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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 13, 2020
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC 20549
FORM 20-F

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020
OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
For the transition period from      to     
Commission File No. 001-38427
PIEDMONT LITHIUM LIMITED
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
N/A
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
AUSTRALIA
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
Level 9, 28 The Esplanade
Perth, WA, 6000 Australia
(Address of principal executive offices)
Keith D. Phillips
President and Chief Executive Officer
+61 8 9322 6322 (telephone)
+61 8 9322 6558 (facsimile)
Level 9, 28 The Esplanade
Perth, WA, 6000 Australia
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbol(s)
Name of each exchange on which registered or to be registered
American Depository Shares each representing
100 Ordinary Shares, no par value(1)
PLL
The Nasdaq Capital Market
(1)
Evidenced by American Depositary Receipts
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of June 30, 2020: 1,035,320,206 ordinary shares.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes ☐ No ☒
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Yes ☐ No ☒
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes ☒ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Yes ☒ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Accelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer ☒
Emerging growth company ☒
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☒
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board ☒
Other
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
Item 17 ☐ Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.
Yes ☐ No

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INTRODUCTION
Piedmont Lithium Limited is the 100% owner of the Piedmont Lithium Project (the “Project”), located within the Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt (“TSB”) and along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines. The TSB is located approximately 25 miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina and has been described as one of the largest lithium regions in the world and historically provided most of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and the 1980s.
We recently reported the results of a pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) for our proposed lithium hydroxide chemical plant (“Chemical Plant”) in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, together with the results of an updated scoping study (“Scoping Study”) for our proposed integrated mine-to-hydroxide project (“Integrated Project”) comprising our proposed mine and concentrator (“Mine/Concentrator”) that will produce spodumene concentrate to be transported to our proposed Chemical Plant, and converted into battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
The PFS and Scoping Study confirm the potential for Piedmont to be a strategic and low-cost producer of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Our proposed Chemical Plant would create an alternative to the numerous merchant spodumene converters currently operating in China and dominating the world lithium hydroxide market, thus providing U.S. and non-U.S. automotive companies a secure and independent American source of the lithium hydroxide required for their supply chains.

Piedmont Lithium Location in the Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt
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We are currently undertaking exploration and appraisal activities, comprising drilling campaigns and technical studies to assess the economic potential of the Project and our potential to become a low-cost producer of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Following the completion of all technical studies and all necessary permitting activities, Piedmont has plans to undertake mining and lithium processing activities to produce a highly strategic, U.S. domestic source of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to supply the growing electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
At June 30, 2020, the Project comprised approximately 2,126 acres of surface property and associated mineral rights in North Carolina, United States, of which approximately 391 acres are owned, approximately 79 acres are subject to lease-to-own agreements, and approximately 1,656 acres are subject to exclusive option agreements. These exclusive option agreements, upon exercise, allow us to purchase or, in some cases, enter into long-term leases for the surface property and associated mineral rights.
We also own a 61-acre property in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, which will be the site of our proposed Chemical Plant. The site is located approximately 20 miles from our proposed Mine/Concentrator in Gaston County, North Carolina.
Our head office is located at 32N Main Street Suite 100, Belmont, NC 28012, United States. The telephone number of our head office is +1 (704) 461-8000. Our registered office is located at Level 9, 28 The Esplanade, Perth, Western Australia 6000. The telephone number of our registered office is +61 (8) 9322-6322.
Our ordinary shares are publicly traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (“ASX”) under the symbol “PLL.” Our American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”) each representing 100 of our ordinary shares, are publicly traded on the Nasdaq Capital Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “PLL.” The Bank of New York Mellon, acting as depositary, registers and delivers the ADSs.
We also maintain a website at www.piedmontlithium.com. The information contained on our website or available through our website is not incorporated by reference into and should not be considered a part of this annual report on Form 20-F, and the reference to our website in this annual report on Form 20-F is an inactive textual reference only.
ABOUT THIS ANNUAL REPORT
Unless otherwise indicated or the context implies otherwise, any reference in this annual report on Form 20-F to:
“Piedmont” refers to Piedmont Lithium Limited, unless otherwise indicated;
“the Company,” “we,” “us,” or “our” refers to Piedmont and its consolidated subsidiaries, through which it conducts its business, unless otherwise indicated;
“shares” or “ordinary shares” refer to our ordinary shares;
“ADS” refers to our American depositary shares; and
“ASX” refers to the Australian Securities Exchange.
Unless otherwise indicated, all references to “$” or “US$” are to United States dollars, and all references to “A$” are to Australian dollars. Our presentation currency is United States dollars. This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.” This annual report on Form 20-F also includes statistical data, market data and other industry data and forecasts, which we obtained from market research, publicly available information and independent industry publications and reports that we believe to be reliable sources.
CAUTIONARY NOTE TO UNITED STATES INVESTORS
As a public company in Australia, we report estimates of “measured,” “indicated” and “inferred” mineral resources, which are terms that are recognized and required by the Joint Ore Reserves Committee of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Australian Institute of Geoscientists and Minerals Council of Australia (“JORC”) and also the ASX. These definitions differ from the definitions in Industry Guide 7 (“Guide 7”) under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”).
In particular, Guide 7 applies different standards in order to classify mineralization as a reserve. Under Guide 7, mineralization may not be classified as a “reserve” unless the determination has been made that the
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mineralization could be economically and legally produced or extracted at the time the reserve determination is made. Under Guide 7 standards, a “final” or “bankable” feasibility study is required to report reserves, the three-year historical average price is used in any reserve or cash flow analysis to designate reserves and the primary environmental analysis or report must be filed with the appropriate governmental authority.
Consequently, the terms “measured,” “indicated” and “inferred” mineral resources are not permitted to be used in reports and registration statements filed with the SEC. Investors are cautioned that public disclosure by us of such mineral resources in Australia in accordance with ASX listing rules (“ASX Listing Rules”) does not form a part of this annual report on Form 20-F.
Accordingly, information contained in this annual report on Form 20-F may contain descriptions of the mineralization of our projects that may not be comparable to similar information made public by U.S. companies subject to the reporting and disclosure requirements under the United States federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder, in particular Guide 7. As such, under Guide 7 we are an exploration stage company as we don’t currently have any proven and probable reserves under Guide 7 standards.
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain information included or incorporated by reference in this annual report on Form 20-F may be deemed to be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking statements concern our anticipated results and progress of our operations in future periods, planned exploration and, if warranted, development of our properties, plans related to our business and other matters that may occur in the future. These statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable and assumptions of management. All statements contained herein that are not clearly historical in nature are forward-looking, and the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “expect,” “estimate,” “may,” “will,” “could,” “leading,” “intend,” “contemplate,” “shall” and similar expressions are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause actual events or results to differ from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this annual report on Form 20-F include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to:
risks related to our operations being further disrupted, and our financial results being adversely affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic;
risks related to our limited operating history in the lithium industry;
risks related to our status as an exploration stage company;
risks related to our ability to identify lithium mineralization and achieve commercial lithium mining at the Project;
risks related to mining, exploration and mine construction, if warranted, on our properties;
risks related to our ability to achieve and maintain profitability and to develop positive cash flow from our mining activities;
risks related to investment risk and operational costs associated with our exploration activities;
risks related to our ability to access capital and the financial markets;
risks related to compliance with government regulations;
risks related to our ability to acquire necessary mining licenses, permits or access rights;
risks related to environmental liabilities and reclamation costs;
risks related to volatility in lithium prices or demand for lithium;
risks related to our stock price and trading volume volatility;
risks relating to the development of an active trading market for our ADSs;
risks related to ADS holders not having certain shareholder rights;
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risks related to ADS holders not receiving certain distributions; and
risks related to our status as a foreign private issuer and emerging growth company.
All forward-looking statements reflect our beliefs and assumptions based on information available at the time the assumption was made. These forward-looking statements are not based on historical facts but rather on management’s expectations regarding future activities, results of operations, performance, future capital and other expenditures (including the amount, nature and sources of funding thereof), competitive advantages, business prospects and opportunities. By its nature, forward-looking information involves numerous assumptions, inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, known and unknown, that contribute to the possibility that the predictions, forecasts, projections or other forward-looking statements will not occur. Although we have attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. Except as otherwise required by the securities laws of the United States and Australia, we disclaim any obligation to subsequently revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events. We qualify all the forward-looking statements contained in this annual report on Form 20-F by the foregoing cautionary statements.
PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Unless otherwise indicated, the consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this annual report on Form 20-F have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) and interpretations issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, (the “IASB”) which differ in certain significant respects from Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States (“U.S. GAAP”) and thus may not be comparable to financial statements of United States companies. Because the SEC has adopted rules to accept financial statements prepared in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB without reconciliation to U.S. GAAP for foreign private issuers such as us, we will not be providing a description of the principal differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS.
Our fiscal year ends on June 30. We designate our fiscal year by the year in which that fiscal year ends; e.g. fiscal 2020 refers to our fiscal year ended June 30, 2020.
COMPETENT PERSONS STATEMENT
As required by Australian securities laws and the ASX Listing Rules, we hereby notify Australian investors that the information in this annual report that relates to Exploration Results, Metallurgical Testwork Results, Exploration Targets, Mineral Resources, Concentrator Process Design, Concentrator Capital Costs, Concentrator Operating Costs, Mining Engineering and Mining Schedule is extracted from the Company’s ASX announcements dated July 23, 2020, May 26, 2020, June 25, 2019, April 24, 2019 and September 6, 2018 which are available to view on the Company’s website at www.piedmontlithium.com.
We confirm to Australian investors that: a) we are not aware of any new information or data that materially affects the information included in the original ASX announcement; b) all material assumptions and technical parameters underpinning Mineral Resources, Exploration Targets, Production Targets, and related forecast financial information derived from Production Targets included in the original ASX announcement continue to apply and have not materially changed; and c) the form and context in which the relevant Competent Persons’ findings are presented in this report have not been materially modified from the original ASX announcement.
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PART I.
ITEM 1
IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
Not applicable.
ITEM 2
OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
Not applicable.
ITEM 3
KEY INFORMATION
A.
Selected Financial Data
The following tables present the selected consolidated financial data of our company. The selected consolidated statements of operations data for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the selected consolidated statement of financial position data as of June 30, 2019 and 2020 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are included in this annual report beginning on page F-1. The selected consolidated statement of operations data for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2016 and 2017 and the selected consolidated statements of financial position data as of June 30, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2016, 2017 and 2018, which are not included in this annual report. During the year ended June 30, 2018, the Company elected to change its presentation currency from Australian dollars to U.S. dollars. This change in presentation currency was to better reflect the Company’s business activities and to enhance comparability with its industry peer group, the majority of which report in U.S. dollars. As a result of this change, the selected consolidated statement of financial position data as of June 30, 2016 was translated from Australian dollars to U.S. dollars at the exchange rate prevailing at that date. This translation into U.S. dollars is unaudited.
The summary consolidated financial data below should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements beginning on page F-1 of this annual report on Form 20-F and with the information appearing in the section of this annual report on Form 20-F entitled “Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.” Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future period.
Summary Financial Information
(In U.S. dollars, except numbers of ordinary shares)
 
Fiscal 2016
Fiscal 2017
Fiscal 2018
Fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2020
Consolidated Operating Data
 
 
 
 
 
Exploration and evaluation expenses
$(39,903)
$(1,132,846)
$(6,021,506)
$(7,107,146)
$(3,563,437)
Corporate and administrative expenses
(281,797)
(444,388)
(1,160,608)
(1,711,475)
(1,514,519)
Business development expenses
(139,107)
(233,538)
(1,207,907)
(928,097)
(941,399)
Share based payments
72,471
(861,973)
(1,172,164)
(438,375)
(470,939)
Foreign stock exchange listing expenses
(580,922)
Finance income
39,002
33,936
132,752
128,377
215,549
Finance costs
(157,271)
Other income/(expenses)
69,701
(619)
52,538
234,090
760,917
Loss for the year
(279,633)
(2,639,428)
(9,957,817)
(9,822,626)
(5,671,099)
Loss per basic and diluted ordinary share (US$ per ordinary share)
(0.00)
(0.01)
(0.02)
(0.02)
(0.01)
Weighted average number of ordinary shares outstanding (basic and diluted)
397,808,129
409,976,775
520,222,133
621,391,730
828,356,668
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As of June 30,
 
Unaudited
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Consolidated Statement of Financial Position
 
