Developing Potash Deposits in Thailand’s Khorat Basin
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Vatic Ventures Corp. (TSXV:VCV) is a potash exploration company exploring and developing its Saksrithai project in Thailand’s Khorat basin. In early 2017, Vatic Ventures acquired an 80 percent interest in Saksrithai Developments Co. Ltd., which holds 100% interest in the two prospecting licenses that make up the 32-square-kilometer Saksrithai project. Saksrithai Developments Co. Ltd. remains a local partner for the company, providing local relationships and insight.
Since the acquisition of the bulk of the project, Vatic has conducted an initial exploration program, which included seismic and geological surveys, community engagement and base environmental studies. Results from the seismic survey have shown that the project sits on trend with the Dan Khun Thot project, currently under construction.
Used as a one of three key fertilizers for rice, wheat and palm oil crops, potash is an essential plant nutrient that supports agriculture industries across the globe. It can be produced from a variety of potassium-bearing ores through numerous methods including traditional underground mining, evaporation from brines or solution mining.
The major contributors to an annual global production of 60 million tonnes of potassium chloride are Canada, Russia, Belarus and Germany, which collectively account for 80 percent of that total. South East Asia, however, is increasingly contributing to the global supply of potash, with an expected annual growth rate of 5 percent over the next decade.
Within Asia—the most significant region for potash imports—the largest commercially viable potash deposits have been uncovered in Thailand, particularly in its prolific Khorat basin, where Vatic is developing its Saksrithai project. In 2014, Thailand’s Ministry of Industry established a special steering committee dedicated to the development of the country’s potash resources. As a result of this program, there are a number of projects under development. This includes the ASEAN Potash Chaiyaphum Plc. Bamnet Narong project, and the Dan Khun Thot and Udon Thani projects operated by Thai Kali Co. and Italian-Thai Development Plc., respectively.
Vatic Ventures’ management team and board of directors are made up of over 150 years of collective experience in mineral exploration, capital markets and corporate governance. Together, they are working on leading the company through the development of a potash resource to address the growing demand for the nutrient across the world.
- Near-surface potash deposits in Thailand’s Khorat basin offer more cost savings than other deposits around the world that sit further at depth
- Saksrithai project on trend with Don Khun Thot project expected to produce 0.5 million tonnes per year at 21.5 percent potassium chloride
- Diamond-drill program to begin in May 2018
- Acquisition of 80 percent of Saksrithai Developments Co. Ltd. has helped foster local relationships
- Management team brings over 50 years of collective experience
Flagship Project: Saksrithai
Vatic Ventures’ Saksrithai project is situated within the Khorat evaporite basin, 270 kilometers away from Bangkok. The project is made up of two exploration licenses, which were granted to Saksrithai Development Co. Ltd. in 2015, and covers 32 square kilometers. In early 2017, Vatic acquired an 80 percent interest in the project, and has since been operating ongoing exploration work.
The Khorat Plateau is located in the northeastern region of Thailand, and extends into Laos. Beneath the plateau sits the Khorat evaporite basin, which has been estimated as having multiple billions of tonnes of high-grade sylvinite and carnallite minerals, commonly-known hosts of potash.
Potash deposits within the Khorat basin have been uncovered relatively near surface, at between 150 meters and 350 meters in depth. This differs significantly from deposits found in Canada and Russia, which usually sit at around 1.5 kilometers at depth. This makes the Khorat basin deposits more cost effective in term of exploration, operational and capital expenditure.
Projects that are currently under development in the Khorat basin include ASEAN Potash Chaiyaphum’s Bamnet Narong project, which will see an estimated annual production of 1.1 million tonnes per annum with a grade of 18 percent potassium chloride, and Italian-Thai Development’s Udon Thani project, with an anticipated 2.0 million tonnes per annum at 40 percent potassium chloride. Thai Kali Co.’s Dan Khun Thot project is also nearing production, with a production plan of 0.5 million tonnes per year at 21.5 percent potassium chloride. Other exploration projects are being conducted by Rong Pang Mining, Sahachart Setthakit and the International Petroleum Group.
Exploration at Saksrithai
In March 2017, the company launched its initial resource evaluation phase, which consisted of a seismic survey, geological survey and interpretation, baseline environmental studies and local community programs. Results from the seismic survey demonstrated that Saksrithai sits on a continuation of the mineralization trend within the Dan Khun Thot potash project. Evaluating these results, the company was able to establish a target area for subsequent drilling.
