Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Graphite One Resources In Alaska

I had to check out Graphite One Resources (GPH.V / GPHOF) to get an impression of their chances for success in extracting graphite from Alaska.  The CEO and President are not geologists, and I'm not interested in broad experience in other sectors when it comes to running a mining company.  The staff members who are geologists should be specific about whether they've made significant discoveries in their careers.  Generating data and raising project finance are only precursors to profitable production.

Their Graphite Creek project in Alaska has some data worth studying.  The 43-101 report from January 2013 demonstrates an inferred mineral resource.  I would be more interested in a report that shows 2P reserves.  Their base case of 6.2M metric tons of in-situ graphite at 5.78% Cg is nice if further exploration confirms a large portion of flake graphite.  BTW, the property has no visible road access in their photos.

That 43-101 report recommended a total exploration budget of US$10M for 2013 to get to a PEA.  I reviewed their news announcements for 2013 and I didn't see any announcement of a completed PEA.  Maybe I missed it, but that would be a rare mistake for me.  I also noted from their news items that they completed two private placement rounds in 2013.  They did not raise enough to complete the recommended budget.  I could not find their most recent financial statements on either their corporate website or in an EDGAR search.  That means I have to eyeball what's displayed in Yahoo Finance, which shows they had $14K in cash on hand as of June 30, 2013.  Well, that's a bummer.  Add that to the amounts they raised in private placements and they're still short of what they need.  Their stock has traded under $0.20/share in recent weeks and they'll have to raise millions of dollars more just to achieve their PEA milestone, so current investors can expect further dilution at best.

I've learned one very important anecdote from my conversations with other mining sector leaders who study graphite.  The world graphite market's demand can easily be satisfied with the addition of one more large mine, according to conventional wisdom.  Anything more would lead to overcapacity.  That means only one upstart graphite producer has a chance to make it and IMHO it will be the one that is first to start production.  I am less interested in the size and quality of a graphite project than its readiness for production given the market's characteristics.  Graphite One Resources is not close enough to production for me to consider including it in my own portfolio.

Full disclosure:  No position in Graphite One Resources at this time.