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$1,380,358
$3,536,318
$7,238,489
$4,432,150
$18,857,088
Trade and other receivables
10,276
33,977
72,110
59,679
27,412
Exploration and evaluation assets
38,709
177,800
742,017
2,265,121
7,720,957
Property, plant and equipment
959
3,895
3,982
26,195
774,440
Other current assets
128,271
Other non-current assets
150,781
Total assets
1,430,302
3,751,990
8,056,598
6,783,145
27,658,949
Trade and other payables
(47,117)
(483,427)
(1,989,084)
(2,144,071)
(1,007,507)
Other current liabilities
(705,536)
Other non-current liabilities
(1,910,413)
Total liabilities
(47,117)
(483,427)
(1,989,084)
(2,144,071)
(3,623,456)
Contributed equity
24,908,762
28,512,793
40,483,348
48,853,707
74,877,325
Total equity
1,383,185
3,268,563
6,067,514
4,639,074
24,035,493
B.
Capitalization and Indebtedness
Not applicable.
C.
Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Not applicable.
D.
Risk Factors
You should carefully consider the risks described below, together with all of the other information in this annual report on Form 20-F. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be seriously harmed and you could lose all or part of your investment. Further, if we fail to meet the expectations of the public market in any given period, the market price of the ADSs could decline. We operate in a competitive environment that involves significant risks and uncertainties, some of which are outside of our control. If any of these risks actually occurs, our business and financial condition could suffer and the price of the ADSs could decline.
Business Risks
Our operations may be further disrupted, and our financial results may be adversely affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019 novel strain of coronavirus causing a contagious respiratory disease known as COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, poses a material risk to our business and operations. If a significant portion of our workforce or the consultants we have engaged to perform certain studies regarding our proposed operations becomes unable to work or travel to our operations due to illness or state or federal government restrictions (including travel restrictions and “shelter-in-place” and similar orders restricting certain activities that may be issued or extended by authorities), we may be forced to reduce or suspend our exploration and development activities. We continue to monitor legislative initiatives in the U.S. to provide relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19, such as the U.S. Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to determine their potential impacts or benefits (if any) to our business.
It is not possible at this time to estimate the full impact that the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued spread of COVID-19, and any additional measures taken by governments, health officials or by us in response to such spread, could have on our business, results of operations and financial condition. The COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures have also negatively impacted global economic conditions, which, in turn, could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The extent to which the COVID-19 outbreak
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continues to impact our financial condition will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including new government actions or restrictions, new information that may emerge concerning the severity, longevity and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activity.
To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business and financial results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section. As at June 30, 2020 these impacts have not had a significant effect on our financial results or operations. However, because of the highly uncertain and dynamic nature of events relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not currently possible to estimate the impact of the pandemic on our business in the future. However, these effects could have a material impact on our operations, and we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely.
Our future performance is difficult to evaluate because we have a limited operating history in the lithium industry.
Although we were incorporated in 1983, we began to implement our current business strategy in the lithium industry in 2016. We have not realized any revenues to date from the sale of lithium, and our operating cash flow needs have been financed primarily through issuances of our ordinary shares and not through cash flows derived from our operations. As a result, we have little historical financial and operating information available to help you evaluate our performance.
We are an exploration stage company, and there is no guarantee that our properties will result in the commercial extraction of mineral deposits.
We are engaged in the business of exploring and developing mineral properties with the intention of locating economic deposits of minerals. Our property interests are at the exploration stage. Accordingly, it is unlikely that we will realize profits in the short term, and we cannot assure you that we will realize profits in the medium to long term. Any profitability in the future from our business will be dependent upon development of an economic deposit of minerals and further exploration and development of other economic deposits of minerals, each of which is subject to numerous risk factors. Further, we cannot assure you that, even if an economic deposit of minerals is located, any of our property interests can be commercially mined. The exploration and development of mineral deposits involves a high degree of financial risk over a significant period of time which a combination of careful evaluation, experience and knowledge of management may not eliminate. While discovery of additional ore-bearing deposits may result in substantial rewards, few properties which are explored are ultimately developed into producing mines. Major expenses may be required to establish reserves by drilling and to construct mining and processing facilities at a particular site. It is impossible to ensure that our current exploration programs will result in profitable commercial mining operations. The profitability of our operations will be, in part, directly related to the cost and success of its exploration and development programs which may be affected by a number of factors. Additional expenditures are required to establish reserves which are sufficient to commercially mine and to construct, complete and install mining and processing facilities in those properties that are actually mined and developed.
In addition, exploration projects like ours have no operating history upon which to base estimates of future operating costs and capital requirements. Exploration project items, such as any future estimates of reserves, metal recoveries or cash operating costs will to a large extent be based upon the interpretation of geologic data, obtained from a limited number of drill holes and other sampling techniques, and future feasibility studies. Actual operating costs and economic returns of any and all exploration projects may materially differ from the costs and returns estimated, and accordingly our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows may be negatively affected.
Because the probability of an individual prospect ever having reserves is not known, our properties may not contain any reserves, and any funds spent on exploration and evaluation may be lost.
We are an exploration stage mining company, and we have no reserves as defined by Guide 7. We cannot assure you about the existence of economically extractable mineralization at this time, nor about the quantity or grade of any mineralization we may have found. Because the probability of an individual prospect ever having reserves is uncertain, our properties may not contain any reserves and any funds spent on evaluation and exploration may be lost. Even if we confirm reserves on our properties, any quantity or grade of reserves we indicate must be considered as estimates only until such reserves are actually mined. We do not know with certainty that
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economically recoverable lithium exists on our properties. In addition, the quantity of any reserves may vary depending on commodity prices. Any material change in the quantity or grade of reserves may affect the economic viability of our properties. Further, our lack of established reserves means that we are uncertain about our ability to generate revenue from our operations.
We face risks related to mining, exploration and mine construction, if warranted, on our properties.
Our level of profitability, if any, in future years will depend to a great degree on lithium prices and whether our exploration-stage properties can be brought into production. It is impossible to ensure that the current and future exploration programs and/or feasibility studies on our existing properties will establish reserves. Whether it will be economically feasible to extract lithium depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: the particular attributes of the deposit, such as size, grade and proximity to infrastructure; lithium prices; mining, processing and transportation costs; the willingness of lenders and investors to provide project financing; labor costs and possible labor strikes; and governmental regulations, including, without limitation, regulations relating to prices, taxes, royalties, land tenure, land use, importing and exporting materials, foreign exchange, environmental protection, employment, worker safety, transportation, and reclamation and closure obligations. The exact effect of these factors cannot be accurately predicted, but the combination of these factors may result in us receiving an inadequate return on invested capital. In addition, we are subject to the risks normally encountered in the mining industry, such as:
the discovery of unusual or unexpected geological formations;
accidental fires, floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters;
unplanned power outages and water shortages;
controlling water and other similar mining hazards;
operating labor disruptions and labor disputes;
the ability to obtain suitable or adequate machinery, equipment, or labor;
our liability for pollution or other hazards; and
other known and unknown risks involved in the conduct of exploration and operation of mines.
The nature of these risks is such that liabilities could exceed any applicable insurance policy limits or could be excluded from coverage. There are also risks against which we cannot insure or against which we may elect not to insure. The potential costs which could be associated with any liabilities not covered by insurance, or in excess of insurance coverage, or compliance with applicable laws and regulations may cause substantial delays and require significant capital outlays, adversely affecting our future earnings and competitive position and, potentially our financial viability.
Our long-term success will depend ultimately on our ability to achieve and maintain profitability and to develop positive cash flow from our mining activities.
Our long-term success, including the recoverability of the carrying values of our assets, our ability to acquire additional lithium projects, and continuing with exploration, development and commissioning and mining activities on our existing lithium project, will depend ultimately on our ability to achieve and maintain profitability and to develop positive cash flow from our operations by establishing ore bodies that contain commercially recoverable lithium and to develop these into profitable mining activities. The economic viability of our future mining activities has many risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to:
a significant, prolonged decrease in the market price of lithium;
difficulty in marketing and/or selling lithium;
significantly higher than expected capital costs to construct our mine;
significantly higher than expected extraction costs;
significantly lower than expected lithium extraction;
significant delays, reductions or stoppages of lithium extraction activities; and
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the introduction of significantly more stringent regulatory laws and regulations.
Our future mining activities may change as a result of any one or more of these risks and uncertainties, and we cannot assure you that any ore body that we extract mineralized materials from will result in achieving and maintaining profitability and developing positive cash flow.
Our long-term success depends on our ability to enter into and deliver product under supply agreements.
We may encounter difficulty entering into or maintaining supply agreements for our products, may fail to deliver required minimum tonnes required by such agreements or may experience production costs in excess of the fixed price to be paid to us under such agreements. On September 28, 2020, we entered into a sales agreement with Tesla, Inc. to provide spodumene concentrate to Tesla. The agreement commits us to sell at a fixed maximum price a number of tonnes of concentrate equal to approximately one-third of our estimated average annual production of 160,000 tonnes. The agreement has an initial five-year term running from the first delivery date and may be extended by mutual agreement for a second five-year term. The agreement contemplates a number of areas where the parties must come to a mutual agreement. For example, the agreement is conditional upon Tesla and us mutually agreeing, based on the development schedules of both parties, to a start date for deliveries that is between July 2022 and July 2023 and to the parties agreeing in good faith to an allocation of certain material costs. Our business, results of operations and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected if we are unable to enter into similar agreements with other parties, are unable to mutually agree to matters required by our agreement with Tesla and by such other agreements, are unable to deliver the product required by such agreements or experience costs in excess of the fixed price set forth in such agreements.
We depend on our ability to successfully access the capital and financial markets. Any inability to access the capital or financial markets may limit our ability to fund our ongoing operations, execute our business plan or pursue investments that we may rely on for future growth.
Until commercial production is achieved from our planned Mine/Concentrator and/or Chemical Plant, we will continue to incur operating and investing net cash outflows associated with among other things maintaining and acquiring exploration properties, undertaking ongoing exploration activities and the potential development of our planned Mine/Concentrator and/or Chemical Plant. As a result, we rely on access to capital markets as a source of funding for our capital and operating requirements. We require additional capital to fund our ongoing operations, explore and define lithium mineralization, conduct a feasibility study and establish any future mining operations, which would require funds for construction and working capital. We cannot assure you that such additional funding will be available to us on satisfactory terms, or at all, or that we will be successful in commencing commercial lithium extraction, or that our sales projections will be realized.
In order to finance our current operations, and future capital needs, we will require additional funds through the issuance of additional equity or debt securities. Depending on the type and the terms of any financing we pursue, shareholders’ rights and the value of their investment in our ordinary shares or the ADSs could be reduced. Any additional equity financing will dilute shareholdings, and new or additional debt financing, if available, may involve restrictions on financing and operating activities. In addition, if we issue secured debt securities, the holders of the debt would have a claim to our assets that would be prior to the rights of shareholders until the debt is paid. Interest on such debt securities would increase costs and negatively impact operating results. If the issuance of new securities results in diminished rights to holders of our ordinary shares or the ADSs, the market price of the ADSs could be negatively impacted.
If we are unable to obtain additional financing, as needed, at competitive rates, our ability to fund our current operations and implement our business plan and strategy will be affected, and we would be required to reduce the scope of our operations and scale back our exploration, development and mining programs. There is, however, no guarantee that we will be able to secure any additional funding or be able to secure funding which will provide us with sufficient funds to meet our objectives, which may adversely affect our business and financial position.
Certain market disruptions may increase our cost of borrowing or affect our ability to access one or more financial markets. Such market disruptions could result from:
adverse economic conditions;
adverse general capital market conditions;
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poor performance and health of the lithium or mining industries in general;
bankruptcy or financial distress of unrelated lithium companies or marketers;
significant decrease in the demand for lithium; or
adverse regulatory actions that affect our exploration and construction plans or the use of lithium generally.
Our ability to manage growth will have an impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Future growth may place strains on our financial, technical, operational and administrative resources and cause us to rely more on project partners and independent contractors, potentially adversely affecting our financial position and results of operations. Our ability to grow will depend on a number of factors, including:
our ability to obtain leases or options on properties;
our ability to identify and acquire new exploratory prospects;
our ability to develop existing prospects;
our ability to continue to retain and attract skilled personnel;
our ability to maintain or enter into new relationships with project partners and independent contractors;
the results of our exploration programs;
the market price for lithium;
our access to capital; and
our ability to enter into agreements for the sale of lithium.
We may not be successful in upgrading our technical, operational and administrative resources or increasing our internal resources sufficiently to provide certain of the services currently provided by third parties, and we may not be able to maintain or enter into new relationships with project partners and independent contractors on financially attractive terms, if at all. Our inability to achieve or manage growth may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are dependent upon key management employees.
The responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day operations and the strategic management of our business depends substantially on our senior management and our key personnel. Loss of such personnel may have an adverse effect on our performance. The success of our operations will depend upon numerous factors, many of which are beyond our control, including our ability to attract and retain additional key personnel in sales, marketing, technical support and finance. We currently depend upon a relatively small number of key persons to seek out and form strategic alliances and find and retain additional employees. Certain areas in which we operate are highly competitive regions and competition for qualified personnel is intense. We may be unable to hire suitable field personnel for our technical team or there may be periods of time where a particular position remains vacant while a suitable replacement is identified and appointed. We may not be successful in attracting and retaining the personnel required to grow and operate our business profitably.
Our growth will require new personnel, which we will be required to recruit, hire, train and retain.
Members of our management team possess significant experience and have previously carried out or been exposed to exploration and production activities. However, we have limited operating history with respect to lithium projects and our ability to achieve our objectives depends on the ability of our directors, officers and management to implement current plans and respond to any unforeseen circumstances that require changes to those plans. The execution of our exploration and development plans will place demands on us and our management. Our ability to recruit and assimilate new personnel will be critical to our performance. We will be required to recruit additional personnel and to train, motivate and manage employees, which may adversely affect our plans.
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Lawsuits may be filed against us and an adverse ruling in any such lawsuit may adversely affect our business, financial condition or liquidity or the market price of the ADSs.
In the normal course of our business, we may become involved in, named as a party to, or be the subject of, various legal proceedings, including regulatory proceedings, tax proceedings and legal actions, relating to personal injuries, property damage, property taxes, land rights, the environment and contract disputes. The outcome of outstanding, pending or future proceedings cannot be predicted with certainty and may be determined adversely to us and as a result, could have a material adverse effect on our assets, liabilities, business, financial condition or results of operations. Even if we prevail in any such legal proceeding, the proceedings could be costly and time-consuming and may divert the attention of management and key personnel from our business operations, which could adversely affect our financial condition.
Our mineral properties may be subject to defects in title.
Title to the majority of our lithium properties is derived from option agreements with local landowners in North Carolina, which upon exercise allow us to purchase (or in certain cases long-term lease) the surface property and the associated mineral rights from the local landowners. Upon exercise, in the case of a purchase, we will pay cash consideration approximating the fair market value of the surface property at the time of exercise (excluding the value of any minerals) plus a premium, either at a negotiated fixed price or a negotiated percentage premium (generally 50%) above the fair market value of the surface property at the time of exercise (excluding the value of any minerals). Upon exercise, in the case of a long-term lease, the Company will pay annual advanced royalty payments per acre. The landowners will also retain a production royalty payable on production of ore from the property, between US$0.50 to US$2.00 per metric tonne of ore mined.
The ownership and validity or title of unpatented mining claims and concessions are often uncertain and may be contested. We also may not have, or may not be able to obtain, all necessary surface rights to develop a property. Although we have obtained title opinions with respect to certain of our properties and have taken reasonable measures to ensure proper title to our properties, there is no guarantee that title to any of our properties will not be challenged or impugned. Title insurance is generally not available for mineral properties and our ability to ensure that we have obtained secure claim to individual mineral properties or mining concessions may be severely constrained. Our mineral properties may be subject to prior unregistered agreements, transfers or claims, and title may be affected by, among other things, undetected defects. We may incur significant costs related to defending the title to our properties. A successful claim contesting our title to a property may cause us to compensate other persons or perhaps reduce our interest in the affected property or lose our rights to explore and, if warranted, develop that property. This could result in us not being compensated for our prior expenditures relating to the property. Also, in any such case, the investigation and resolution of title issues would divert our management’s time from ongoing exploration and, if warranted, development programs. Any impairment or defect in title could negatively affect us.
Our directors may be in a position of conflict of interest.
Some of our directors and officers currently also serve as directors and officers of other companies involved in natural resource exploration, development and production, and any of our directors may in the future serve in such positions. As at the date of this annual report on Form 20-F, none of our directors or officers serves as an officer or director of a lithium exploration, development or producing company nor possesses a conflict of interests with our business. However, there exists the possibility that they may in the future be in a position of conflict of interest. Any decision made by such persons involving us will be made in accordance with their duties and obligations to deal fairly and in good faith with us and such other companies. In addition, any such directors will declare, and refrain from voting on, any matter in which such directors may have a material interest.
Regulatory and Industry Risks
The Piedmont Lithium Project will be subject to significant governmental regulations, including the U.S. Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.
Mining activities in the United States are subject to extensive federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations governing environmental protection, natural resources, prospecting, development, production, post-closure reclamation, taxes, labor standards and occupational health and safety laws and regulations, including mine safety, toxic substances and other matters. The costs associated with compliance with such laws
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and regulations are substantial. In addition, changes in such laws and regulations, or more restrictive interpretations of current laws and regulations by governmental authorities, could result in unanticipated capital expenditures, expenses or restrictions on or suspensions of our operations and delays in the development of our properties.
We will be required to obtain governmental permits in order to conduct development and mining operations, a process which is often costly and time-consuming.
We are required to obtain and renew governmental permits for our exploration activities and, prior to developing or mining any mineralization that we discover, we will be required to obtain new governmental permits. Obtaining and renewing governmental permits is a complex and time-consuming process. The timeliness and success of permitting efforts are contingent upon many variables not within our control, including the interpretation of permit approval requirements administered by the applicable permitting authority. We may not be able to obtain or renew permits that are necessary to our planned operations or the cost and time required to obtain or renew such permits may exceed our expectations. Any unexpected delays or costs associated with the permitting process could delay the exploration, development or operation of our properties, which in turn could materially adversely affect our future revenues and profitability. In addition, key permits and approvals may be revoked or suspended or may be changed in a manner that adversely affects our activities.
Private parties, such as environmental activists, frequently attempt to intervene in the permitting process and to persuade regulators to deny necessary permits or seek to overturn permits that have been issued. Obtaining the necessary governmental permits involves numerous jurisdictions, public hearings and possibly costly undertakings. These third-party actions can materially increase the costs and cause delays in the permitting process and could cause us to not proceed with the development or operation of a property. In addition, our ability to successfully obtain key permits and approvals to explore for, develop, operate and expand operations will likely depend on our ability to undertake such activities in a manner consistent with the creation of social and economic benefits in the surrounding communities, which may or may not be required by law. Our ability to obtain permits and approvals and to successfully operate in particular communities may be adversely affected by real or perceived detrimental events associated with our activities.
Compliance with environmental regulations and litigation based on environmental regulations could require significant expenditures.
Environmental regulations mandate, among other things, the maintenance of air and water quality standards, land development and land reclamation, and set forth limitations on the generation, transportation, storage and disposal of solid and hazardous waste. Environmental legislation is evolving in a manner that may require stricter standards and enforcement, increased fines and penalties for non-compliance, more stringent environmental assessments of proposed projects, and a heightened degree of responsibility for mining companies and their officers, directors and employees. In connection with our current exploration activities or in connection with our prior mining operations, we may incur environmental costs that could have a material adverse effect on financial condition and results of operations. Any failure to remedy an environmental problem could require us to suspend operations or enter into interim compliance measures pending completion of the required remedy.
Moreover, governmental authorities and private parties may bring lawsuits based upon damage to property and injury to persons resulting from the environmental, health and safety impacts of prior and current operations, including operations conducted by other mining companies many years ago at sites located on properties that we currently own or formerly owned. These lawsuits could lead to the imposition of substantial fines, remediation costs, penalties and other civil and criminal sanctions. We cannot assure you that any such law, regulation, enforcement or private claim would not have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Lithium prices are subject to unpredictable fluctuations.
We may derive revenues, if any, from the extraction and sale of lithium. The price of lithium may fluctuate widely and is affected by numerous factors beyond our control, including international, economic and political trends, expectations of inflation, currency exchange fluctuations, interest rates, global or regional consumptive patterns, speculative activities, increased production due to new extraction developments and improved extraction and production methods and technological changes in the markets for the end products. The effect of these factors on the price of lithium, and therefore the economic viability of any of our exploration properties, cannot accurately be predicted.
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Changes in technology or other developments could result in preferences for substitute products.
Lithium and its derivatives are preferred raw materials for certain industrial applications, such as rechargeable batteries and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Many materials and technologies are being researched and developed with the goal of making batteries lighter, more efficient, faster charging and less expensive. Some of these technologies could be successful and could adversely affect demand for lithium batteries in personal electronics, electric and hybrid vehicles and other applications. We cannot predict which new technologies may ultimately prove to be commercially viable and on what time horizon. In addition, alternatives to such products may become more economically attractive as global commodity prices shift. Any of these events could adversely affect demand for and market prices of lithium, thereby resulting in a material adverse effect on the economic feasibility of extracting any mineralization we discover and reducing or eliminating any reserves we identify.
New production of lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate from current or new competitors in the lithium markets could adversely affect prices.
In recent years, new and existing competitors have increased the supply of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, which has affected its price. Further production increases could negatively affect prices. There is limited information on the status of new lithium hydroxide production capacity expansion projects being developed by current and potential competitors and, as such, we cannot make accurate projections regarding the capacities of possible new entrants into the market and the dates on which they could become operational. If these potential projects are completed in the short term, they could adversely affect market lithium prices, thereby resulting in a material adverse effect on the economic feasibility of extracting any mineralization we discover and reducing or eliminating any reserves we identify.
Risks Related to an Investment in the ADSs
The market price and trading volume of the ADSs may be volatile and may be affected by economic conditions beyond our control.