An initial 10-hole diamond-drilling program is expected to commence in May 2018. The program will kick off with three holes, covering 350 meters each. Once initial assays from these holes have been analyzed, the company will complete the remaining seven holes. Additional work on the project will also include further seismic programs, an environmental impact assessment, as well as mining, processing, transportation and marketing studies. These will all funnel into a bankable feasibility study and reserve.
Gerald Wright—CEO and Director
Dr. Gerald Wright is a Professional Engineer (Province of BC) and holds a Doctorate in Engineering from Queen’s University, Belfast. He was co-founder of the Crew Group of Companies and has over 30 years’ experience in the minerals exploration and development industry in Asia, North America, Europe and Africa, serving as a Senior Officer and Director of a number of public and private companies. He has extensive experience and knowledge of the global potash industry and, in particular, the potash resources underlying Thailand’s Khorat Plateau. He served as Chief Executive Officer of Asia Pacific Resources Ltd. for 12 years, in which capacity he was directly responsible for the acquisition, financing and development of that company’s Udon Thani project which is Asia’s most significant commercial potash discovery to date. He has been Chief Executive Officer of Vatic since 2017.
Thomas Wilson, CPA, CA—CFO and Director
Thomas Wilson has over 35 years of corporate experience in all areas of financial management and administration including corporate governance, government and securities compliance and financial administration, for both public and private companies. Within the mining sector, he has been CFO for the following companies: Quadro Resources Ltd., ICN Resources Ltd., Paragon Minerals Corporation. Previously, he was the VP/Treasurer of Cellfor Inc.; the CFO for Quest University; Corporate Controller for MDSI; and Senior Manager at MacMillan Bloedel Limited. He has been a CPA-CA for 40 years and a member Board of Directors for various not for profits. He has been Chief Financial Officer of Vatic since 2011.
Gordon Fretwell, BComm, LLB—Corporate Secretary
Gordon Fretwell holds a BComm degree and graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1979 with his Bachelor of Law degree. Formerly a partner in a large Vancouver law firm, he has, since 1991, been a self-employed solicitor (Gordon J. Fretwell Law Corporation) in Vancouver, practicing primarily in the areas of corporate and securities law. He currently serves on the board of several public companies engaged in mineral exploration including: Asanko Gold Inc., Auryn Resources Corp., Canada Rare Earth Corp. and Coro Mining Corp.
Nasim Tyab is an entrepreneur and financier with over 20 years experience in the international capital markets. He was the co-founder and a director of Mohave Exploration & Production Inc. from 2006 to 2010, an oil & gas company which amalgamated with Porto Energy Corp raising $100 million. He is the co-founder of Oracle Energy Corp. and has been a director since 2000. He served as a consultant to Asia Pacific Resources and, as a member of the corporate development team for the Udon Thani project, he is familiar with the regional potash industry. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University in 1995. He has been a director of Vatic since 2011.
Anthony Clements—Non-Executive Director
Anthony Clements is a former investment banker with Fox Davies Capital Limited, a London-based firm specializing in financing both mining and oil and gas corporations. He began his career focused on natural resources, having gained a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of London followed by a post-graduate course in accountancy. In 1970, he joined the Electricity Council Pension Fund as Senior Investment Analyst and in 1973 moved to the Post Office Pension Fund (Postel Investment Management), later named Hermes Investment Management, where he managed the company’s resource portfolio including the multi-billion dollar North American portfolio. In 1987 he moved to the sales side of the investment industry, specifically in corporate finance with particular emphasis on Australian and North American resource issuers, working with several firms, including T. Hoare and Co. and Yorkton Securities Inc. – a leading Canadian Investment Bank specializing in resource issues. From 2001 until 2010, he was Head of Corporate Finance at ODL Securities. He has acted as an advisor to numerous natural resource companies and has served as a director of several resource companies. He is a director of Aton Resources Inc. He has been a director of Vatic since 2017.
Barry Coughlan—Non-Executive Director
Barry Coughlan is a Vancouver based businessman and financier who for over 30 years has been involved in the financing of publicly traded companies. He has been involved in the financing of over thirty private companies and their subsequent listings on North American Stock Markets. He has been employed as a Stock Broker in New York City, Toronto and Vancouver, and has extensive knowledge of both local and international financial markets. He is presently a director of five publicly traded companies and was previously a director of Taseko Mines Ltd., Great Basin Gold Ltd., Farallon Mining Ltd. and Continental Minerals Corp. He is also the CEO of Quadro Resources Ltd. He has been a director of Vatic since 2011.
Matthew Mikulic—Non-Executive Director
Matthew Mikulic was a director of Lucky Strike Resources Ltd. from December 2009 to December 2010. He has been a director of Vatic since 2011.
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