Despite the weakened demand and the subsequent price decline in 2023, demand for lithium is still on track to significantly outstrip supply by 2030. Many nations continue to ramp up initiatives to augment their domestic supplies of lithium and other critical minerals.
The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, for instance, establishes a comprehensive framework for the development of sustainable, responsibly sourced domestic materials. Beyond that, its goals include supporting economic growth, promoting climate action, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and communities, fostering workplace inclusivity and enhancing global partnerships. The US Inflation Reduction Act has a similar objective, with provisions such as sustainability tax credits and reduced renewable energy costs.
Through its highly prospective Apollo lithium project in James Bay, Québec, Lithium Universe (ASX:LU7) is well-positioned to leverage the expected demand for lithium over the next decade. Québec is rapidly emerging as a major destination for lithium production, setting the stage for Lithium Universe to potentially become a significant producer not just for the North American market, but globally.
A vertically integrated exploration and development company, Lithium Universe is led by the renowned lithium development veteran Iggy Tan. Widely regarded as a trailblazer in Australia’s lithium industry, Tan spearheaded Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), establishing it as one of the country’s leading lithium mining companies. Working with a highly experienced team, Tan now aims to replicate that success with Lithium Universe.
Tan is joined by a number of esteemed mining professionals, including leading technical expert Dr. Jingyuan Liu. Liu was responsible for overseeing the construction and commissioning of Galaxy Resources’ Mt Cattlin Spodumene project along with the world-renowned Jiangsu Lithium Carbonate Plant.
The team also includes: Patrick Scallan, a seasoned veteran with 25 years of management experience at the largest lithium hard rock mine in the world; Alex Hanly, who brings more than a decade of experience in capital delivery and operational management for mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing; Huy Nguyen, who helped design and construct Mt Cattlin’s Spodumene plant; and Roger Pover, former plant manager at Mt Cattlin.
Lithium Universe’s strategy for Apollo is simple: quickly identify a resource and establish a producing mine to facilitate the company’s vertically integrated mine-to-refinery vision. The company is also pursuing the establishment of a lithium processing hub in the region to support operations at Apollo.
An engineering study on the company’s Québec Lithium Processing Hub (QLPH) multi-purpose battery-grade lithium carbonate refinery is underway. Hatch, the company conducting the study, has finalized the design flowsheet and draft site layout for the refinery. The QLPH is rated at 16,000 tons per annum (tpa) with an assumed feed grade of spodumene at or around 5.5 percent lithium oxide. The final lithium carbonate product should be at least 99.5 percent and 99.9 percent grade. Target plant availability is 84 percent and target overall recovery rate for lithium is 85 percent.
Lithium Universe is a vertically integrated company with a highly prospective lithium resource in Québec’s James Bay region.The company is led by lithium exploration and development veteran Iggy Tan, who seeks to replicate his successes at Galaxy Resources with Lithium Universe.Other significant names in the mining industry are also part of the management team, representing multiple decades of combined experience in mining exploration, development, production and operations.Lithium Universe’s flagship project, Apollo, is highly prospective and well-suited for the company’s integrated mine-to-refinery strategy.
Apollo Lithium Project
Spanning over 240 square kilometres, the highly prospective Apollo lithium project comprises 466 claims and is associated with a significant geological dataset. Located in the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James Municipality in northwest Québec, the property is in the same greenstone belt as Patriot Battery Metals’ (ASX:PMT,TSXV:PMET,OTCQX:PMETF) Corvette lithium project, which has a maiden resource of 109.2 million tons at 1.42 percent lithium oxide. Apollo’s tenement package encompasses 17 known pegmatite outcrops.
Project Geology: Apollo displays mineralisation typical of greenstone belts in the La Grande sub-province, with spodumene pegmatites hosted by mafic metavolcanic rocks and pegmatitic granite Vieux Comptoir. Property geology consists primarily of Mesoarchean and Neoarchean intrusions.
The company has completed its 2023 summer/fall exploration work programme at the Apollo and received all the final soil laboratory analyses. A drilling strategy is in place for 2024, along a major east-west trending fault shear corridor feature that extends from the Apollo project to Winsome Resources’ Adina Lithium project to the east. Some potential targets have been generated that may be incorporated into a future maiden drilling programme.
Iggy Tan — Non-executive Chair
Iggy Tan, a trailblazer of the modern lithium industry, was one of the first Australian mining executives to identify the significant opportunity within the emerging lithium-ion battery sector when he spearheaded Galaxy Resources Limited. Tan is looking to replicate that success with Lithium Universe, having built Galaxy’s Mt Cattlin Spodumene Project and the downstream Jiangsu Lithium Carbonate project. He also acquired the James Bay Spodumene Project in Canada and the Sal de Vida Brine Project in Argentina for Galaxy.