The market price of the ADSs may be highly volatile and subject to wide fluctuations. In addition, the trading volume of the ADSs may fluctuate and cause significant price variations to occur. If the market price of the ADSs declines significantly, you may be unable to resell your ADSs at or above the purchase price, if at all. We cannot assure you that the market price of the ADSs will not fluctuate or significantly decline in the future.
Some specific factors that could negatively affect the price of the ADSs or result in fluctuations in their price and trading volume include:
actual or expected fluctuations in our prospects or operating results;
changes in the demand for, or market price of, lithium;
additions to or departures of our key personnel;
fluctuations of exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the Australian dollar;
changes or proposed changes in laws and regulations;
changes in trading volume of ADSs on Nasdaq and of our ordinary shares on the ASX;
sales or perceived potential sales of the ADSs or ordinary shares by us, our directors, senior management or our shareholders in the future;
announcement or expectation of additional financing efforts; and
conditions in the U.S. or Australian financial markets or changes in general economic conditions.
An active trading market for the ADSs may not develop and the trading price for our ordinary shares may fluctuate significantly.
Our ADSs are listed on Nasdaq. However, a liquid public market in the United States for the ADSs may not develop or be sustained, which means you may experience a decrease in the value of your ADSs regardless of our operating performance. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, shareholders often instituted securities class action litigation against that company. If we were involved in a class action suit, it could divert the attention of senior management and, if adversely determined, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
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Our ADS holders are not shareholders and do not have shareholder rights.
The Bank of New York Mellon, as depositary, issues and delivers ADSs. Our ADS holders will not be treated as shareholders and will not have shareholders rights. The depositary will be the holder of our ordinary shares underlying our ADSs. Holders of our ADSs will have ADS holder rights. A deposit agreement among us, the depositary, our ADS holders, and the beneficial owners of ADSs, sets out ADS holder rights as well as the rights and obligations of the depositary. New York law governs the deposit agreement and the ADSs. We and the depositary may amend or terminate the deposit agreement without the ADS holders’ consent in a manner that could prejudice ADS holders. For a description of ADS holder rights, see “Description of Share Capital,” which is included as an exhibit to this annual report on Form 20-F. Our shareholders have shareholder rights. Australian law and our Constitution govern shareholder rights. For a description of our shareholders’ rights, see “Additional Information—Share Capital.”
Our ADS holders do not have the same voting rights as our shareholders. Shareholders are entitled to receive our notices of general meetings and to attend and vote at our general meetings of shareholders. At a general meeting, every shareholder present (in person or by proxy, attorney or representative) and entitled to vote has one vote on a show of hands. Every shareholder present (in person or by proxy, attorney or representative) and entitled to vote has one vote per fully paid ordinary share on a poll. This is subject to any other rights or restrictions which may be attached to any shares. Our ADS holders may instruct the depositary to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs, but only if we ask the depositary to ask for their instructions. If we do not ask the depositary to ask for the instructions, our ADS holders are not entitled to receive our notices of general meeting. Our ADS holders will not be entitled to attend and vote at a general meeting unless they surrender their ADSs and withdraw the ordinary shares. However, our ADS holders may not have sufficient advance notice about the meeting to surrender their ADSs and withdraw the shares. If we ask for our ADS holders’ instructions, the depositary will notify our ADS holders of the upcoming vote and arrange to deliver our voting materials and form of notice to them. The depositary will try, as far as practical, subject to Australian law and the provisions of the deposit agreement, to vote the shares as our ADS holders instruct. The depositary will not vote or attempt to exercise the right to vote other than in accordance with the instructions of the ADS holders. We cannot assure our ADS holders that they will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote their shares. In addition, there may be other circumstances in which our ADS holders may not be able to exercise voting rights.
Our ADS holders do not have the same rights to receive dividends or other distributions as our shareholders. Subject to any special rights or restrictions attached to any shares, the directors may determine that a dividend will be payable on our ordinary shares and fix the amount, the time for payment and the method for payment (although we have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our ordinary shares and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future). Dividends may be paid on our ordinary shares of one class but not another and at different rates for different classes. Dividends and other distributions payable to our shareholders with respect to our ordinary shares generally will be payable directly to them. Any dividends or distributions payable with respect to ordinary shares will be paid to the depositary, which has agreed to pay to our ADS holders the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on shares or other deposited securities, after deducting its fees and expenses and subject to the provisions of the deposit agreement. Before the depositary makes a distribution to you on behalf of your ADSs, any withholding taxes that must be paid will be deducted. Additionally, if the exchange rate fluctuates during a time when the ADS depositary cannot convert the foreign currency, you may lose some or all of the value of the distribution. Our ADS holders will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares their ADSs represent. In addition, there may be certain circumstances in which the depositary may not pay to our ADS holders amounts distributed by us as a dividend or distribution.
There are circumstances where it may be unlawful or impractical to make distributions to the holders of our ADSs.
The deposit agreement with the depositary allows the depositary to distribute the foreign currency only to those ADS holders to whom it is possible to do so. If a distribution is payable by us in Australian dollars, the depositary will hold the foreign currency it cannot convert for the account of the ADS holders who have not been paid. It will not invest the foreign currency and it will not be liable for any interest. If the exchange rates fluctuate during a time when the depositary cannot convert the foreign currency, our ADS holders may lose some of the value of the distribution. The depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to
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make a distribution available to any ADS holders. This means that our ADS holders may not receive the distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to them.
Rights as a holder of ordinary shares are governed by Australian law and our Constitution and differ from the rights of shareholders under U.S. law. Holders of the ADSs may have difficulty in effecting service of process in the United States or enforcing judgments obtained in the United States.
We are a public company incorporated under the laws of Australia. Therefore, the rights of holders of our ordinary shares are governed by Australian law and our Constitution. These rights differ from the typical rights of shareholders in U.S. corporations. The rights of holders of ADSs are affected by Australian law and our Constitution but are governed by U.S. law. Circumstances that under U.S. law may entitle a shareholder in a U.S. company to claim damages may also give rise to a cause of action under Australian law entitling a shareholder in an Australian company to claim damages. However, this will not always be the case.
Holders of the ADSs may have difficulties enforcing, in actions brought in courts in jurisdictions located outside the United States, liabilities under U.S. securities laws. In particular, if such a holder sought to bring proceedings in Australia based on U.S. securities laws, the Australian court might consider whether:
it did not have jurisdiction;
it was not an appropriate forum for such proceedings;
applying Australian conflict of laws rule, U.S. law (including U.S. securities laws) did not apply to the relationship between holders of our ordinary shares or ADSs and us or our directors and officers; or
the U.S. securities laws were of a public or penal nature and should not be enforced by the Australian court.
Certain of our directors and executive officers are residents of countries other than the United States. Furthermore, a portion of our and their assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible for a holder of our ordinary shares or ADSs to:
effect service of process within the United States upon certain directors and executive officers or on us;
enforce in U.S. courts judgments obtained against any of our directors and executive officers or us in the U.S. courts in any action, including actions under the civil liability provisions of U.S. securities laws;
enforce in U.S. courts judgments obtained against any of our directors and senior management or us in courts of jurisdictions outside the United States in any action, including actions under the civil liability provisions of U.S. securities laws; or
bring an action in an Australian court to enforce liabilities against any of our directors and executive officers or us based upon U.S. securities laws.
Holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs may also have difficulties enforcing in courts outside the U.S. judgments obtained in the U.S. courts against any of our directors and executive officers or us, including actions under the civil liability provisions of the U.S. securities laws.
The dual listing of our ordinary shares and the ADSs may adversely affect the liquidity and value of the ADSs.
Our ordinary shares are listed on the ASX and our ADSs are listed on Nasdaq. We cannot predict the effect of this dual listing on the value of our ordinary shares and ADSs. However, the dual listing of our ordinary shares and ADSs may dilute the liquidity of these securities in one or both markets and may adversely affect the development of an active trading market for the ADSs in the United States. The price of the ADSs could also be adversely affected by trading in our ordinary shares on the ASX.
Currency fluctuations may adversely affect the price of the ADSs relative to the price of our ordinary shares.
The price of our ordinary shares is quoted in Australian dollars, and the price of the ADSs is quoted in U.S. dollars. Movements in the Australian dollar/U.S. dollar exchange rate may adversely affect the U.S. dollar price of the ADSs and the U.S. dollar equivalent of the price of our ordinary shares. If the Australian dollar
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weakens against the U.S. dollar, the U.S. dollar price of the ADSs could decline, even if the price of our ordinary shares in Australian dollars increases or remains unchanged. If we pay dividends, we will likely calculate and pay any cash dividends in Australian dollars and, as a result, exchange rate movements will affect the U.S. dollar amount of any dividends holders of the ADSs will receive from the depositary.
As a foreign private issuer, we are permitted and expect to follow certain home country corporate governance practices in lieu of certain Nasdaq requirements applicable to domestic issuers.
As a foreign private issuer listed on Nasdaq, we are permitted to follow certain home country corporate governance practices in lieu of certain Nasdaq practices. Following our home country corporate governance practices, as opposed to the requirements that would otherwise apply to a U.S. company listed on Nasdaq, may provide less protection than is afforded to investors under the Nasdaq rules applicable to domestic issuers.
In particular, we follow home country law instead of Nasdaq practice regarding:
Nasdaq’s requirement that a majority of our board of directors be “independent” as defined by Nasdaq rules. The ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations contain non-binding recommendations that all ASX-listed companies should strive to achieve, including a majority of the board being comprised of independent directors. Due to Australian law and generally accepted business practices in Australia regarding director independence, we have departed from this recommendation and differ from independence requirements under Nasdaq.
Nasdaq’s requirement that our independent directors meet regularly in executive sessions. The ASX Listing Rules and the Corporations Act do not require the independent directors of an Australian company to have such executive sessions and, accordingly, we have claimed this exemption.
Nasdaq’s requirement that an issuer provide for a quorum as specified in its bylaws for any meeting of the holders of ordinary shares, which quorum may not be less than 33 1/3% of the outstanding shares of an issuer’s voting ordinary shares. In compliance with Australian law, our Constitution provides that two shareholders present shall constitute a quorum for a general meeting.
Nasdaq’s requirement that we establish a compensation committee and that all members of such committee be “independent” as defined in the Nasdaq rules. Nasdaq rules would require that compensation to be determined, or recommended to the board of directors for determination, either by a compensation committee comprised of independent directors or by a majority of the independent directors on our board of directors. Instead, compensation of our directors and officers will be determined by our board of directors. The ASX Listing Rules and Australian law do not require an Australian company to establish a compensation committee, known in Australia as a remuneration committee, which is comprised solely of non-executive directors if the company is not included in the S&P/ASX300 Index at the beginning of its fiscal year. We were not included on the S&P/ASX300 Index at the beginning of our last fiscal year and, hence, are not required under ASX Listing Rules to have a remuneration committee. The ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations contain a non-binding recommendation that all ASX-listed companies should have a remuneration committee comprised of at least three members, a majority of whom (including the chair) are independent. While these recommendations contain guidelines for assessing independence, ASX-listed entities are able to adopt their own definitions of an independent director for this purpose and is different from the definition in the Nasdaq rules.
Nasdaq’s requirement that we establish a nominating committee and that all members of such committee be “independent” as defined in the Nasdaq rules. Nasdaq rules would require that nominations to be determined, or recommended to the board of directors for determination, either by a nominating committee comprised of independent directors or by a majority of the independent directors on our board of directors. Instead, nominations for persons for election as our directors are determined by our board of directors. The ASX Listing Rules and Australian law do not require an Australian company to establish a nominating committee.
Nasdaq’s requirement that issuers obtain shareholder approval prior to the issuance of securities in connection with certain acquisitions, changes of control or private placements of securities, or the establishment or amendment of certain stock option, purchase or other compensation plans. Applicable Australian law and rules differ from Nasdaq requirements, with the ASX Listing Rules providing
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generally for prior shareholder approval in numerous circumstances, including (i) issuance of equity securities exceeding 15% (or an additional 10% capacity to issue equity securities for the proceeding 12-month period if shareholder approval by special resolution is sought at the Company’s annual general meeting) of our issued share capital in any 12-month period (but, in determining the available issue limit, securities issued under an exception to the rule or with shareholder approval are not counted), (ii) issuance of equity securities to related parties (as defined in the ASX Listing Rules) and (iii) directors or their associates acquiring securities under an employee incentive plan.
Nasdaq’s requirement that we maintain a code of conduct in compliance with Nasdaq rules. Applicable Australian law does not require us to maintain a code of conduct.
As a foreign private issuer, we are permitted to file less information with the SEC than a company that files as a domestic issuer.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from certain rules under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), that impose disclosure requirements as well as procedural requirements for proxy solicitations under Section 14 of the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers, directors and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act. Moreover, we are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as a company that files as a domestic issuer whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act, nor are we generally required to comply with the SEC’s Regulation FD, which restricts the selective disclosure of material non-public information.
Under Australian law, we prepare financial statements on an annual and semi-annual basis, we are not required to prepare or file quarterly financial information other than quarterly updates. Our quarterly updates have consisted of a brief review of operations for the quarter together with a statement of cash expenditure during the quarter and the cash and cash equivalents balance as at the end of the quarter.
For as long as we are a “foreign private issuer,” we intend to file our annual financial statements on Form 20-F and furnish our semi-annual financial statements and quarterly updates on Form 6-K to the SEC as long as we are subject to the reporting requirements of Section 13(g) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. However, the information we file or furnish is not the same as the information that is required in annual and quarterly reports on Form 10-K or Form 10-Q for U.S. domestic issuers. Accordingly, there may be less information publicly available concerning us than there is for a company that files as a domestic issuer.
We may lose our foreign private issuer status, which would then require us to comply with the Exchange Act’s domestic reporting regime and cause us to incur additional legal, accounting and other expenses.
We are required to determine our status as a foreign private issuer on an annual basis at the end of our second fiscal quarter. In order to maintain our current status as a foreign private issuer, either (1) a majority of our ordinary shares must be either directly or indirectly owned of record by non-residents of the United States or (2) (a) a majority of our executive officers or directors must not be U.S. citizens or residents, (b) more than 50 percent of our assets cannot be located in the United States and (c) our business must be administered principally outside the United States. If we lost this status, we would be required to comply with the Exchange Act reporting and other requirements applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, which are more detailed and extensive than the requirements for foreign private issuers. We may also be required to make changes in our corporate governance practices in accordance with various SEC rules and Nasdaq listing standards. Further, we would be required to comply with United States generally accepted accounting principles, as opposed to IFRS, in the preparation and issuance of our financial statements for historical and current periods. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws if we are required to comply with the reporting requirements applicable to a U.S. domestic issuer may be higher than the cost we would incur as a foreign private issuer. As a result, we expect that a loss of foreign private issuer status would increase our legal and financial compliance costs.
We are an emerging growth company, and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make the ADSs less attractive to investors and, as a result, adversely affect the price of the ADSs and result in a less active trading market for the ADSs.
We are an emerging growth company as defined in the U.S. Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”) and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are
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applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. For example, we have elected to rely on an exemption from the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”) relating to internal control over financial reporting, and we will not provide such an attestation from our auditors.
We may avail ourselves of these disclosure exemptions until we are no longer an emerging growth company. We cannot predict whether investors will find the ADSs less attractive because of our reliance on some or all of these exemptions. If investors find the ADSs less attractive, it may adversely affect the price of the ADSs and there may be a less active trading market for the ADSs.
We will cease to be an emerging growth company upon the earliest of:
the last day of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenues of US$1,070,000,000 (as such amount is indexed for inflation every five years by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”)) or more;
the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our first sale of common equity securities pursuant to an effective registration statement under the Securities Act;
the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than US$1,070,000,000 in non-convertible debt; or
the date on which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer,” as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our ordinary shares and ADSs that are held by non-affiliates exceeds US$700,000,000 as of the last day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter.
We incur significant costs as a result of operating as a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, and our management is required to devote substantial time to compliance initiatives.
As a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, we incur significant legal, accounting, insurance and other expenses. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and related rules implemented by the SEC, have imposed various requirements on public companies including requiring establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and internal controls. Our management and other personnel need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives, and we may need to add additional personnel and build our internal compliance infrastructure. Moreover, these rules and regulations increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time consuming and costly. These laws and regulations could also make it more difficult and expensive for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as our senior management. Furthermore, if we are unable to satisfy our obligations as a public company in the United States, we could be subject to delisting of the ADSs, fines, sanctions and other regulatory action and potentially civil litigation.
We do not anticipate paying dividends in the foreseeable future.
We have not declared any dividends during fiscal 2018, 2019 or 2020 and do not anticipate that we will do so in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain future earnings, if any, to finance the development of our business. Dividends, if any, on our outstanding ordinary shares will be declared by and subject to the discretion of our Board of Directors on the basis of our earnings, financial requirements and other relevant factors, and subject to Australian law. As a result, a return on your investment will only occur if our ADS price appreciates. We cannot assure you that the ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchase the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in the ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in the ADSs.
If U.S. securities or industry analysts do not publish research reports about our business, or if they issue an adverse opinion about our business, the market price and trading volume of our ordinary shares or ADSs could decline.
The trading market for our ordinary shares and ADSs will be influenced by the research and reports that U.S. securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. Securities and industry analysts may discontinue research on us, to the extent such coverage currently exists, or in other cases, may never publish research on us. If no or too few U.S. securities or industry analysts commence coverage of our Company, the
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trading price for the ADSs would likely be negatively affected. In the event securities or industry analysts initiate coverage, if one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade the ADSs or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price of the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for the ADSs could decrease, which might cause our price and trading volume to decline. In addition, research and reports that Australian securities or industry analysts publish about us, our business or our ordinary shares may impact the market price of the ADSs.
You may be subject to limitations on transfers of your ADSs.
Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.
Our Constitution and Australian laws and regulations applicable to us may adversely affect our ability to take actions that could be beneficial to our shareholders.
As an Australian company we are subject to different corporate requirements than a corporation organized under the laws of the United States. Our Constitution, as well as the Australian Corporations Act, set forth various rights and obligations that are unique to us as an Australian company. These requirements may operate differently than those of many U.S. companies. You should carefully review the summary of these matters set forth under the section entitled “Additional Information-Share Capital” as well as our Constitution, which is included as an exhibit to this annual report on Form 20-F, prior to investing in the ADSs.
If we fail to maintain proper internal controls, our ability to produce accurate financial statements or comply with applicable regulations could be impaired.
We are subject to the reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. The SEC, as required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, has adopted rules requiring a public company to include a report of management on the effectiveness of such company’s internal control over financial reporting in its annual report on Form 20-F. In addition, once we cease to be an “emerging growth company,” as such term is defined in the JOBS Act, an independent registered public accounting firm for a public company must issue an attestation report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.
If in the future we are unable to conclude that we have effective internal controls over financial reporting or our independent auditors are unwilling or unable to provide us with an unqualified report on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, investors may lose confidence in our operating results, the price of the ADSs could decline and we may be subject to litigation or regulatory enforcement actions. In addition, if we are unable to meet the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we may not be able to remain listed on Nasdaq.
We believe that we were a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes for the taxable year ended June 30, 2020, and we may be a PFIC in future taxable years, which could have adverse tax consequences for our investors.
The rules governing passive foreign investment companies (“PFICs”) can have adverse consequences for U.S. investors for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), we will be a PFIC for any taxable year in which, after the application of certain “look-through” rules with respect to our subsidiaries, either (i) 75% or more of our gross income consists of “passive income,” or (ii) 50% or more of the average quarterly value of our assets consist of assets that produce, or are held for the production of, “passive income.” Passive income generally includes interest, dividends, rents, certain non-active royalties and capital gains. As discussed in “Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Certain Tax Consequences If We Are a Passive Foreign Investment Company,” we believe that we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended June 30, 2020 because we did not have active business income in that taxable year, and we may be a PFIC in future taxable years.
If we are characterized as a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations”) holds ADSs or ordinary shares, we generally would continue to be treated as a PFIC with respect to that U.S. Holder for all succeeding years during which the
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U.S. Holder holds ADSs or ordinary shares, even if we ceased to meet the threshold requirements for PFIC status. Such a U.S. Holder may suffer adverse tax consequences, including ineligibility for any preferential tax rates on capital gains or on actual or deemed dividends, interest charges on certain taxes treated as deferred and additional reporting requirements under U.S. federal income tax laws and regulations. A U.S. Holder may, in certain circumstances, make a timely qualified electing fund (“QEF”) election or a mark to market election to avoid or minimize the adverse tax consequences described above. We do not, however, expect to provide the information regarding our income that would be necessary in order for a U.S. Holder to make a QEF election. Potential investors should consult their own tax advisors regarding all aspects of the application of the PFIC rules to our ADSs and ordinary shares.
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ITEM 4
INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
A.
History and Development of the Company
Overview
Piedmont Lithium Limited holds a 100% interest in the Project located within the Carolina TSB and along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines, historically providing much of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and 1980s. The TSB has been described as one of the largest lithium regions in the world and is located approximately 25 miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Since securing the exploration rights and initial land position in mid-2016, we have focused on proving the Project’s potential. The Project comprises three (3) primary properties, which are the Core, Central, and Sunnyside properties. Four (4) drilling programs by the Company have recorded high grade mineralization in a majority of drill holes. Resource drilling has defined over 100 spodumene-bearing pegmatite bodies, with 74% of mineralization occurring within 100 meters of the surface. Pegmatites in each corridor on the Company’s Core property remain partially open at depth and remain open along strike. Pegmatites on the Company’s Central property remain open at depth and along strike. The TSB is one of the premier localities in the world to be exploring for lithium pegmatites given its favorable geology and ideal location with easy access to infrastructure, power, R&D centers for lithium and battery storage, major high-tech population centers and downstream lithium processing facilities. We are in a unique position to leverage our position as a first mover in restarting exploration in this historic lithium-producing region.
At June 30, 2020, the Project comprised approximately 2,126 acres of surface property and associated mineral rights in North Carolina, United States, of which approximately 391 acres are owned, approximately 79 acres are subject to lease-to-own agreements, and approximately 1,656 acres are subject to exclusive option agreements. These exclusive option agreements, upon exercise, allows us to purchase or, in some cases, enter into long-term leases for the surface property and associated mineral rights.
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We also own a 61-acre property in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, which will be the site of our proposed Chemical Plant. The site is located approximately 20 miles from our proposed Mine/Concentrator in Gaston County, North Carolina.

