by Deborah Balshem
Alaska Energy Metals Corp. [TSXV:AEMC; OTCQB:AKEMF], a Vancouver, British Columbia-based nickel exploration company, could be positioned to uplist to a major US stock exchange in roughly 12 months, according to CEO Gregory Beischer.
The company, formerly known as Millrock Resources, currently is interviewing advisors and underwriters and will potentially seek a New York-area law firm and accounting firm as part of the process, Beischer said.
To fund continued exploratory drilling of its primary Nikolai project, AEMC plans to raise CAD 20m-CAD 25m (USD 14.8m-USD 15.2m) in March of next year, according to the CEO. Around that same time, the company anticipates publishing its maiden inferred resource report, which if the historic concentrations are confirmed, is expected to surpass one billion pounds of contained nickel, he added.
An upgraded and expanded inferred resource report is expected by March 2025, at which time AEMC will likely raise an additional CAD 40m-CAD 50m in equity financing, Beischer said. So far, the company has raised approximately CAD 9.5m for exploratory drilling, which began roughly one year ago.
AEMC’s advisor for fundraising is Jim Hartwell, CEO of Calgary-based investment dealer Emerging Equities.
The Nikolai project in central Alaska is focused on uncovering nickel, with additional accessory metal potential from copper, cobalt, chrome, iron, platinum and palladium. In roughly three years, AEMC hopes to have delineated a multi-billion-pound nickel resource, performed metallurgical bench-scale studies, fostered community support, advanced baseline environmental studies and have a positive feasibility study in hand.
At that point, the company should be an attractive sale target for a major mining, battery-making, nickel refining or car company, Beischer said.
After just one year of drilling, Alaska Energy is already on the radar of potential future investment partners or acquirers, he added, given the increasing demand but low supply levels of nickel, a critical element required for developing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Moreover, roughly 75% of the world production of nickel comes from non-free trade countries, much of it with a large carbon footprint and with output powered by coal, the CEO noted.
“There is an urgent need for nickel and most of the rich nickel deposits with high metal concentrations have already been mined,” Beischer said. As such, around a half-dozen junior explorers in North America are now targeting deposits with lower metal concentrations, including Toronto-based Canada Nickel [TSXV:CNC; OTCQX:CNIKF] and Vancouver-based Stillwater Critical Minerals [TSXV:PGE; OTCQB: PGEZF], he added.
In February, Anglo American [LSE:AAL] invested approximately USD 24m in Canada Nickel for a USD 9.9% stake and an exclusive right to purchase up to 10% of recoveries of nickel concentrate, iron and chromium contained in the company’s Crawford Nickel Project.
And in June, Stillwater announced a 9.99% strategic equity investment by a wholly owned subsidiary of Glencore [LSE:GLEN] for proceeds of approximately USD 5m, with the potential for an additional USD 5.2m in funding within three years.
Despite interest in the space from major miners, Beischer said AEMC is “more interested in getting a strategic investment from a battery manufacturer or car company that wants to secure raw materials supply or from a company specializes in refining nickel, especially one with newer technologies that allow for production of nickel at the mine site.”
He noted Isle of Man-based battery metals technology company Lifezone Metals [NYSE:LZM] as an example of a logical potential buyer.
Mergermarket reported in July that automakers are increasingly interested in investing directly in mining projects or companies to bring down the cost of battery cells.
Beischer co-founded AEMC in 2007. The company changed its name and ticker from Millrock Resources this past March to represent the change in business model and new sole focus on nickel.
Earlier this month, AEMC announced its intent to purchase the Angliers-Belleterre nickel-copper project – whose assets include approximately CAD 2.8m in cash – in western Quebec. With a project in Quebec, AEMC will have greater access to inexpensive flow-through capital and be eligible for rebates on exploration expenditures. And unlike Nikolai, it also will allow AEMC to do exploratory drilling work year-round, Beischer noted.
Assuming the Angliers deal is closed, Beischer said AEMC may raise roughly CAD 700,000 in flow-through financing in November to fund exploratory work in the ensuing 12 months.
AEMC ’s corporate advisors include law firm Owen & Bird and auditors Crowe Mackay, both based in Vancouver.
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