Mr. Dominique Bouchard reports
ARIANNE PHOSPHATE APPOINTS MR. JEAN FONTAINE TO ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND PROVIDES CORPORATE UPDATE
Arianne Phosphate Inc. has appointed Jean Fontaine to the company's board of directors.
Mr. Fontaine is the founder and president of Jefo Nutrition Inc., a global leader in high performance, non-medicated nutritional solutions for animals. Founded in 1982, Jefo Nutrition has successfully grown its business; its products are now marketed in 80 countries. Mr. Fontaine brings with him an extremely successful and distinguished career.
"I understand what it takes to build a successful international company," commented Mr. Fontaine. "I am fully aware of the challenges that smaller companies face and believe, from what I have seen, that Arianne has the ingredients in place to become a success story. I look forward to bringing my expertise to the board and working with management to influence this success. I also believe that my strong agricultural background and international network will help this happen."
"Mr. Fontaine's appointment has come at a very significant time for Arianne," commented Dominique Bouchard, Arianne Phosphate's executive chairman. "Mr. Fontaine has a proven record of growing business through innovation, entrepreneurship and global market penetration. These skills will be a strong addition to the board and overall direction of Arianne."
In conjunction with Mr. Fontaine's appointment to the board, he has been granted 200,000 stock options. Each option entitles the holder to purchase one common share of the company until Feb. 18, 2029, at a price of 40 cents per share, this being the closing price of the company's shares on the trading day preceding the date of grant. The options are subject to a three-year vesting period under the plan and the policy. The options are also subject to regulatory approval.
The fourth quarter of 2018 was very significant for Arianne Phosphate, as the company successfully executed on significant milestones necessary to bring its Lac a Paul project into development.
During the quarter, Arianne executed two commercial offtake agreements (see press releases dated
Sept. 25, 2018,
Dec. 13, 2018), demonstrating strong commercial interest in its phosphate concentrate. These agreements provide for premium pricing, acknowledging the superior quality of Arianne's high-end, low-contaminant concentrate. These agreements are a significant step toward satisfying the financing requirements put forth by project lenders and these discussions have progressed with significant interest. Arianne is also continuing negotiations with several other parties to reach similar offtake agreements so that it may satisfy the borrowing requirements put forth by the project finance banks. In parallel, Arianne is also engaged in discussions focusing on bringing in strategic partners and 2018 has seen an increase in both interest and activity on this front.
In October, 2018, the Port of Saguenay received approval for the construction of a maritime terminal on the north shore of the Saguenay River (see press release dated
Oct. 23, 2018). From this terminal, ships will be loaded with Arianne's phosphate concentrate for delivery to international markets. This, associated with Arianne's receipt of its ministerial decree (permit) for the mine and a collaboration agreement with the Innu First Nations, has addressed major environmental and social acceptability requirements that pave the way forward for the development of the company's Lac a Paul project.
The year also saw Arianne reach an agreement with the Province of New Brunswick to explore the possibility of a phosphoric acid facility (see press release dated
Aug. 9, 2018) that would use the company's phosphate concentrate to produce downstream products. With grants in place, Arianne can move forward on a preliminary feasibility study surrounding the opportunity and make commercial decisions based on the report. If favourable, this opportunity could represent a substantial end-use of the company's product and allow for Arianne to become vertically integrated.
Lastly, the appointment of Mr. Fontaine to the company's board continues the trend of upgrading Arianne's board and management. Mr. Fontaine's appointment follows the appointment of Claude Lafleur to the company's board (see press release dated
Aug. 30, 2018) and the addition of Andrew Malashewsky as Arianne's new chief financial officer (see press release dated
Jan. 24, 2019). These additions continue to enhance the skills necessary for Arianne to proceed to construction.
"I am doubtful that most investors have closely followed Arianne's progress or are fully aware of what the company has accomplished," commented Brian Ostroff, chief executive officer of Arianne Phosphate. "As we know, early-stage mineral exploration is a very risky proposition and most companies outright fail to find economically viable deposits. Beyond this, even if a viable deposit is found, a project still requires favourable economics, including demand for the underlying commodity, access to infrastructure or the possibility of building it economically, a supportive population and, of course, all the necessary regulatory and permitting approvals. Over the years, Arianne has done just that, taking it's Lac a Paul project successfully through all these steps, derisking it along the way. Today, the company sits on one of the world's most significant phosphate assets -- permitted, economically viable and shovel-ready. How many people recognize this? I am not sure. The last step for Arianne is to continue to work with potential funders and partners, and bring the asset into development, unlocking the tremendous social and economic benefit that comes with it."
Aside from Arianne's corporate developments, the macroenvironment improved through 2018. After a very difficult period (2012 to 2017) in which phosphate prices and overall fertilizer prices declined substantially, the company has seen a definite improvement. Despite lower prices for five years, demand for phosphate continued to grow annually and this continually improving demand has provided a strong foundation for the increase in prices that has been seen in 2018. For the year, phosphate prices have increased by roughly 25 per cent, as the industry now looks to secure supply going forward. Many industry analysts believe that prices should continue to increase.
Jean-Sebastien David, PGeo, a qualified person under National Instrument 43-101, has approved this release. Mr. David is also the company's chief operating officer.
About Arianne Phosphate Inc.
Arianne Phosphate is developing the Lac a Paul phosphate deposits located approximately 200 kilometres north of the Saguenay/Lac St. Jean area of Quebec, Canada. These deposits will produce a high-quality igneous apatite concentrate grading 39 per cent P2O5 (phosphorus pentoxide) with little or no contaminants (feasibility study released in 2013).
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