Piedmont Lithium Location in Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt
Under Guide 7 we are an exploration stage company because we do not currently have any proven and probable reserves under Guide 7 standards. See “Cautionary Note to United States Investors.”
Our head office is located at 32N Main Street Suite 100, Belmont, NC 28012, United States. The telephone number of our head office is +1 (704) 461-8000. Our registered office is located at Level 9, 28 The Esplanade, Perth, Western Australia 6000. The telephone number of our registered office is +61 (8) 9322-6322.
We were originally incorporated in New South Wales as Penfold Printers Limited on September 27, 1983. We changed our name to W C Penfold Limited on January 7, 1988. After a recapitalization in 2004, we began to engage in prospective gold, uranium, copper and base metal projects. We changed our name to WCP Diversified Investments Limited on April 4, 2005, to WCP Resources Limited on December 7, 2006, and most recently to our current name, Piedmont Lithium Limited, on August 18, 2017. We are subject to the provisions of the Australian Corporations Act.
Our ordinary shares are publicly traded on the ASX under the symbol “PLL.” Our ADSs, each representing 100 of our ordinary shares, are publicly traded on Nasdaq under the symbol “PLL.” The Bank of New York Mellon, acting as depositary, registers and delivers the ADSs.
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During fiscal 2020:
we completed a pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) for our proposed lithium hydroxide chemical plant (“Chemical Plant”) in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, USA. The PFS highlights a business model where a Piedmont built and owned Chemical Plant would convert spodumene concentrate purchased on the global market to battery-grade lithium hydroxide;
we completed an updated scoping study (“Scoping Study”) for our integrated mine-to-hydroxide project. The mine-to-hydroxide project comprises a mine and concentrator producing spodumene concentrate which will be transported to our Chemical Plant and converted into battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The updated scoping study includes the results of the Chemical Plant PFS;
we completed additional metallurgical testwork to produce 120 kilograms of spodumene concentrate from core samples collected from the Project. Concentrate qualities and recoveries were consistent with earlier testwork programs, with a grade above 6.0% Li2O, iron oxide below 1.0%, and low impurities;
we completed a bench-scale lithium hydroxide testwork program at SGS Canada, Inc. in Lakefield, Ontario which demonstrated conversion of spodumene concentrate to battery-quality lithium hydroxide;
we completed our Phase 4 drill program, which comprised 113 holes for a total of 18,393 meters. The Phase 4 drill program was successful in expanding the Project’s mine life from 13 to 25 years;
we completed soil and rock chip sampling at our Project in North Carolina, United States, which led to the discovery of five new spodumene-bearing pegmatites in areas that have not previously been explored;
we completed federal permitting required to develop the proposed mine and concentrator at the Project, following receipt of a Clean Water Act Section 404 Standard Individual Permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”);
we completed Mineral Resource estimates and bench-scale metallurgical testwork for by-product quartz, feldspar and mica as by-products of spodumene concentrate from the Project. The Mineral Resource estimates were prepared by independent consultants, CSA Global Pty Ltd;
we concluded a definitive and exclusive marketing agreement for byproduct quartz, feldspar, and mica with Ion Carbon, a division of AMCI Group. The Company continues to advance offtake discussions for byproducts with quartz offtake discussions the most advanced;
we entered into a memorandum of understanding with Primero Group for the delivery of Piedmont’s planned spodumene concentrator on an engineer, procure, and construct basis, with Primero Group to contract operate the spodumene concentrator for a period of up to six years following construction;
we appointed Mr. Austin Devaney as Vice President – Sales & Marketing. Mr. Devaney spent most of the past decade in senior marketing roles with Albemarle Corporation, most recently as Vice President, Strategic Marketing and Customer Excellence;
we completed a U.S. public offering of 2,065,000 of our American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”), each representing 100 of our ordinary shares, at an issue price of US$6.30 per ADS, to raise gross proceeds of US$12.9 million (~A$18.6 million) (“Public Offering”);
we announced an Australian private placement to existing non-U.S. institutional and sophisticated shareholders and directors of 120,000,000 of our ordinary shares, at an issue price of A$0.09 per share (which equates to the same issue price of the Public Offering), to raise gross proceeds of A$10.8 million (~US$7.8 million) (“Private Placement”). We completed the Private Placement subsequent to the end of fiscal 2020; and
we continued numerous preliminary off-take, financing and strategic conversations, including companies from the lithium, mining, chemicals, battery, automotive and private equity sectors.
Subsequent to the end of fiscal 2020:
we announced that we had entered into a binding agreement with Tesla, Inc. (“Tesla”) for the supply of spodumene concentrate (“SC6”) from Piedmont's North Carolina deposit to Tesla. The agreement is for an initial five-year term on a fixed-price binding purchase commitment from the delivery of first product and may be extended by mutual agreement for a second five-year term. The Agreement covers
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a fixed commitment representing approximately one-third of Piedmont's planned SC6 production of 160,000 tonnes per annum for the initial five-year term as well as an additional quantity to be delivered at Tesla's option. The SC6 sales are expected to generate between 10-20% of Piedmont's total revenues from its proposed integrated mine-to-hydroxide project for the initial five-year term. The agreement is conditional upon Tesla and Piedmont agreeing to a start date for spodumene concentrate deliveries between July 2022 and July 2023 based on the development schedules of both parties;
we announced the results of a bench-scale lithium hydroxide testwork program at SGS Canada, Inc. in Lakefield, Ontario which demonstrated conversion of Piedmont ore to battery-quality lithium hydroxide; and
we completed the Private Placement.
We also maintain a website at www.piedmontlithium.com. The information contained on our website or available through our website is not incorporated by reference into and should not be considered a part of this annual report on Form 20-F, and the reference to our website in this annual report on Form 20-F is an inactive textual reference only.
Strengths
We believe that we are well-positioned to successfully execute our business strategies because of the following competitive strengths:
Located in a historical major lithium mining district in the United States. The Project is located within the TSB and along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines, historically providing much of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and 1980s. The TSB extends over approximately 40 miles in length and reaches a maximum width of approximately one mile.
Proximate to existing lithium processing facilities. Albemarle Corporation (“Albemarle”) and Livent Corporation (“Livent”) continue to maintain important lithium processing facilities near the Project site. Livent’s Bessemer City lithium processing facility is approximately six miles from the Project, while Albemarle’s Kings Mountain lithium processing facility is approximately 12 miles from the Project.
Significant existing mining related infrastructure. We believe the Project is well situated in a historical lithium mining district, with access to road and rail infrastructure, a highly skilled labor force, low cost baseload grid power, research and development centers for lithium and battery storage and access to major high-tech population centers.
First mover in restarting exploration in the Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt. We believe we are in a strong position to leverage our position as a first mover in restarting exploration in the historic lithium producing region, with the aim of developing a strategic, U.S. domestic source of lithium to supply the increasing electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
Lithium Mineral Resource Defined. During fiscal 2018, we announced an initial lithium Mineral Resource estimate for the Project, which was the first Mineral Resource estimate completed in over 30 years in the historic TSB. During fiscal 2019, we increased our total lithium Mineral Resources for the Project by 72%.
Key Permits Received. During fiscal 2020, we completed the federal permitting required to develop our proposed mine and concentrator at the Project, following receipt of a Clean Water Act Section 404 Standard Individual Permit from the USACE.
Metallurgical Testwork Progressing. During fiscal 2020, we completed bench-scale metallurgical testwork for the production of lithium hydroxide, which demonstrated the ability of our ore body to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide. We also produced 120 kilograms of spodumene concentrate from core samples collected from the Project, with a grade above 6.0% Li2O, iron oxide below 1.0%, and low impurities.
Technical Studies Progressing. During fiscal 2020, we completed a PFS for our proposed Chemical Plant in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, USA and an updated Scoping Study for our integrated mine-to-hydroxide project.
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Highly experienced management team with a long history of acquiring and developing mining properties. Our senior management team has significant experience in acquiring, developing and financing mines. They have previously held senior business development, financial, operations, and sales positions at both large, publicly traded mining companies as well as successful private mining operations.
Development Plans
Subject to market conditions and the ability to define an economically viable project, our business plan for the Project is to become a highly strategic, U.S. domestic source of lithium to supply the increasing electric vehicle and battery storage markets. We plan to effect our business plan by:
completing additional drilling programs on our properties to expand the current Mineral Resource estimate and increase the geological confidence of the Mineral Resource estimate;
continuing to secure additional properties within the TSB to undertake additional exploration;
undertaking further technical studies to assess the economic potential of the Project and defining a lithium reserve base, including further metallurgical studies and feasibility studies;
undertaking discussions with potential lithium offtake parties for future sale of lithium products;
completing required permitting and zoning activities required to commence mining and processing operations at the Project;
completing required financing activities;
completing construction of Piedmont’s lithium mining and processing activities; and
beginning lithium mining and processing activities to supply electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
U.S. Regulations
Emerging Growth Company Status
We are an “emerging growth company” under the JOBS Act and will continue to qualify as an “emerging growth company” until the earliest to occur of:
the last day of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenues of US$1,070,000,000 (as such amount is indexed for inflation every five years by the SEC) or more;
the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our first sale of common equity securities pursuant to an effective registration statement under the Securities Act;
the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than US$1,070,000,000 in non-convertible debt; or
the date on which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer,” as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our ordinary shares and ADSs that are held by non-affiliates exceeds US$700,000,000 as of the last day of our most recently-completed second fiscal quarter.
An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified exemptions from various requirements that are otherwise applicable to public companies in the United States. Generally, a company that registers any class of its securities under Section 12 of the Exchange Act is required to include in the second and all subsequent annual reports filed by it under the Exchange Act, a management report on internal control over financial reporting and, subject to an exemption available to companies that meet the definition of a “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, an auditor attestation report on management’s assessment of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. However, for so long as we continue to qualify as an emerging growth company, we will be exempt from the requirement to include an auditor attestation report in our annual reports filed under the Exchange Act, even if we do not qualify as a “smaller reporting company.” In addition, Section 103(a)(3) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been amended by the JOBS Act, to provide that, among other things, auditors of an emerging growth company are exempt from any rules of the Public Company Accounting
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Oversight Board requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report in which the auditor would be required to provide additional information about the audit and the financial statements of the company.
Pursuant to Section 107(b) of the JOBS Act, an emerging growth company may elect to utilize an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards for public companies until such standards apply to private companies. We have elected not to utilize this extended transition period. This election is irrevocable.
Foreign Private Issuer Status
We are also considered a “foreign private issuer” pursuant to Rule 405 under the Securities Act. As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from certain rules under the Exchange Act that impose certain disclosure obligations and procedural requirements for proxy solicitations under Section 14 of the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers, directors and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and the rules under the Exchange Act with respect to their purchases and sales of our ordinary shares or ADSs. Moreover, we are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as United States companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act. In addition, we are not required to comply with Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure), which restricts the selective disclosure of material information.
Under Australian law, we prepare financial statements on an annual and semi-annual basis, and we are not required to prepare or file quarterly financial information other than quarterly updates. Our quarterly updates consist of a brief review of operations for the quarter together with a statement of cash expenditure during the quarter, the cash and cash equivalents balance as at the end of the quarter and estimated cash outflows for the following quarter.
For as long as we are a “foreign private issuer” we intend to file our annual financial statements on Form 20-F and furnish our semi-annual financial statements and quarterly updates on Form 6-K to the SEC for so long as we are subject to the reporting requirements of Section 13(g) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. However, the information we file or furnish is not the same as the information that is required in annual and quarterly reports on Form 10-K or Form 10-Q for U.S. domestic issuers. Accordingly, there may be less information publicly available concerning us than there is for a company that files as a domestic issuer.
We may take advantage of these exemptions until such time as we are no longer a foreign private issuer. We are required to determine our status as a foreign private issuer on an annual basis at the end of our second fiscal quarter. We would cease to be a foreign private issuer at such time if more than 50% of our outstanding voting securities are held by U.S. residents and any of the following three circumstances applies: (1) the majority of our executive officers or directors are U.S. citizens or residents; (2) more than 50% of our assets are located in the United States; or (3) our business is administered principally in the United States. Since more than 50% of our assets are located in the United States, we will lose our status as a foreign private issuer if more than 50% of our outstanding voting securities are held by U.S. residents as of the last day of our second fiscal quarter in any year. See “Risk Factors—We may lose our foreign private issuer status, which would then require us to comply with the Exchange Act’s domestic reporting regime and cause us to incur additional legal, accounting and other expenses.”
Capital Expenditures
We currently expense, rather than capitalize, our exploration and appraisal costs (other than costs associated with acquiring the exploration properties, which are capitalized) and will continue to do so until completion of a bankable feasibility study. As a result, our capital expenditures consist principally of costs associated with acquisition and maintenance of exploration rights. Our capital expenditures for fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020 amounted to $0.6 million, $1.5 million, and $3.4 million, respectively.
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B.
Business Overview
Under Guide 7 we are an exploration stage company as we do not currently have any proven and probable reserves under Guide 7 standards. See “Cautionary Note to United States Investors.”
Overview
We hold a 100% interest in the Project located within the TSB and along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines, which historically provided much of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and 1980s. We are currently undertaking exploration and appraisal activities, comprising drilling campaigns and technical studies to assess to the economic potential of the Project with the aim of becoming an integrated lithium business. Following the completion of all technical studies and all necessary permitting activities, Piedmont may undertake mining and lithium processing activities to produce a highly strategic, U.S. domestic source of lithium to supply the growing electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
Located in Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt
The TSB has previously been described as one of the largest lithium provinces in the world and is located approximately 25 miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. The TSB was the most important lithium producing region in the world prior to the establishment of operations in Australia, Chile and Argentina in the 1980s and 1990s. The TSB extends over approximately 40 miles in length and reaches a maximum width of approximately one mile. We believe the TSB is one of the premier localities in the world to be exploring for lithium pegmatites given its favorable geology and ideal location with easy access to infrastructure, power, R&D centers for lithium and battery storage, major high-tech population centers and downstream lithium processing facilities.
Portions of the Project were originally explored by Lithium Corporation of America which eventually was acquired by FMC. FMC and Albemarle both historically mined the lithium bearing spodumene pegmatites from the TSB, with the historic Kings Mountain lithium mine being described as one of the richest spodumene deposits in the world by Albemarle. These two mines and their respective metallurgy also formed the basis for the design of the two lithium processing facilities in the region which were the first modern spodumene processing facilities in the western world.
Albemarle and Livent continue to operate important lithium processing facilities near the Project site. Livent’s Bessemer City lithium processing facility is approximately six miles from the Project, while Albemarle’s Kings Mountain lithium processing facility is approximately 12 miles from the Project.
We believe we are in a strong position to leverage our position as a first mover in restarting exploration in the historic lithium producing region, with the aim of developing a strategic, U.S. domestic source of lithium to supply the increasing electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
The Piedmont Lithium Project
At June 30, 2020, the Project comprised approximately 2,126 acres of surface property and associated mineral rights in North Carolina, United States, of which approximately 391 acres are owned, approximately 79 acres are subject to lease-to-own agreements, and approximately 1,656 acres are subject to exclusive option agreements. These exclusive option agreements, upon exercise, allows us to purchase or, in some cases, enter into long-term leases for the surface property and associated mineral rights.
Our option agreements generally expire between 2020 and 2023 and provide for annual option payments, bonus payments during periods when we conduct drilling and royalty payments during periods when we conduct mining. Our option agreements generally provide us with an option to purchase the optioned property at a specified premium over fair market value. Our obligation to make annual option payments and drilling payments will terminate with respect to a property if we exercise our purchase option.
We also own a 61-acre property in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, which will be the site of our proposed Chemical Plant. The site is located approximately 20 miles from our proposed Mine/Concentrator in Gaston County, North Carolina.
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Drilling Programs
As at June 30, 2020, a total of 371 diamond core holes have been drilled on the Project, for a total of 57,641 meters of drilling. The table below shows the breakdown of our drilling as at June 30, 2020 with regards to the historic drilling completed by North Arrow Minerals and the subsequent four (4) drilling programs completed by Piedmont.
Drilling Program
No. Holes
Core Property
Drilling (m)
Central
Property
Drilling (m)
Sunnyside
Property
Drilling (m)
Total Length
Drilled (m)
Historical
19
2,544
2,544
Phase 1
12
1,667
1,667
Phase 2
93
12,263
12,263
Phase 3
134
21,363
500
911
22,774
Phase 4
113
14,218
4,175
18,393
Total
371
52,055
4,675
911
57,641
In addition to the above, we have drilled six sterilization holes totaling 925 meters on the proposed concentrator and waste rock stockpile sites.
Quality Control of Drilling
We have established standard operating procedures related to drill sampling, after consultation with a mining and geology consulting company. Our quality control program is designed to conform with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum Exploration Best Practices Guidelines (2000). The program requires us to monitor sample collection procedures, sample shipments, chain of custody and sample preparation, as well as the precision and accuracy of analyses and data collection. In addition, in connection with each publication of drill core results we assess such results under a JORC Checklist of Assessment and Reporting Criteria.
Mineral Resource Estimates
During fiscal year 2018:
we announced an initial Mineral Resource estimate for the Core property within the Project. The Mineral Resource estimate was prepared by independent consultants, CSA Global Pty Ltd and reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012 Edition).
During fiscal year 2019:
we announced initial Mineral Resource estimates for by-products quartz, feldspar and mica for the Core property within Project. The Mineral Resource estimate was prepared by independent consultants, CSA Global Pty Ltd and reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012 Edition);
we announced an initial Mineral Resource estimate for the Central property within the Project. The Mineral Resource estimate was prepared by independent consultants, CSA Global Pty Ltd and reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012 Edition); and
we announced an updated Mineral Resource estimate the Core property within the Project. These Mineral Resource estimates were prepared by independent consultants, CSA Global Pty Ltd and reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012 Edition).
During fiscal year 2020:
we conducted additional Phase 4 exploration drilling, but did not announce an updates to our Mineral Resource estimates.
Geology
Regionally, the TSB extends for 40 kilometers along the litho-tectonic boundary between the inner Piedmont and Kings Mountain belts. The mineralized pegmatites are thought to be concurrent and cross-cutting dike swarms extending from the Cherryville granite, as the dikes progressed further from their sources, they became increasingly enriched in incompatible elements such as lithium (Li) and tin (Sn). The dikes are considered to be unzoned.
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At the Core property, spodumene pegmatites range from 1 meter to more than 20 meters thick and are hosted in a fine-to-medium-grained, weakly-to-moderately-foliated, biotite, hornblende, quartz feldspar gneiss, commonly referred to as amphibolite. The spodumene pegmatites range from fine grained (aplite) to very coarse-grained pegmatite with primary mineralogy consisting of spodumene, quartz, plagioclase, potassium-feldspar and muscovite. X-ray Diffraction analysis has confirmed spodumene as the only lithium bearing ore mineral in the mineralized pegmatites, whereas varying amounts of, holmquistite, lepidolite and petalite have been identified in the amphibolite host rock alteration zones immediately adjacent to the mineralized pegmatites and outside of the Mineral Resource estimate.
To date, over 100 spodumene pegmatite bodies have been identified and/or modeled on the property. The mineralized dikes predominantly strike northeast and dip southeast. Some dikes have impressive lateral extent in which they can be traced for 500+ meters, whereas vertically, the steep dipping dikes extend 150 to 200 meters down-dip. In addition, a series of flat to shallowly dipping dikes have been defined. Both sets of dikes have similar grade; however, grades and thicknesses increase when two sets of dikes intersect.
A highly variable, low temperature clay/mica alteration has been identified on the property. Locally and more commonly at depth, it has overprinted the spodumene mineralization resulting in spodumene pseudomorphs that range from partial to complete replacement. This alteration is easily identified in the core by the difference in hardness between the spodumene and the much softer pseudomorphs. This alteration should not to be confused with highly weathered pegmatite commonly encountered at the surface.
At the Project’s Central property, spodumene pegmatites are hosted in a fine-to-medium-grained, weakly-to-moderately-foliated metasediments. The spodumene pegmatites range from fine-grained (aplite) to very coarse-grained pegmatite with primary mineralogy consisting of spodumene, quartz, plagioclase, potassium-feldspar and muscovite. The Central Mineral Resource is comprised of two sub-parallel northeast trending spodumene bearing pegmatite dikes. The western dike is defined by 11 drill holes for a strike length of 370 meters and to a depth of 230 meters. This dike dips steeply to the southeast and remains open in all directions. The eastern dike has been intersected by 5 drill holes, traced for 220 meters and is nearly vertical in its orientation. The dike is high grade and has produced some of Piedmont’s best drill results to date. This dike also remains open in all directions.
Metallurgical Testwork Program
Spodumene Concentrate
During fiscal year 2020, we completed a PFS-level metallurgical testwork program designed to produce spodumene concentrate from composite samples from the Project. We partnered with SGS Laboratories in Lakefield, Ontario for this testwork program. DMS and flotation Locked-Cycle Tests (“LCT”) test work results showed high quality spodumene concentrate product with a grade above 6.0% Li2O, iron oxide below 1.0%, and low impurities from composite samples. This metallurgical test work included evaluation of DMS technology’s potential to function as a concentration step to produce high-quality spodumene concentrate. Flotation LCT test work was also performed on the composite samples to verify prior test work and estimate spodumene recoveries. Samples weighing 160 to 220 kilograms were composited from mineralized core samples drilled within the Company’s Core Property. Dilution material was added to each of the composites to create samples which would be representative of future operations.
Samples from this testwork were processed in SGS Lakefield’s pilot DMS plant. Samples were processed as a coarse fraction (6.35mm x 3.3mm) and fine fraction (3.3mm x 1.0mm) and subjected to two stages of separation. Ultrafine material (1.0mm x 0) was screened from each sample for flotation locked-cycle tests. Seven cycles of locked cycle flotation testwork including spodumene rougher flotation and three cleaner stages was performed on variability samples with the average results of cycles 3 to 7 reported. Third cleaner spodumene concentrate was subjected to magnetic separation with the non-magnetics reported as final concentrate. Overall lithium recovery during testwork for the preferred flowsheet was 77% at a grade of 6.35% Li2O. Simulations based on the testwork results support an overall plant design recovery of 85% when targeting a 6.0% Li2O spodumene concentrate product. Further optimization will be undertaken in a future feasibility-level pilot testwork program.
Additionally, during fiscal year 2020, we produced an additional 120 kilograms of spodumene concentrate using a combination of DMS and flotation processes. This spodumene concentrate sample had a grade of 6.21% Li2O and 0.87% Fe2O3 and the testwork operation achieved metallurgical recovery of 82.4% which also supports a planned recovery of 85% for a target spodumene concentrate grade of 6.0% Li2O.
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The 120 kilogram sample was processed in a bench-scale lithium hydroxide testwork program which commenced during fiscal year 2020 and was completed subsequent to the end of the fiscal year.
Byproducts
During fiscal year 2020 we completed larger scale samples of quartz and feldspar byproducts. Byproduct samples were produced using tailings from the spodumene concentrate testwork programs completed during the fiscal year. Composite byproduct samples were delivered to our byproduct marketing partner, Ion Carbon, for ongoing discussions related to byproduct offtake. The table below describes composite byproduct quality achieved.
Average Composite Results of Six Locked Cycle Byproduct Tests
 
