Joe Biden ran for president on a promise to “build back better,” a mantra that underscored his proposal to commit $2 trillion for an energy and infrastructure plan to modernize the country. With the Biden administration less than two weeks away from taking power, investors are positioning for market segments that have upside based upon this promise. Resources should see a boost in the coming year, including less popularized commodities like boron, a key element in countless products from insulation to smartphones to renewable energy.
On news of a $1.5 billion deal between Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) and South Korean industrial juggernaut SK Group, hydrogen fuel is back in the spotlight in 2021. The idea of a hydrogen economy sent fuel cell and hydrogen-related stocks soaring combined with expectations of a post-COVID-19 pandemic infrastructure boom gave a lift to Erin Ventures (TSX-Venture:EV) (OTCQB:ERVFF), a Victoria, British Columbia-based company focused on development of its Piskanja high-grade boron project in Serbia.
Boron is quietly important to the hydrogen energy space for increasing efficiency and for its use in borohydride fuel cells, which have the potential to significantly advance the electrification of the transportation sector.
Trading at just 3.5 Canadian cents per share at the start of December, shares of EV have charged to a new 52-week high at CDN$0.17 last Thursday. Even with the recent jump in value, the company still commands a market capitalization of under $20 million.
Erin hopes to become a prime source of boron in the future, collecting a share of the $4.9 billion market of which 80% is owned by either Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) or Turkey’s state-owned Eti Mine Works. The little company has some competitive advantages, including ownership of high-grade boron that can be mined relatively inexpensively compared to most places in the world.
Furthermore, Erin has an opportunity to produce colemanite, one of four borate minerals that account for 90% of all borate minerals used worldwide each year. Colemanite is extremely rare and irreplaceable mineral in certain industrial applications, with Eti Mine Works essentially being the sole supplier from its Eti Mine. Erin is in the cat bird’s seat given that the colemanite found at Piskanja has an even lower arsenic content than that from Eti, which should make it very attractive with all the attention on being environmentally friendly.
The financials are compelling as spelled out in a 2014 (historic) Preliminary Economic Assessment that forecast annual revenue for a future mine at $97 million and gross revenue across a 21-year mine life at $2.04 billion (all figures in USD).
After several delays and stonewalled progress, including the nationwide lockdown of Serbia because of COVID-19 last year, Erin can begin unlocking value at Piskanja. The company has secured a partner in Temas Resources Corp. (CSE:TMAS) (OTCQB:TMASF) to jump start development, which includes Temas investing 10.5 million euro (US$12.9 million) within 36 months on development of the project, earning a 50% equity interest in Erin’s subsidiary (and holder of the Piskanja license) in the process.
In the process of the joint venture, Erin will become a substantial shareholder in Temas, a company that has catapulted in value from CDN$0.25 in July to CDN$1.40 recently. The deal, which covers terms for warrant purchases of TMAS by Erin at CDN$1.00 per share, is expected to be completed early in the second quarter.
Shares of EV have pulled back slightly from the recent high, but still are generating quite a bit of interest from investors with the stock closing on Tuesday at $0.13, signaling they may be ready for another run to print a new one-year high.
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