When Tan started at Galaxy, the company’s market capitalization was less than AU$10 million. It rose to AU$2.5 billion when the company merged with Orocobre Limited in August 2021. Tan’s previous experience working with lithium dates back to the early 1990s when he briefly managed the Greenbushes Lithium Mine and commissioned the first lithium carbonate plant for Gwalia Consolidated.
Tan has over 30 years of chemical and mining experience and has served as executive director for a number of ASX-listed companies. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Cross, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Australia and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is currently CEO and managing director of Altech Batteries Limited.
Alex Hanly — Chief Executive Officer
Alex Hanly has over 10 years of experience in capital delivery and operational management for publicly listed companies within the mining, oil & gas, and manufacturing industries in Australia and Africa. Over the last three years, Hanly held the role of chief executive officer of ASX-listed gold company Polymetals Resources (ASX:POL). He was responsible for the successful IPO of the company, the operational management and the efficient execution of the fast-track exploration strategy.
Hanly has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Master of Business Administration specialising in global project management.
Patrick Scallan — Non-executive Director
Patrick Scallan’s extensive experience in the lithium industry is a valuable addition to the LGX board. With over 25 years of management experience at the world-class Greenbushes Mine, he is a seasoned veteran. Greenbushes is the largest lithium hard rock mine globally and also hosts the highest-grade ore body in the world. This makes Greenbushes a unique anomaly, as no other lithium deposit worldwide compares to it.
Scallan oversaw the mine’s many expansions, increasing annual output from 200,000 in 1997 to 1.4 million tpa today, and navigated numerous ownership changes during his tenure. He is a specialist in hard rock mining and spodumene concentrating, with downstream relationships with major spodumene converters worldwide.
Scallan is also highly skilled in managing local community relationships, having acted as shire councillor for nearly 20 years during his time at Greenbushes, receiving his Order of Australia Medal for his community and local government contribution. His previous roles include management positions at Capel and Eneabba Mineral Sands in Western Australia and Western Deep Levels Gold Mine in South Africa.
Dr. Jingyuan Liu — Non-executive director
Dr Jingyuan Liu is widely regarded as a leading technical expert in the lithium industry. He previously held the position of general manager of development and technologies at Galaxy Resources, where he was responsible for overseeing the construction and commissioning of the Mt Cattlin Spodumene Project and the world-renowned Jiangsu Lithium Carbonate plant. Liu also played a key role in designing the flow sheet for the Sal de Vida brine project.
Following his work with Galaxy, he has acted as a special adviser to various lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide projects globally, including the Lithium Hydroxide Plant operated by Tianqi in Kwinana, Western Australia.
Liu has over 30 years’ experience in project management, process and equipment design for minerals processing and the chemicals, non-ferrous metals, iron & steel and energy industries, both in Australian and internationally. He was awarded a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Newcastle, Australia and has worked in senior chemical engineering roles with leading companies such as Hatch Engineering and Metso Minerals in Australia and Malaysia.
He is currently chief technology officer for Altech Batteries (ASX:ATC), developing high capacity silicon anode lithium-ion batteries.
Gernot Abl — Executive Director
Gernot Abl was previously a strategic managing director with vast experience in business management, operations and investment for some of the fastest growing industries in the world. After gaining over 15 years of corporate experience, he led the only pure esports play listed on the ASX, Esports Mogul Limited. Abl has a proven background in business management and commercial intuition, initially from working as a management consultant for both Deloitte Consulting and Deloitte Corporate Finance in Perth and Melbourne.
Abl also led the restructure and turnaround of a financially distressed ASX-listed media company and currently holds directorships for a range of start-up companies, offering corporate advisory, project management and commercial negotiation advice to multiple businesses. He has a degree in law and commerce with honours in finance and accounting from the University of Western Australia.
Fadi Diab — Non-executive Director
Fadi Diab was the former head of global payroll at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. There, he managed the global payroll team, which is responsible for 55,000 employees across 15 countries. Diab is an accomplished senior executive recognised for leveraging strong team leadership and development to drive forward progress.
He has a background in human resources, having held the role of executive human resource manager at the Commonwealth Bank, and currently runs an investor relations company.
Diab has a Bachelor of Business, Human Resource Management, and Industrial Relations from the University of Western Sydney and a Master of Business Management from University of Technology Sydney.
John Sobolewski – Chief Financial Officer
John Sobolewski’s experience in the lithium industry offers another valuable addition to the LU7 dream team. At Galaxy Resources, he played a pivotal role during the feasibility, funding, construction and operation phases of the Mt Cattlin Spodumene mine and Jiangsu Lithium Carbonate refinery. He was also crucial in establishing teams and systems in Australia and internationally. His experience in financial modelling and debt modelling for both projects will be critical in Lithium Universe, completing definitive feasibility studies of the Québec Lithium Processing Hub concentrator and lithium carbonate refinery projects.