Li2O
SiO2
Al2O3
K2O
Na2O
CaO
MgO
MnO
P2O5
Fe2O3
Quartz Concentrate
0.02
99.0
0.32
0.04
0.11
0.01
0.01
0.01
0.01
0.01
Feldspar Concentrate
0.12
68.0
19.35
2.45
9.30
0.17
0.04
0.01
0.15
0.05
Lithium Hydroxide
During fiscal year 2020 the company undertook bench scale lithium hydroxide testwork to produce samples of battery quality lithium hydroxide from spodumene concentrate produced in our composite testwork programs. The testwork flowsheet approximates the design we put forward in our announced PFS results.

Block Flow Diagram of the LiOH Conversion Testwork Program
The testwork program produced samples of battery quality lithium hydroxide which achieved greater than 56.5% LiOH content with low impurities.
Results of Piedmont Lithium Hydroxide Testwork
Product
LiOH
Na
K
Fe
Ca
Cu
Mg
Si
Cl
SO4
CO2
Unit
(%)
ppm
ppm
ppm
ppm
ppm
ppm
ppm
ppm
ppm
(%)
Value
>56.5
<20
<10
<2
<9
<1
<0.7
<8
<10
<100
0.48
Chemical Plant PFS
During fiscal year 2020, we announced the results of a pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) for our proposed lithium hydroxide chemical plant (“Chemical Plant”) in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, USA. The PFS highlights a business model where a Piedmont built and owned Chemical Plant would convert spodumene concentrate purchased on the global market to battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
This Chemical Plant would compete against the numerous merchant spodumene converters currently operating in China, providing US and European automotive companies a secure and independent American source of the lithium hydroxide required for their supply chains.
Chemical Plant
The Chemical Plant PFS features a lithium processing plant that includes spodumene concentrate receiving/short term storage facilities, reagent receiving and storage facilities, process facilities, and site infrastructure. The Chemical Plant PFS excludes a Mine/Concentrator and residue storage facilities. The merchant Chemical Plant PFS contemplates a 25-year project life. The ramp-up period for Chemical Plant operations is assumed to achieve nameplate capacity including both overall production and battery quality production after a 24-month ramp-up period.
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The Chemical Plant is designed to produce steady-state production of approximately 22,700 tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate per year over the 25-year production life. The PFS was based on a merchant strategy which assumes Piedmont will purchase approximately 3.66 million tonnes of spodumene concentrate on the global market to be consumed by the Chemical Plant to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
Operating Costs
The Chemical Plant PFS is projected to have an average life of project cash operating cost of approximately US$6,689 per tonne of lithium hydroxide, including royalties. This operating cost estimate assumes an average life-of-project spodumene concentrate cost of US$651/t delivered to the Chemical Plant in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.
Capital Costs
The Chemical Plant PFS estimates the capital cost to construct the Chemical Plant to be US$377 million including owner’s costs and contingencies. A contingency of 25% has been carried in the economic modelling of the Chemical Plant project.
Integrated Scoping Study
During fiscal year 2020, we also announced the results of an updated scoping study (“Scoping Study”) for our integrated mine-to-hydroxide project. The mine-to-hydroxide project comprises a mine and concentrator producing spodumene concentrate which will be transported to our Chemical Plant and converted into battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The updated scoping study includes the results of the Chemical Plant PFS.
Mining
The integrated Scoping Study assumes a total production target for spodumene concentrate of approximately 3.8 million tonnes, averaging approximately 160,000 tonnes of concentrate per year over a 25-year mine life. This equates to an average of 1,150,000 tonnes of ore processed per year, totaling approximately 25.6 million tonnes of run-of-mine (“ROM”) ore at an average ROM grade of 1.11% Li2O (undiluted) over the 25-year mine life. The Scoping Study contemplates a self-performing mining strategy with management and processing retained by Piedmont personnel. Further evaluation of contracting strategies for the construction and operations of the mine will be undertaken in future phases of study.
Chemical Plant
The integrated Scoping Study assumes a lithium Chemical Plant production life of 25 years, commencing concurrently with the start of mining and concentrator operations. Of the total production target of 3.8 million tonnes of concentrate, approximately 0.25 million tonnes of concentrate will be sold to third parties during years one to five of mining operations and approximately 3.65 million tonnes will be supplied to Piedmont’s Chemical Plant for conversion into lithium hydroxide, resulting in a total production target of approximately 554,600 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, achieving steady-state production of approximately 22,700 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year over the 25-year production life.
Byproducts
Our forecasted production of by-products is based on the current process design of the concentrator and a high-level analysis of market potential for these minerals. The Company has assumed that approximately one-third of the by-product mineral potential will be converted to salable by-products with production and sales of approximately 1.9 million tonnes of quartz concentrate, 2.8 million tonnes of feldspar concentrate, and 0.3 million tonnes of mica concentrate over the life of mine.
Operating Costs
The integrated Project is projected to have an average life of project cash operating cost of approximately US$3,712 per tonne of lithium hydroxide, including royalties and net of by-product credits, positioning Piedmont as potentially one of the industry’s lowest-cost producers.
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Capital Costs
The Scoping Study estimates the total development capital cost to construct the mine and concentrator to be US$168 million, which includes contingency, land expenses, and owner’s costs. A 20% contingency has been carried on most costs in the economic modelling of the Mine/Concentrator project.
Piedmont estimates the capital cost to construct the Chemical Plant to be US$377 million including owner’s costs and contingencies. A contingency of 25% has been carried in the economic modelling of the Chemical Plant project.
Marketing, Sales, Contracts and Principal Markets
On September 28, 2020, we entered into a sales agreement with Tesla, Inc. to provide spodumene concentrate to Tesla. The agreement commits us to sell at a fixed maximum price a number of tonnes of concentrate equal to approximately one-third of our estimated average annual production of 160,000 tonnes. The agreement has an initial five-year term running from the first delivery date and may be extended by mutual agreement for a second five-year term. The agreement contemplates a number of areas where the parties must come to a mutual agreement. For example, the agreement is conditional upon Tesla and us mutually agreeing, based on the development schedules of both parties, to a start date for deliveries that is between July 2022 and July 2023 and to the parties agreeing in good faith to an allocation of certain material costs.
We expect to continue to develop a marketing and sales strategy once we have further established a development plan for the Project. Based on historical and current production in the TSB and on markets addressed by producers in North Carolina, we currently anticipate producing spodumene concentrate, certain other lithium byproducts and potentially battery-grade lithium chemicals, which may be used by the global electric vehicle or energy storage markets. We cannot at this time estimate the quality or composition of any ore that may be produced at the Project. As a result, we also cannot estimate the supply, demand or pricing of any products we may produce.
Permitting
During fiscal year 2020 we were granted a Clean Water Act Section 404 Standard Individual Permit from the USACE for our mine/concentrator project. The USACE completed and Environmental Assessment of the project in conjunction with other state and federal agencies based on our December 2018 permit application and our responses to agency and public comments.
We have also received a Clean Water Act Section 401 Individual Water Quality Certification from the North Carolina Division of Water Resources.
Our current drilling exploration activities for the Project are authorized under a general permit approved by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality DEQ in April 2017 and updated in April 2019 and October 2019. We have reclamation obligations under this permit, pursuant to which we will be obligated to reclaim all disturbed drill pads and temporary roads to the approximate original contours, and will seed with grass and straw to stabilize any disturbances. We generally are required to effect such reclamation within 14 days following exploration drilling.
Prior to developing or mining any mineralization that we discover, we will be required to obtain new governmental permits authorizing, among other things, any mine development activities and mine operating activities. Obtaining and renewing governmental permits is a complex and time-consuming process and involves numerous jurisdictions. public hearings and possibly costly undertakings. The timeliness and success of permitting efforts are contingent upon many variables not within our control, including the interpretation of permit approval requirements administered by the applicable permitting authority. We may not be able to obtain or renew permits that are necessary to our planned operations or the cost and time required to obtain or renew such permits may exceed our expectations. Any unexpected delays or costs associated with the permitting process could delay the exploration, development or operation of our properties. See “Risk Factors—We will be required to obtain governmental permits in order to conduct development and mining operations, a process which is often costly and time-consuming.”
Specialized Skill and Knowledge
We rely on specialized skills and knowledge to gather, interpret and process geological and geophysical data, successfully permit and then design, build and operate extraction facilities and numerous additional activities
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required to extract lithium. We expect to employ a strategy of contracting consultants and other service providers to supplement the skills and knowledge of our permanent staff in order to provide the specialized skills and knowledge to undertake our lithium operations effectively.
Competition
We compete with other mining and exploration companies, many of which possess greater financial resources and technical facilities than we do, in connection with the acquisition of suitable exploration properties and in connection with the engagement of qualified personnel. The lithium exploration and mining industry is fragmented, and we are a very small participant in this sector. Many of our competitors explore for a variety of minerals and control many different properties around the world. Many of them have been in business longer than we have and have established more strategic partnerships and relationships and have greater financial accessibility than we have.
While we compete with other exploration companies in acquiring suitable properties, we believe that there would be readily available purchasers of lithium and other precious metals if they were to be produced from any of our leased properties. The price of precious metals can be affected by a number of factors beyond our control, including:
fluctuations in the market prices for lithium;
fluctuating supplies of lithium;
fluctuating demand for lithium; and
mining activities of others.
If lithium mineralization that is determined to be of economic grade and in sufficient quantity to justify production were located, additional capital would be required to develop, mine and sell our production.
Government Regulations
Overview
Our exploration operations at the Project are subject to extensive laws and regulations, which are overseen and enforced by multiple U.S. federal, state and local authorities. These laws govern exploration, development, production, exports, various taxes, labor standards, occupational health and safety, waste disposal, protection and remediation of the environment, protection of endangered and protected species and other matters. Mineral exploration operations are also subject to U.S. federal and state laws and regulations that seek to maintain health and safety standards by regulating the design and use of drilling methods and equipment. Various permits from government bodies are required for drilling operations to be conducted, and we cannot assure you such permits will be received. Environmental laws and regulations may also, among other things:
require notice to stakeholders of proposed and ongoing operations;
require the installation of pollution control equipment;
restrict the types, quantities and concentration of various substances that can be released into the environment in connection with mining or drilling activities;
limit or prohibit mining or drilling activities on lands located within wetlands, areas inhabited by endangered species and other protected areas, or otherwise restrict or prohibit activities that could impact the environment, including water resources;
impose substantial liabilities for pollution resulting from current or former operations on or for any preexisting environmental impacts at the Project site; and
require preparation of an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement.
As of the date hereof, other than with respect to the acquisition of the Project and related permitting activities, we have not been required to spend material amounts on compliance with environmental regulations. However, compliance with these laws and regulations may impose substantial costs on us, subject us to significant potential liabilities, and have an adverse effect upon our capital expenditures, results of operations or competitive position. Violations and liabilities with respect to these laws and regulations could result in significant administrative,
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civil, or criminal penalties, remedial clean-ups, natural resource damages, permit modifications or revocations, operational interruptions or shutdowns and other liabilities. The costs of remedying such conditions may be significant, and remediation obligations could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, Congress and federal and state agencies frequently revise environmental laws and regulations, and any changes in these regulations or the interpretations thereof could require us to expend significant resources to comply with new laws or regulations or changes to current requirements and could have a material adverse effect on our business operations.
U.S. Legal Framework
The Project will be required to comply with applicable environmental protection laws and regulations and licensing and permitting requirements. The material environmental, health and safety laws and regulations that we must comply with include, among others, the following United States federal laws and regulations:
National Environmental Protection Act (“NEPA”), which requires careful evaluation of the environmental impacts of mining operations that require federal approvals;
Clean Air Act (“CAA”) and its amendments, which governs air emissions;
Clean Water Act (“CWA”), which governs discharges to and excavations within the waters of the United States;
Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”), which governs the underground injection and disposal of wastewater;
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), which governs the management of solid waste;
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), which imposes liability where hazardous substances have been released into the environment (commonly known as Superfund); and
Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, which established the primary safety and health standards regarding working conditions of employees engaged in mining, related operations, and preparation and milling of the minerals extracted, as well as the Occupation Safety and Health Act, which regulates the protection of the health and safety of workers to the extent such protection is not already addressed by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.
Our operations may also be subject to state environmental law and regulations, including but not limited to laws and regulations related to the reclamation of mined lands, which may require reclamation permits to be acquired prior to the commencement of mining operations and may require substantial financial guarantees to cover the cost of future reclamation activities.
Solid and Hazardous Waste
RCRA, and comparable state statutes, affect our operations by imposing regulations on the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, disposal and cleanup of hazardous wastes and on the disposal of non-hazardous wastes. Under the auspices of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the individual states administer some or all of the provisions of RCRA, sometimes in conjunction with their own, more stringent requirements.
In addition, the federal Superfund law can impose joint and several liability without regard to fault or legality of conduct on classes of persons who are statutorily responsible for the release of a hazardous substance into the environment. These persons can include the current and former owners, lessees or operators of a site where a release occurs, and anyone who disposes or arranges for the disposal of a hazardous substance. Under CERCLA, such persons may be subject to strict, joint and several liability for the entire cost of cleaning up hazardous substances that have been released into the environment and for other costs, including response costs, alternative water supplies, damage to natural resources and for the costs of certain health studies. Moreover, it is not uncommon for neighboring landowners, workers and other third parties to file claims for personal injury and property damage allegedly caused by hazardous substances released into the indoor or outdoor environment. Each state also has environmental cleanup laws analogous to CERCLA. Hazardous wastes may have been previously handled, disposed of, or released on or under properties currently or formerly owned or leased by us or on or
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under other locations to which we sent waste for disposal. These properties and any materials disposed or released on them may subject us to liability under CERCLA, RCRA and analogous state laws. Under such laws, we could be required to remove or remediate disposed wastes or property contamination, to contribute to remediation costs, or to perform remedial activities to prevent future environmental harm.
Air Emissions
The federal CAA and comparable state laws restrict the emission of air pollutants from numerous sources through the issuance of permits and the imposition of other requirements. Major sources of air pollutants are subject to more stringent, federally imposed permitting requirements. Air pollution regulations may require us to obtain pre-approval for the construction or modification of certain projects or facilities expected to produce or significantly increase air emissions, obtain air permits and comply with stringent permit requirements or utilize specific equipment or technologies to control emissions of certain pollutants. The need to obtain permits has the potential to delay our operations, and we may be required to incur capital expenditures for air pollution control equipment or other air emissions related obligations. Administrative enforcement actions for failure to comply strictly with air pollution regulations or permits are generally resolved by payment of monetary fines and correction of any identified deficiencies. Alternatively, regulatory agencies could require us to forego construction, modification or operation of certain air emission sources.
Clean Water Act
The CWA imposes restrictions and strict controls regarding the discharge of wastes, including mineral processing wastes, into waters of the United States, a term broadly defined to include, among other things, certain wetlands. Permits must be obtained to discharge pollutants into federal waters. The CWA provides for civil, criminal and administrative penalties for unauthorized discharges, both routine and accidental, of pollutants. It imposes substantial potential liability for the costs of removal or remediation associated with discharges of oil or hazardous substances. State laws governing discharges to water also provide varying civil, criminal and administrative penalties, and impose liabilities in the case of a discharge of petroleum or its derivatives, or other hazardous substances, into state waters. In addition, the EPA has promulgated regulations that require permits to discharge storm water runoff, including discharges associated with construction activities. In the event of an unauthorized discharge of wastes, we may be liable for penalties and costs.
Pursuant to these laws and regulations, we may also be required to develop and implement spill prevention, control and countermeasure plans, also referred to as “SPCC plans,” in connection with on-site storage of significant quantities of oil. Some states also maintain groundwater protection programs that require permits for discharges or operations that may impact groundwater conditions. The CWA also prohibits the discharge of fill materials to regulated waters including wetlands without a permit from the USACE.
In May 2015, the EPA issued a final rule that attempted to clarify the federal jurisdictional reach over waters of the United States, but the agency repealed this rule in September 2019 and replaced it with the Navigable Water Protection Rule in April 2020, which narrowed federal jurisdictional reach relative to the 2015 rule. The repeal and replacement of the 2015 rule is currently subject to litigation and the scope of the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act may therefore remain uncertain for several years, with a patchwork of legal guidelines applicable to various states potentially developing. We could face increased costs and delays with respect to obtaining permits for dredge and fill activities in wetland areas to the extent they are required.
Underground Injection Control Permits
The federal SDWA creates a nationwide regulatory program protecting groundwater. This act is administered by the EPA. However, to avoid the burden of dual federal and state (or Indian tribal) regulation, the SDWA allows for the Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) permits issued by states (and Indian tribes determined eligible for treatment as states) to satisfy the UIC permit required under the SDWA under two conditions. First, the state’s program must have been granted primacy. Second, the EPA must have granted, upon request by the state, an aquifer exemption. The EPA may delay or decline to process the state’s application if the EPA questions the state’s jurisdiction over the mine site. Permits must be obtained before developing and using deep injection wells for the disposal or storage of produced fluids, and well casing integrity monitoring must be conducted periodically to ensure the well casing is not leaking produced fluids to groundwater. Contamination of groundwater by natural gas and oil drilling, production and related operations may result in fines, penalties,
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remediation costs and natural resource damages, among other sanctions and liabilities under the SDWA and other federal and state laws. In addition, third-party claims may be filed by landowners and other parties claiming damages for groundwater contamination, alternative water supplies, property impacts and bodily injury.
NEPA
NEPA requires federal agencies to evaluate major agency actions having the potential to significantly impact the environment. The NEPA process involves public input through comments which can alter the nature of a proposed project either by limiting the scope of the project or requiring resource-specific mitigation. NEPA decisions can be appealed through the court system by process participants. This process may result in delaying the permitting and development of projects or increase the costs of permitting and developing some facilities.
Endangered Species Act
The federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) restricts activities that may affect endangered and threatened species or their habitats. Some of our operations may be located in areas that are designated as habitats for endangered or threatened species. A critical habitat designation could result in further material restrictions to federal and private land use and could delay or prohibit land access or development. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service continues its effort to make listing decisions and critical habitat designations where necessary. The ESA has not previously had a significant impact on our operations. However, the designation of previously unprotected species as being endangered or threatened could cause us to incur additional costs or become subject to operating restrictions in areas where the species are known to exist.
C.
Organizational Structure
Piedmont Lithium Limited is principally a holding company, with two wholly-owned subsidiaries. Our two subsidiaries, Piedmont Lithium, Inc. and Gaston Land Company, LLC, are a North Carolina corporation and a North Carolina limited liability company, respectively, that hold directly our interests in the Project.
D.
Property, Plants and Equipment
Assets
Our principal asset is the Project in North Carolina, United States.
Development Plans
Following completion of our Expanded Scoping Study on the Project, we will continue to work towards securing the necessary permits and approvals required for the construction and operation of the Project. We will continue with our Phase 4 drill campaign and continue to expand our land position within the TSB. We plan to continue with additional testwork for the conversion of spodumene concentrate from our ore to lithium hydroxide and to potentially undertake future pilot plant level testwork for spodumene concentrate production. Following completion of additional drilling, and dependent on permits, market conditions, and other factors, we may elect to undertake a DFS to define a lithium reserve base. Following the completion of all technical studies and all necessary permitting activities, we may undertake mining and lithium processing activities to produce a highly strategic, U.S. domestic source of lithium to supply the increasing electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
ITEM 4A.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
Not applicable.
ITEM 5.
OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F. The following discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, estimates and beliefs. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F, particularly those in the section of this annual report on Form 20-F entitled “Risk Factors.” The consolidated general purpose financial statements of the consolidated group have been prepared in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB.
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The IASB sets out accounting policies that it has concluded would result in a financial report containing relevant and reliable information about transactions, events and conditions. Material accounting policies adopted in the preparation of this financial report are presented below and have been consistently applied unless otherwise stated.
Our financial statements for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are presented in U.S. dollars.
Business Strategy
Subject to market conditions and the ability to define an economically viable project, our business plan for the Project is to become a highly strategic, U.S. domestic source of lithium to supply the increasing electric vehicle and battery storage markets. We plan to effect our business plan by:
completing additional drilling programs on our properties to expand the current Mineral Resource estimate and increase the geological confidence of the Mineral Resource estimate;
continuing to secure additional properties within the TSB to undertake additional exploration;
undertaking further technical studies to assess the economic potential of the Project and defining a lithium reserve base, including further metallurgical studies and feasibility studies;
undertaking discussions with potential lithium offtake parties for future sale of lithium products;
completing required permitting and zoning activities required to commence mining and processing operations at the Project;
completing required financing activities;
completing construction of Piedmont’s lithium mining and processing activities; and
beginning lithium mining and processing activities to supply electric vehicle and battery storage markets.
A.
Operating Results
Summary
The following table sets forth our selected financial information for the periods indicated:
 
