates that it expects will lead to the expansion of its portfolio in the next six to 12 months.

“There’s so much going on in the third wave of drug reform,” says Panagiotakopoulos, pointing to fentanyl test strips as an example of the type of safe supply product or service the company would look to invest in.

Fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is also a major cause of overdoses and often shows up in MDMA, cocaine and other street drugs.

Until recently, fentanyl test strips were considered to be drug paraphernalia in the United States. But they can serve as an important tool in preventing opioid-related deaths. In Canada, 81% of apparent opioid toxicity deaths between January and March of 2023 involved fentanyl, up 42% since 2016, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The market for fentanyl test strips is expected to reach US$12.64 billion by 2030 and $6.77 billion in the United States alone by 2027.

Safe Supply Streaming is also exploring opportunities around new uses of the coca plant — known for its psychoactive alkaloid cocaine — such as in energy drinks, functional foods and pharmaceuticals.

Safe Supply Streaming’s leadership team features former executives from across the cannabis and psychedelics industries, as well as finance professionals who have the experience and knowledge required to make informed investments in the safe supply ecosystem. 

Collectively, the members of Safe Supply Streaming’s team have raised and deployed more than C$3.5 billion in capital during their careers and created more than $10 billion in shareholder value. 

Panagiotakopoulos believes it is important that the company be led by professionals who have worked in the drug ecosystem and have a deep understanding of its rules and regulations. Still, he says it isn’t easy to pick winners when it comes to cannabis and psychedelics investments.

“The best people to deal with these types of investments are those who have spent significant time in the cannabis world through its scheduling and ultimate legislation here in Canada or who have navigated the complex legal framework of having a ketamine clinic or conducting clinical trials of psilocybin to treat various ailments,” Panagiotakopoulos explains.

Safe Supply Streaming’s President is Ronan Levy, who has 15 years of capital markets experience building cannabis and psychedelics companies.

Levy co-founded and was Executive Chairman of Reunion Neurosciences, served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Field Trip Health & Wellness and founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx, which were both acquired by Aurora Cannabis in 2016. 

Setti Coscarella, Vice President of Corporate Development, worked as lead strategist of reduced-risk products at tobacco giant Philip Morris. Panagiotakopoulos notes that Coscarella’s experience in the highly regulated tobacco industry is important, in addition to his consumer packaged goods expertise.

The CEO himself brings around a decade of experience working in Canada’s cannabis sector, including participating in roundtables with Health Canada to shape the country’s licensing regime.

Among Safe Supply Streaming’s advisors are Aaron Sonshine, a partner at leading law firm Bennett Jones, and Michael Astone, a former managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald and current Chief Executive Officer of ArcStone Securities and Investments.

“You can have the right thesis but the wrong timing or the right timing but the wrong company — we’ve mitigated those risks,” Panagiotakopoulos says.

“We’re at the right time, which is early on, and the right sector, which we believe is going to be big.”

Safe Supply Streaming listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange in October, as well as on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the ticker QM4, and is working toward an OTC listing in the United States.

“We didn’t wait another two years until we were at a different valuation, and this allows everybody to make that investment with us,” Panagiotakopoulos says.

“We are hyper-focused on where the market is going to be in the next three to five years, and we’re making our bets. The fact that we’re publicly traded allows everybody to make those bets along with us.”

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Safe Supply Streaming at https://safesupply.com/.

Creating a single point of access to a broad range of crypto stories

Picking winners in the fast-evolving cryptocurrency, blockchain and artificial intelligence sectors isn’t easy for investors. A long list of major success stories fuels excitement about opportunities to deploy capital in both new and established companies, but as in any industry, there are also teams that were unable to reach their goals.

And yet, there is no doubt that the companies that do succeed will change the world. That’s certainly the belief at Web3 Ventures (CSE:WEBV), which offers investors exposure to entities that are pushing the boundaries for these innovative sectors.

“Look to the future and understand that things will be very different a decade from now,” says David Nikzad, the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. “I call it deep technology, and I think Web3 Ventures is all about community. It’s a community of people that want to bring parity to the financial system and make sure that what they get has trust and transparency.”

Nikzad got his start in digital marketing and has worked in investing for the last two and a half decades. Now, with his own fund, he’s become something of a shepherd for investors who may have misgivings about blockchain and Web 3.0. 

Take the collapse of FTX, which saw US$8.9 billion in customer assets go missing under the leadership of Sam Bankman-Fried. That hurt a lot of investors, but Nikzad believes there are positives moving forward. 

“It definitely shook a lot of people’s trust in crypto, but I think it was sort of a silver lining for the bigger banks to get into the industry. That drove BlackRock and others to get into the game. I think that in a weird way, it’s all going to work out perfectly, and I think that was the catalyst.”

The CEO has an optimism that borders on inevitability. He was an early disciple of the Satoshi Nakamoto white paper and bought Bitcoin before it took off. 

Web3 Ventures, he says, is his endeavour to give investors the same opportunity but through an audited, publicly traded company.

In terms of exposure, Web3 Ventures has a mandate to focus on decentralized finance, healthcare, telecommunications, tokenization, venture capital, blockchain games and social media. All told, the company has deployed $2 million since its inception. 

Notably, Web3 Ventures’ crypto assets are staked by a third-party custodian for greater security and fairer pricing, according to its website. 

“Look at us as a liquid fund that gives somebody a community of diversified assets that they can invest in the space,” Nikzad explains.

“This is a marathon for us,” he adds. “Digital assets will become the norm. Things will be tokenized. Big board exchanges will tokenize stocks. Usually, it takes a decade for new technologies to be implemented, so the time is now.”

The Web3 Ventures team is made up of lawyers, accountants, investor relations talent and broker-dealer experts, nearly all of whom have a capital markets background. 

“My co-founder, Jason Hobson, is a securities lawyer,” Nikzad says. “I think that’s really useful in terms of reaching critical mass — getting people like that involved.”

“We’re not some kid that, you know, left Harvard and decided to use customer funds to pay for some condo,” he quips.

For the skeptics, Nikzad points to his track record. 

“In one year, we built a company that, fully diluted, has a $100 million market cap. We look at all the investments we’ve made today, and our failure rate is very low,” he says.

“We put our own money on this; we didn’t go and beg for funding. Obviously, it’s always nice to get funding but almost a little antithetical to the whole Bitcoin decentralized finance kind of ethos. We practice what we preach.”

Nikzad in many ways embodies the DeFi ethos. 

Take generative AI, which Nikzad believes has the potential to change the way consumers interact with nearly every industry on the planet, particularly in an age of declining social trust. 

“People don’t trust anybody. They don’t want to go to the doctor. Instead, they want to go to a website,” he notes. “I call it WebMD 3.0”

Nikzad, for his part, says he hasn’t been to a doctor in three decades. Why would he, he says, if there are large language models and data sets that can deliver information that’s just as good. 

“[The skeptics represent] the old guard,” he exclaims.

Looking ahead, Nikzad believes tokenization, crypto and blockchain will follow the same path that social media companies took over the past decade and a half to become mainstream. 

“My grandmother uses Facebook. That didn’t happen in the first year of Facebook, it took multiple years,” says Nikzad. “Today, my father, my grandmother, people in my family that come from previous generations, they own crypto.”

It’s a changing world, and Web3 Ventures wants to offer investors a chance to participate in the space while it’s still in its early days. 

“Do you hear any hesitation in my voice?” Nikzad asks. “No. That’s what it takes. I don’t hope and pray. We just execute and we know.”

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Web3 Ventures at https://www.w3ven.com/.