Sobolewski is a chartered accountant and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His previous roles include managing director and CEO with Mintrex, CFO and company secretary with Mintrex, Galaxy Resources Limited and Vital Metals Limited, financial controller and company secretary with Croesus Mining NL, and group accountant and company secretary with Titan Resources NL.
Vincent John Fayad — Joint Company Secretary
Vincent John Fayad is a chartered accountant with over 40 years of experience in corporate finance, international M&A, accounting and advisory-related services primarily undertaken by mid-tier accounting firm PKF. In 2016, he established his own firm, Vince Fayad & Associates, to provide accounting and advisory services within Australia and overseas.
Over the last 25 years, Fayad has spent a significant amount of time advising on various transactions, predominantly related to the mining and exploration industries and providing accounting and corporate secretarial experience to mining exploration companies.
Fayad is currently an executive director and joint company secretary of Astute Metals NL (ASX:ASE) and joint company secretary of Greenvale Energy (ASX:GRV). He is also a non-executive director of Nexon Asia Pacific, a telecommunications company, controlled by private equity group EQT.
Kurt Laney — Joint Company Secretary
Kurt Laney is an experienced chartered accountant specialising in the provision of advisory, consultancy, taxation and corporate secretarial services. Laney is currently an associate director of Vince Fayad and Associates, where he provides accounting and taxation services to high-net-worth individuals, family offices, large family-owned businesses and multinational entities.
Laney is also the joint company secretary and CFO of Greenvale Energy Ltd (ASX:GRV) and Astute Metals NL (ASX:ASE), along with several unlisted public companies primarily focused on the tech and mining industries. He has previously served as the company secretary of Polymetals Resources (ASX:POL).
Justin Rivers — Head of Geology
Justin Rivers possesses more than 20 years of senior executive, technical and commercial experience in Africa, Australia, Asia, Arctic, Middle East, North America and South America in the major and junior space, with a particular focus on Iron Ore and Gold. He has a well-tenured strategic and tactical approach to the mining industry with intimate commercial, business development and M&A experience in Tier-1, publicly listed and private equity environments.
Prior to joining Lithium Universe Limited, Rivers held the position of executive director and CEO of Mauritian domiciled private equity company Convertible Resources, driving strategic development of its gold projects in the Siguiri region of northeast Guinea. He has a Bachelor of Science (first class honours) majoring in geology and environmental science from the University of Tasmania.
Terry Stark — Head of Mining
Terry Stark was previously managing director – resources division for Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), where he was responsible for all of Galaxy’s mineral resources assets such as exploration and mine operations. Stark oversaw the Mt Cattlin construction and subsequent successful start-up. He also managed the Galaxy James Bay project and had a good relationship with the local Cree Nation.
A veteran mining engineer, Stark holds a Bachelor of Applied Science specialising in mining engineering.
John Loxton – Head of Lithium Carbonate Refinery
John Loxton’s lithium experience commenced in 2010 with work on the Jiangsu Lithium Carbonate Plant EPCM for Galaxy Resources in China where his responsibilities initially were at a Sponsor level, and further into the project. He was the project manager for the final stages of construction and commissioning. In 2019, Loxton was engaged by Tianqi Lithium as head of projects for the execution of their investment in a lithium hydroxide processing plant in Kwinana, Western Australia. He managed the commissioning of the first train achieving the first product in 2021 and undertook execution planning and establishing a project team for an identical second train in 2022. Loxton is a project manager with over 45 years of experience across a diverse range of energy, industrial, process, civil, and major infrastructure projects.
Roger Pover — Head of Processing
Roger Pover was previously the Mt Cattlin plant manager for Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY). He was part of the commissioning and start up team and operated the plant for many years. Pover also directed all optimisation modifications made at Mt Cattlin.
Pover is a veteran in the lithium industry, having commenced his career at Greenbushes Lithium mine in the early 90s. He has a 45-year career in the mining and chemical processing industries involving mineral sands, alumina refining, lithium, iron ore, tantalum minerals and tin production.
Huy Nguyen — Engineering Manager
Huy Nguyen has been seconded from Mintrex to act as Lithium Universe Limited’s engineering client representative. Mintrex was the lead engineering company that designed and constructed (together with DRA Global) the Mt Cattlin Spodumene Plant.
Nguyen was part of the construction supervision when Mt Cattlin was built, so he is experienced with not only the design but also the construction process that delivered a project on time and on budget.
Nguyen has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Curtin University, Master of Business Administration and a member of Engineer Australia.
Victoria Vargas – Director, Lithium Universe Holdings (Canada)
Victoria Vargas brings to Lithium Universe (Holdings) more than 25 years of experience in the North American capital markets, with a significant focus on the Canadian mineral sector. She began her career at Kinross Gold Corporation and joined Alamos Gold in 2004. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in enhancing investor exposure and facilitating the company’s transition from the TSX Venture to the TSX. Before joining Alamos Gold, Vargas worked for H2O Innovation, a Québec-based company focused on providing best-in-class technologies and services for the water and wastewater treatment industry.