Fiscal 2018
Fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2020
Consolidated Statements of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income
 
 
 
Exploration and evaluation expenses
$(6,021,506)
$(7,107,146)
$(3,563,437)
Corporate and administrative expenses
(1,160,608)
(1,711,475)
(1,514,519)
Business development expenses
(1,207,907)
(928,097)
(941,399)
Share based payments
(1,172,164)
(438,375)
(470,939)
Foreign stock exchange listing expenses
(580,922)
Finance income
132,752
128,377
215,549
Finance costs
(157,271)
Other income/(expenses)
52,538
234,090
760,917
Loss for the year
(9,957,817)
(9,822,626)
(5,671,099)
Other comprehensive income/(loss)
(249,205)
(366,083)
(499,399)
Total comprehensive loss
(10,207,022)
(10,188,709)
(6,170,498)
 
Fiscal 2018
Fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2020
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
 
 
 
Net cash flow used in operating activities
$(7,581,996)
$(9,809,812)
$(6,975,428)
Net cash flow used in investing activities
(602,180)
(1,552,511)
(3,417,255)
Net cash flow from financing activities
11,833,809
8,321,894
24,684,187
Increase/(decrease) in cash and cash equivalents
3,649,633
(3,040,429)
14,291,504
Income
 
Fiscal 2018
Fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2020
Finance income
$132,752
$128,377
$215,549
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Because we are an exploration stage company, we had no revenue from sales.
Interest income for fiscal 2020 was $215,549, which is higher than $128,377 in fiscal 2019 and $132,752 in fiscal 2018 principally as a result of larger average cash and cash equivalent balances in fiscal 2020.
Expenses
 
Fiscal 2018
Fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2020
Exploration and evaluation expenses
$(6,021,506)
$(7,107,146)
$(3,563,437)
Corporate and administrative expenses
(1,160,608)
(1,711,475)
(1,514,519)
Business development expenses
(1,207,907)
(928,097)
(941,399)
Share based payments
(1,172,164)
(438,375)
(470,939)
Foreign stock exchange listing expenses
(580,922)
Finance costs
(157,271)
Exploration and evaluation expenses. Exploration and evaluation expenses include drilling and sampling costs, technical and engineering studies, permitting costs and overhead costs associated with the exploration and evaluation of the Project, such as maintaining our exploration headquarters and other fees for professional services and legal compliance. Expenditures on exploration and evaluation incurred by us are expensed as incurred up and until the completion of a DFS (other than costs associated with acquiring the exploration properties, which are capitalized). Costs associated with the acquisition and maintenance of exploration rights are capitalized, rather than expensed.
Corporate and administrative expenses. Corporate and administrative expenses include overhead costs, such as maintaining our corporate headquarters, public company costs, audit and other fees for professional services and legal compliance.
Business development expenses. Business development expenses are comprised of investor relations expenses, including costs for press releases, maintenance of the Company’s website and other investor marketing and information initiatives, and other fees for corporate advisory services.
Share-based payment expense. We expense the value of share-based payment remuneration, including employee options and rights granted to employees and consultants, over the period during which the employees and consultants perform the related services and become entitled to the incentive securities. We measure the cost of equity-settled transactions with employees and consultants by reference to the fair value of the equity instruments at the date at which they are granted. The fair value is determined using a Black-Scholes model.
Foreign stock exchange listing expenses. In fiscal 2018, our ADSs were approved for listing on Nasdaq and trading commenced in the United States. We expensed the costs of such listing in fiscal 2018.
Comparison of the fiscal years 2020 and 2019
Our net loss for fiscal 2020 and 2019 was $5.7 million and $9.8 million, respectively. Significant items contributing to the current year loss and the differences from the previous financial year include:
exploration and evaluation expenses of $3.6 million and $7.1 million in fiscal 2020 and 2019, respectively. This decrease resulted principally from our reduced drilling activities on the Project following completion of our Phase 4 drilling program;
corporate and administrative expenses of $1.5 million and $1.7 million in fiscal 2020 and 2019, respectively. This decrease resulted principally from reduced overheads to support our reduced drilling activities on the Project following completion of our Phase 4 drilling program, as described in further detail above;
business development expenses of $0.9 million and $0.9 million in fiscal 2020 and 2019, respectively. The nature and level of business development activity remained largely consistent between both financial years; and
share-based payment expenses of $0.5 million and $0.4 million in fiscal 2020 and 2019, respectively. The nature and level of share-based payment expenses remained largely consistent between both financial years.
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Comparison of the fiscal years 2019 and 2018
Our net loss for fiscal 2019 and 2018 was $9.8 million and $10.0 million, respectively. Significant items contributing to the current year loss and the differences from the previous financial year include:
exploration and evaluation expenses of $7.1 million and $6.0 million in fiscal 2019 and 2018, respectively. This increase resulted principally from our increased exploration and appraisal activities on the Project, including the Phase 4 drilling program, additional metallurgical test work, and additional technical studies;
corporate and administrative expenses of $1.7 million and $1.2 million in fiscal 2019 and 2018, respectively. This increase resulted principally from increased hiring and overheads to support our increased exploration and appraisal activities on the Project, as described in further detail above;
business development expenses of $0.9 million and $1.2 million in fiscal 2019 and 2018, respectively. The nature and level of business development activity remained largely consistent between both financial years;
share-based payment expenses of $0.4 million and $1.2 million in fiscal 2019 and 2018, respectively. This decrease resulted principally because no new key management personnel (“KMP”) were appointed during fiscal 2019, compared to six (6) new KMP being appointed in fiscal 2018 (Mr. Keith Phillips, Mr. Jorge Beristain, Mr. Jeffrey Armstrong, Mr. Patrick Brindle, Mr. David Buckley and Mr. Bruce Czachor) and the associated grant of incentive securities to secure the services of the new KMP during fiscal 2018; and
foreign stock exchange initial listing expenses of $0.0 million and $0.6 million in fiscal 2019 and 2018, respectively, relating to our listing in the United States which occurred in May 2018, following which no further initial listing expenses were incurred.
Historical Sources and Uses of Cash
The following is a summary of cash provided by or used in each of the indicated types of activities:
 
Fiscal 2018
Fiscal 2019
Fiscal 2020
Consolidated Statement of Cash Flow data:
 
 
 
Net cash flow used in operating activities
$(7,581,996)
$(9,809,812)
$(6,975,428)
Net cash flow used in investing activities
(602,180)
(1,552,511)
(3,417,255)
Net cash flow from financing activities
11,833,809
8,321,894
24,684,187
Net change in cash and cash equivalents
3,649,633
(3,040,429)
14,291,504
Net foreign exchange differences
52,538
234,090
133,434
Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of the year
3,536,318
7,238,489
4,432,150
Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the year
7,238,489
4,432,150
18,857,088
Operating Activities
Net cash used in operating activities for each of the above periods was primarily the result of net losses incurred in preparing us for operations. Net cash used in operating activities was $7.6 million, $9.8 million and $7.0 million for fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The decrease in the net cash outflow from operating activities between fiscal 2019 and 2020 resulted primarily from our reduced drilling activities on the Project following completion of our Phase 4 drilling program. The increase in the net cash outflow from operating activities between fiscal 2018 and 2019 resulted primarily from our increased exploration and appraisal activities on the Project, including the Phase 4 drilling program, additional metallurgical test work, and additional technical studies.
Investing Activities
Net cash used in investing activities was $0.6 million, $1.6 million and $3.4 million for fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The increase in the net cash outflow arising from investing activities between fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020 resulted primarily from purchases of exploration assets increasing by $1.2 million in fiscal 2020 relating to increased land acquisition and land option payments to landowners to secure additional exploration
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properties in the TSB. The increase in the net cash outflow arising from investing activities between fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 resulted primarily from purchases of exploration assets increasing by $1.0 million in fiscal 2019 relating to increased land acquisition and land option payments to landowners to secure additional exploration properties in the TSB.
Financing Activities
Net cash inflow arising from financing activities was $24.7 million for fiscal 2020, which was primarily attributable to a U.S. public offering of 2.1 million ADSs at an issue price of US$6.30 per ADS to raise gross proceeds of US$12.9 million during fiscal 2020. Net cash inflow arising from financing activities was $8.3 million for fiscal 2019, which was primarily attributable to a private placement of 111 million ordinary shares at an issue price of A$0.11 per share to raise gross proceeds of A$12.2 million during fiscal 2019. Net cash inflow arising from financing activities was $11.8 million for fiscal 2018, which was primarily attributable to a major capital raising during fiscal 2018, consisting of a private placement of 100 million ordinary shares at a price of A$0.16 per share to raise gross proceeds of $12.3 million.
B.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
In fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020, we incurred a loss of $10.0 million, $9.8 million and $5.7 million, respectively, and had accumulated losses of $51.4 million as of June 30, 2020. We have not yet commenced commercial production at any of our properties and expect to continue to incur losses during the exploration, evaluation, and development of the Project.
Our operations have been financed by proceeds primarily from issuances of ordinary shares. Our cash and cash equivalent position at June 30, 2020 was $18.9 million, compared to $4.4 million as at June 30, 2019. We had net working capital of $17.3 million on June 30, 2020, as compared to $2.3 million on June 30, 2019.
Subsequent to the end of fiscal 2020, we completed a private placement of 120,000,000 fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of A$0.09 per share to non-U.S. institutional and sophisticated shareholders to raise additional gross proceeds of A$10.8 million.
Our cash and cash equivalent position at June 30, 2019 was $4.4 million, compared to $7.2 million as at June 30, 2018. We had net working capital of $2.3 million on June 30, 2019, as compared to $5.3 million on June 30, 2018.
Operating Capital Requirements
Our primary use of cash currently comprises exploration and evaluation expenditures relating to the Project and for ongoing operating expenses. Our exploration and evaluation expenditures for fiscal 2020 were lower than fiscal 2019 as a result of our reduced drilling activities on the Project following completion of our Phase 4 drilling program. We are currently considering what additional exploration and evaluation activities we will undertake in the future. Based on our current financial position, we expect to have sufficient cash flow to operate for the next 12 months and to maintain adequate liquidity to satisfy working capital requirements.
Until we have completed a bankable feasibility study for the Project, we are not able to say if or when we will decide to develop the Project. If we do decide to develop the Project, this will require substantial additional funds, which would require future debt or equity financings.
Capital Expenditures and Requirements
Our cash capital expenditures for fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020 amounted to $0.6 million, $1.5 million and $3.4 million, respectively. Our expenditures for the fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020 related to land option payments and land acquisition payments to local landowners in the TSB for rights to surface property and the associated mineral rights from the local landowners, comprising the Project. These option and acquisition payments have been treated as acquisition costs and capitalized as exploration and evaluation assets.
We expense all other exploration and evaluation expenditures when incurred (other than expenditures incurred in the acquisition of the rights to explore, including option payments to landowners).
If we ultimately make a decision to develop the Project, this will require substantial additional funds, which would require future debt or equity financings.
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Future Financings
We may decide to pursue additional debt or equity financing activities to facilitate further exploration, evaluation and development activities at the Project and to fund working capital and our corporate operations. We expect that such financing will result in additional sales or issuances of our ordinary shares or ADSs, but we also may engage in debt financing.
If we complete a DFS for the Project and ultimately make a decision to develop the Project, this will require substantial additional funds, which would require future debt or equity financings.
If we decide to raise capital by issuing equity securities, the issuance of additional ordinary shares or ADSs would result in dilution to our existing shareholders. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in completing any financings or that any such equity or debt financing will be available to us if and when required or on satisfactory terms.
C.
Research and Development, Patents and Licenses
Not Applicable.
D.
Trend Information
See Item 4, Item 5.A and Item 5.B.
E.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements.
F.
Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations
The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of June 30, 2020:
 
Total
Less than
1 year
1–5 years
Thereafter
Contractual obligations
 
 
 
 
Loans and borrowings
$2,771,412
$777,424
$1,993,988
$—
Lease liabilities
307,134
156,621
150,513
 
3,078,546
934,045
2,144,501
G.
Safe Harbor
This annual report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Certain information included or incorporated by reference in this annual report on Form 20-F may be deemed to be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking statements concern our anticipated results and progress of our operations in future periods, planned exploration and, if warranted, development of our properties, plans related to our business and other matters that may occur in the future. These statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable and assumptions of management. All statements contained herein that are not clearly historical in nature are forward-looking, and the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “expect,” “estimate,” “may,” “will,” “could,” “leading,” “intend,” “contemplate,” “shall” and similar expressions are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause actual events or results to differ from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this annual report on Form 20-F include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to:
risks related to our operations being further disrupted, and our financial results being adversely affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic;
risks related to our limited operating history in the lithium industry;
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risks related to our status as an exploration stage company;
risks related to our ability to identify lithium mineralization and achieve commercial lithium mining at the Project;
risks related to mining, exploration and mine construction, if warranted, on our properties;
risks related to our ability to achieve and maintain profitability and to develop positive cash flow from our mining activities;
risks related to investment risk and operational costs associated with our exploration activities;
risks related to our ability to access capital and the financial markets;
risks related to compliance with government regulations;
risks related to our ability to acquire necessary mining licenses, permits or access rights;
risks related to environmental liabilities and reclamation costs;
risks related to volatility in lithium prices or demand for lithium;
risks related to our stock price and trading volume volatility;
risks relating to the development of an active trading market for our ADSs;
risks related to ADS holders not having certain shareholder rights;
risks related to ADS holders not receiving certain distributions; and
risks related to our status as a foreign private issuer and emerging growth company.
All forward-looking statements reflect our beliefs and assumptions based on information available at the time the assumption was made. These forward-looking statements are not based on historical facts but rather on management’s expectations regarding future activities, results of operations, performance, future capital and other expenditures (including the amount, nature and sources of funding thereof), competitive advantages, business prospects and opportunities. By its nature, forward-looking information involves numerous assumptions, inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, known and unknown, that contribute to the possibility that the predictions, forecasts, projections or other forward-looking statements will not occur. Although we have attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. Except as otherwise required by the securities laws of the United States and Australia, we disclaim any obligation to subsequently revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events. We qualify all the forward-looking statements contained in this annual report on Form 20-F by the foregoing cautionary statements.
Critical Accounting Estimates
The preparation of our financial statements in conformity with IFRS requires management to make judgements, estimates and assumptions that affect the application of accounting policies and the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Actual results may differ from these estimates. The estimates and underlying assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Revisions to accounting estimates are recognized in the period in which the estimate is revised if the revision affects only that period, or in the period of the revision and future periods if the revision affects both current and future periods.
Following are the accounting policies subject to such judgments and the key sources of estimation uncertainty that we believe could have the most significant impact on the reported results and financial position.
Impairment of Exploration and Evaluation Expenditures
Capitalized exploration costs are reviewed each reporting date to establish whether an indication of impairment exists. If any such indication exists, the recoverable amount of the capitalized exploration costs is estimated to determine the extent of the impairment loss, if any. Where an impairment loss subsequently reverses, the carrying
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amount of the asset is increased to the revised estimate of its recoverable amount, but only to the extent that the increased carrying amount does not exceed the carrying amount that would have been determined had no impairment loss been recognized for the asset in previous years. Recoverability of the carrying amount of the exploration and evaluation assets is dependent on successful development and commercial exploitation, or alternatively, sale of the respective areas of interest. During fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Company recognized impairment charges of $0, $0 and $0, respectively.
Tax Losses
Deferred tax assets are recognized for unused tax losses to the extent that it is probable that taxable profit will be available against which the losses can be utilized. Significant judgement is required to determine the amount of deferred tax assets that can be recognized, based upon the likely timing and the level of future taxable profits. Given our history of recent losses, we have not recognized a deferred tax asset with regard to unused tax losses and other temporary differences, as it has not been determined whether we or our subsidiaries will generate sufficient taxable income against which the unused tax losses and other temporary differences can be utilized. Further, the availability of tax losses is subject to Australian continuity of ownership and same business tests. Should we continue to obtain funding from new shareholders we may not comply with continuity of ownership regulations for tax losses effected by this regulation.
Share Based Payments
Equity-settled share-based payments are provided to officers, employees, consultants and other advisors. These share-based payments are measured at the fair value of the equity instrument at the grant date. Fair value of share options is determined using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, taking into account the terms and conditions upon which the instruments were granted and are disclosed in Note 17 to the audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this annual report.
Estimating fair value for share-based payment transactions requires determination of the most appropriate valuation model, which depends on the terms and conditions of the grant. This estimate also requires determination of the most appropriate inputs to the valuation model including the expected life of the share option, volatility, dividend yield and risk-free interest rate and making assumptions about them.
Changes to these inputs would impact the consequent valuation for each equity instrument valued in this manner, and consequently the value of each grant would vary in a different manner depending on the change to the respective inputs.
The fair value determined at the grant date is expensed on a straight-line basis over the vesting period, based on our estimate of equity instruments that will eventually vest. At each reporting date, we revise our estimate of the number of equity instruments expected to vest. The impact of the revision of the original estimates, if any, is recognized in profit or loss over the remaining vesting period, with a corresponding adjustment to the share based payments reserve.
Equity-settled share-based payments may also be provided as consideration for the acquisition of assets. Where ordinary shares are issued, the transaction is recorded at fair value based on the quoted price of the ordinary shares at the date of issue. The acquisition is then recorded as an asset or expensed in accordance with accounting standards.
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ITEM 6.
DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES
A.
Directors and Senior Management
The following discussion sets forth information regarding our directors and executive officers as of the date of this annual report on Form 20-F. In accordance with the ASX Listing Rules, a Director (other than the Managing Director) must not hold office, without re-election, past the third annual general meeting following the Director’s appointment or three years, whichever is longer. In addition, under our Constitution, at every annual general meeting, one-third of the Directors (other than the Managing Director), are required to retire from office. Such Directors are entitled to submit for re-election. Provided below is a brief description of our directors’ and executive officers’ business experience during the past five years:
Name
Director or
Officer since
Principal business activities and other
principal directorships
Ian Middlemas,
Chairman
September 2009
Currently Non-Executive Director and Chairman of ASX listed Constellation Resources Limited (since November 2017), Apollo Minerals Limited (since July 2016), Paringa Resources Limited (since October 2013), Berkeley Energia Limited (since April 2012), Prairie Mining Limited (since August 2011), Salt Lake Potash Limited (since January 2010), Equatorial Resources Limited (since November 2009), Sovereign Metals Limited (since July 2006), and Odyssey Energy Limited (since September 2005).
Previously Non-Executive Director and Chairman of ASX listed Cradle Resources Limited (May 2016 to July 2019), Syntonic Limited (April 2010 to June 2017), and Papillon Resources Limited (May 2011 to October 2014).
Keith Phillips,
Managing Director,
President and Chief
Executive Officer
July 2017
No other directorships in listed companies during fiscal 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020.
Anastasios Arima,
Non-Executive Director
October 2016
Previously Director of ASX listed Paringa Resources Limited (October 2013 to June 2017) and Prairie Mining Limited (September 2012 to September 2015).
Jeffrey Armstrong,
Non-Executive Director
August 2018
CEO and Managing Partner of North Inlet Advisors, LLC.
Previously a senior leader in what is now Wells Fargo’s Investment Bank, an investment banker for Citigroup (1994 to 1999), and for Morgan Stanley (1987 to 1994).
Jorge Beristain,
Non-Executive Director
May 2018
Currently Chief Financial Officer of Central Steel & Wire Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ryerson Corp.
Previously Managing Director and Head of Deutsche Bank’s Americas Metals & Mining equity research.
Levi Mochkin,
Non-Executive Director
April 2006
Currently Non-Executive Director of Odyssey Energy Limited (since August 2020).
No other directorships in listed companies during fiscal 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020.
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Name
Director or
Officer since
Principal business activities and other
principal directorships
Gregory Swan, Company
Secretary
October 2012
Currently Chief Financial Officer and/or Company Secretary for several ASX-listed companies that operate in the resources sector, including Paringa Resources Limited (since November 2013) and Equatorial Resources Limited (since May 2010).
Previously Chief Financial Officer and/or Company Secretary for several ASX-listed companies that operate in the resources sector, including Mantra Resources Limited and Papillon Resources Limited.
Ian Middlemas (60 years of age) – Chairman
Mr. Middlemas is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He worked for a large international Chartered Accounting firm before joining the Normandy Mining Group where he was a senior group executive for approximately 10 years. He has had extensive corporate and management experience, and is currently a director with a number of publicly listed companies in the resources sector.
Mr. Middlemas was appointed a Director of the Company on September 14, 2009. During the three-year period to the end of the financial year, Mr. Middlemas has held directorships in Constellation Resources Limited (November 2017 - present), Apollo Minerals Limited (July 2016 - present), Paringa Resources Limited (October 2013 - present), Berkeley Energia Limited (April 2012 - present), Prairie Mining Limited (August 2011 - present), Salt Lake Potash Limited (January 2010 - present), Equatorial Resources Limited (November 2009 - present), Sovereign Metals Limited (July 2006 - present), Odyssey Energy Limited (September 2005 - present) and Cradle Resources Limited (May 2016 - July 2019).
Keith Phillips (60 years of age) – Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Phillips joined Piedmont on July 10, 2017 after a 30-year career on Wall Street during which he has worked on strategic and financing transactions representing over US$100 billion in aggregate value. Mr. Phillips was most recently a Senior Advisor with merchant banker Maxit Capital, after leading the mining investment banking teams for Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, JPMorgan and Dahlman Rose.
Mr. Phillips has worked with numerous mining companies, including many established global leaders, and has dedicated most of the past decade to advising exploration and development-stage companies in achieving their strategic objectives, with a particular focus on obtaining relevance in the United States capital markets. Mr. Phillips received his Master of Business Administration from The University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Commerce from Laurentian University in Canada.
Mr. Phillips was appointed a Director of the Company on July 10, 2017. During the three-year period to the end of the financial year, Mr. Phillips has not held any other directorships in listed companies.
Anastasios (Taso) Arima (36 years of age) – Non-Executive Director
Mr. Arima is a resource company executive with a strong history of identifying company-making resource projects. He has extensive experience in the formation and development of resource projects in North America. Mr. Arima was formerly Executive Director of Paringa Resources Ltd, Coalspur Mines Ltd and Prairie Mining Ltd. Mr. Arima was instrumental in the identification and acquisition of the projects for Piedmont, Paringa and Coalspur, as well as the corporate strategy and marketing of the companies. Mr. Arima began his career as a resources analyst for a Perth based boutique investment banking firm where he specialized in assessing the technical and financial aspects of resource companies and their projects. He has previously worked in the hydrocarbon division at Worley Parsons Limited. He attended the University of Western Australia where he studied a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Engineering.
Mr. Arima was appointed a Director of the Company on October 1, 2016. Mr. Arima served as an Executive Director from October 1, 2016 to January 31, 2020. During the three-year period to the end of the financial year, Mr. Arima has not held any other directorships in listed companies.
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Jeffrey Armstrong (55 years of age) – Non-Executive Director
Mr. Armstrong resides in Charlotte, North Carolina where he is actively engaged in the community and has extensive relationships with major corporations and entrepreneurs alike. He serves as CEO and Managing Partner of North Inlet Advisors, LLC, a firm providing strategic and financial advice to companies on capital formation, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, restructurings, and other corporate transactions. Mr. Armstrong was previously a senior leader in what is now Wells Fargo’s Investment Bank for nearly a decade, where his leadership roles included the Head of Corporate Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Private Equity Coverage and Leveraged Capital groups. Mr. Armstrong also worked as an investment banker for Citigroup from 1994 to 1999, and for Morgan Stanley from 1987 to 1994. Mr. Armstrong graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in finance and marketing from the McIntire School of Commerce and an MBA from the Darden School of Business.
Mr. Armstrong was appointed a Director of the Company on August 1, 2018. During the three-year period to the end of the financial year, Mr. Armstrong has not held any other directorships in listed companies.
Jorge Beristain (51 years of age) – Non-Executive Director
Mr. Beristain is CFO of Central Steel & Wire Co, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ryerson Corp (RYI.N). RYI is North America's second largest Service Center with over 100 locations in the US, Canada and Mexico supplying carbon & stainless steel, aluminum, red metals and semi-fabricated products to the machinery, transport, consumer durables, food processing, construction and energy sectors. Previously Mr. Beristain was Managing Director and Head of Deutsche Bank’s Americas Metals & Mining equity research, where he was consistently ranked by institutional investors as one of the top analysts in the United States. During his over 20-year career on Wall Street, Mr. Beristain has lived and worked in the United States, Latin America and Canada and has visited hundreds of industrial companies worldwide. He is a proven strategic thinker with extensive international experience in the valuation of mining projects and metals operations and downstream metal uses. Mr. Beristain holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Levi Mochkin (59 years of age) – Non-Executive Director
Mr. Mochkin is executive director and key leader of the Ledger Holdings Pty Ltd Group (the Ledger Group), located in Melbourne, Australia. Mr. Mochkin has been in the resources sector for over 28 years advising companies, identifying projects and raising capital of over A$800 million for mining projects.
Mr. Mochkin was appointed a Director on April 3, 2006. During the three-year period to the end of the financial year, Mr. Mochkin has not held any other directorships in listed companies.
Gregory Swan (39 years of age) – Company Secretary
Mr. Swan is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Secretary and is currently Company Secretary and Chief Financial Officer for several listed companies that operate in the resources sector. He commenced his career at a large international Chartered Accounting firm and has since been involved with a number of exploration and development companies, including Mantra Resources Limited and Papillon Resources Limited.
Mr. Swan was appointed Company Secretary of the Company on October 31, 2012.
Family Relationships
There are no family relationships between any members of our executive management and our directors.
Arrangements for Election of Directors and Members of Management
There are no contracts or other arrangements pursuant to which directors have been or must be selected.
B.
Compensation
Overview
Our remuneration policy for our KMP has been developed by our Board of Directors (the “Board”), taking into account the size of the Company, the size of the management team for the Company, the nature and stage of development of the Company’s current operations, and market conditions and comparable salary levels for companies of a similar size and operating in similar sectors.
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In addition to considering the above general factors, the Board has also placed emphasis on the following specific issues in determining the remuneration policy for KMP:
we are currently focused on identifying and acquiring suitable resource projects and undertaking exploration, appraisal and development activities;
risks associated with small cap resource companies whilst exploring and developing projects; and
other than profit which may be generated from asset sales, we do not expect to be undertaking profitable operations until sometime after the commencement of commercial production on any of its projects.
Executive Remuneration
Our remuneration policy is to provide a fixed remuneration component and a performance based component (short term incentive and long-term incentive). The Board believes that this remuneration policy is appropriate given the considerations discussed in the section above and is appropriate in aligning executives’ objectives with shareholder and business objectives.
Fixed Remuneration
Fixed remuneration consists of base salaries, as well as employer 401(k) contributions or contributions to superannuation funds and other non-cash benefits. Non-cash benefits may include provision of motor vehicles, rental allowance, health care benefits, health insurance, and life insurance.
Fixed remuneration is reviewed annually by the Board. The process consists of a review of company and individual performance, relevant comparative remuneration externally and internally and, where appropriate, external advice on policies and practices.
Performance Based Remuneration - Short Term Incentives
Some executives are entitled to an annual cash bonus upon achieving various key performance indicators (“KPIs”) as set by the Board. Having regard to the current size, nature and opportunities of the Company, the Board has determined that these KPIs will include measures such as successful completion of the acquisition of new projects, exploration activities (e.g. completion of exploration programs within budgeted timeframes and costs), development activities (e.g. completion of scoping and/or feasibility studies), corporate activities (e.g. recruitment of key personnel) and business development activities (e.g. project acquisitions and capital raisings). Prior to the end of each financial year, the Board assesses performance against these criteria.
During the 2020 financial year, a total discretionary bonus sum of US$179,167 (2019: US$275,000) was paid to executives after achievement of KPIs set by the Board. For the 2020 year, the KPI areas of focus included: (a) completion of successful exploration activities; (b) completion of successful development activities; and (c) completion of successful corporate activities. Specific KPIs are set and weighted individually for each KMP and are designed to drive successful business outcomes. For the 2020 year, the CEO’s KPI areas of focus were weighted as follows: (a) 30% weighted to completion of successful exploration activities; (b) 30% weighted to completion of successful development activities; and (c) 40% weighted to completion of successful corporate activities.
Performance Based Remuneration - Long Term Incentives
We have a long-term incentive plan (“LTIP”) comprising the grant of Performance Rights and/or Incentive Options to reward KMP and key employees and contractors for long-term performance.
To achieve its corporate objectives, we need to attract, incentivize, and retain its key employees and contractors. The Board believes that grants of Performance Rights and/or Incentive Options to KMP will provide a useful tool to underpin our employment and engagement strategy.
(i)
Performance Rights
We have a Performance Rights Plan (the “Plan”) that provides for the issuance of unlisted performance share rights, or Performance Rights, which, upon satisfaction of the relevant performance conditions attached to the Performance Rights, will result in the issue of an ordinary share for each Performance Right. Performance Rights are issued for no consideration and no amount is payable upon conversion thereof.
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The Plan enables us to: (a) recruit, incentivize and retain KMP and other key employees and contractors needed to achieve our business objectives; (b) link the reward of key staff with the achievement of strategic goals and the long-term performance of the Company; (c) align the financial interest of participants of the Plan with those of shareholders; and (d) provide incentives to participants of the Plan to focus on superior performance that creates shareholder value.
Performance Rights granted under the Plan to eligible participants will be linked to the achievement by the Company of certain performance conditions as determined by the Board from time to time. These performance conditions must be satisfied in order for the Performance Rights to vest. Upon Performance Rights vesting, ordinary shares are automatically issued for no consideration. If a performance condition of a Performance Right is not achieved by the expiry date then the Performance Right will lapse.
During the financial year, 7,500,000 Performance Rights were granted to executives. 2,500,000 Performance Rights held by executives converted into ordinary shares during the financial year. No Performance Rights held by executives lapsed during the financial year.
(ii)
Incentive Options
We have also chosen to grant unlisted incentive options (“Incentive Options”) to some KMP and key employees and contractors as part of their remuneration and incentive arrangements in order to attract and retain their services and to provide an incentive linked to the performance of the Company.
The Board’s policy is to grant Incentive Options to KMP with exercise prices at or above market share price (at the time of agreement). As such, the Incentive Options granted to KMP are generally only of benefit if the KMP performs to the level whereby the value of the Company increases sufficiently to warrant exercising the Incentive Options granted.
Other than service-based vesting conditions (if any) and the exercise price required to exercise the Incentive Options, there are no additional performance criteria on the Incentive Options granted to KMP, as given the speculative nature of the Company’s activities and the small management team responsible for its running, it is considered that the performance of the KMP and the performance and value of the Company are closely related.
We prohibit executives from entering into arrangements to limit their exposure to Incentive Options granted as part of their remuneration package.
During the financial year, 20,000,000 Incentive Options were granted to executives. 20,500,000 Incentive Options were exercised by executives during the financial year. 10,425,000 Incentive Options held by executives lapsed during the financial year.
Non-Executive Director Remuneration
The Board’s policy is to remunerate Non-Executive Directors at market rates for comparable companies for time, commitment and responsibilities. Given the current size, nature and risks of the Company, Incentive Options have been used to attract and retain Non-Executive Directors, where deemed appropriate. The Board determines payments to the Non-Executive Directors and reviews their remuneration annually, based on market practice, duties and accountability. Independent external advice is sought when required.
The maximum aggregate amount of fees that can be paid to Non-Executive Directors is subject to approval by shareholders at a General Meeting. Director’s fees paid to Non-Executive Directors accrue on a daily basis. Fees for Non-Executive Directors are not linked to the performance of the economic entity. However, to align Directors’ interests with shareholder interests, the Directors are encouraged to hold shares in the Company and Non-Executive Directors may in limited circumstances receive Incentive Options and/or Performance Rights in order to secure their services.
We prohibit Non-Executive Directors from entering into arrangements to limit their exposure to Incentive Options granted as part of their remuneration package.
Fees for the Chairman are presently A$36,000 (approximately US$24,707) per annum. Fees for other Non-Executive Directors are presently set at US$30,000 per annum. These fees cover main board activities only. Non-Executive Directors may receive additional remuneration for other services provided to the Company, including but not limited to, membership of committees.
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Relationship between Remuneration of KMP and Shareholder Wealth
During the Company’s exploration and development phases of its business, the Board anticipates that the Company will retain earnings (if any) and other cash resources for the exploration and development of its resource projects. Accordingly, the Company does not currently have a policy with respect to the payment of dividends and returns of capital. Therefore, there was no relationship between the Board’s policy for determining, or in relation to, the nature and amount of remuneration of KMP and dividends paid and returns of capital by the Company during the current and previous four financial years.
The Board did not determine, and in relation to, the nature and amount of remuneration of the KMP by reference to changes in the price at which shares in the Company traded between the beginning and end of the current and the previous four financial years. Discretionary annual cash bonuses are based upon achieving various non-financial KPI’s that are not based on share price or earnings, such as the successful acquisition of new projects, exploration activities (e.g. completion of exploration programs within budgeted timeframes and costs), development activities (e.g. completion of scoping and/or feasibility studies), corporate activities (e.g. recruitment of key personnel) and business development activities (e.g. project acquisitions and capital raisings). However, as noted above, certain KMP are granted Performance Rights and/or Incentive Options which generally will be of greater value to KMP if the value of the Company’s shares increases (subject to vesting conditions being met).
Relationship between Remuneration of KMP and Earnings
As discussed above, the Company is currently undertaking exploration and development activities, and does not expect to be undertaking profitable operations (other than by way of material asset sales, none of which is currently planned) until sometime after the successful commercialization, production and sales of commodities from one or more of its projects. Accordingly, the Board does not consider earnings during the current and previous four financial years when determining, and in relation to, the nature and amount of remuneration of KMP.
Loans with Key Management Personnel
No loans were provided to or received from KMP during fiscal 2018, 2019 or 2020.
Details of Remuneration for Fiscal 2020
Details of the nature and amount of each element of the emoluments of each of our KMP during fiscal 2020 are as follows:
 
Short-term benefits
Post-
employment
benefits
US$
Termination
benefits
US$
Share-
based
payments
US$
Total
US$
Performance
related
%
 
Salary &
fees
US$
Cash
bonus
US$
Other
US$
Directors
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ian Middlemas
24,169
2,296
26,465
Keith Phillips
250,000
100,000
33,137
8,817
132,274
524,228
44%
Anastasios Arima(1)
146,667
29,167
10,294
23,497
209,625
25%
Jeffrey Armstrong
30,000
23,497
53,497
44%
Jorge Beristain
40,000
23,497
63,497
37%
Levi Mochkin(2)
123,067
3,072
23,497
149,636
16%
Other KMP
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Patrick Brindle
210,000
50,000
29,409
8,400
146,295
444,104
44%
Lamont Leatherman
210,000
61,429
271,429
23%
Austin Devaney(3)
Gregory Swan(4)
17,878
17,878
100%
David Buckley(5)
50,000
13,472
2,600
15,000
81,072
Bruce Czachor(5)
50,000
14,782
2,600
15,000
82,382
 
1,133,903
179,167
101,094
27,785
30,000
451,864
1,923,813
(1)
Effective from February 1, 2020, Mr. Arima receives director fees of US$30,000 per annum and consulting fees of US$70,000 per annum for additional services provided in respect of business development activities.
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(2)
Effective from February 1, 2020, Mr. Mochkin receives director fees of US$30,000 per annum and Ledger Holdings Pty Ltd, a company associated with Mr. Levi Mochkin, receives consulting fees of US$70,000 per annum for additional services provided in respect of business development activities.
(3)
Mr. Devaney was appointed after year end, effective from July 1, 2020.
(4)
Mr. Swan provides services as the Company Secretary through a services agreement with Apollo Group Pty Ltd (“Apollo”). During the year, Apollo was paid or is payable A$180,000 for the provision of serviced office facilities and administrative, accounting and company secretarial services to us.
(5)
Mr. Buckley and Mr. Czachor ceased to be KMP effective December 31, 2019.
Outstanding Equity-Based Awards for Fiscal 2020
Equity based awards for our executive officers consist of options outstanding to purchase ordinary shares and performance rights outstanding that provide the holder to convert each right to a fully paid ordinary share if vesting conditions are met. The following table discloses particulars of all options and performance rights granted to KMP of the Company during fiscal 2020.
 
Equity Based Awards
 
Number of
securities
underlying
awards
Class of
securities
Expiry date
Value of
in-the-
money
awards
(A$)(1)
Directors
 
 
 
 
Mr. Keith Phillips
6,000,000
Options
December 31, 2022
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2020
63,750
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2021
63,750
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2022
63,750
Other KMP
Mr. Patrick Brindle
6,000,000
Options
December 31, 2022
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2020
63,750
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2021
63,750
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2022
63,750
Mr. Lamont Leatherman
6,000,000
Options
December 31, 2022
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2020
63,750
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2021
63,750
 
750,000
Rights
December 31, 2022
63,750
Mr. Gregory Swan
2,000,000
Options
December 31, 2022
 
250,000
Rights
December 31, 2020
21,250
 
250,000
Rights
December 31, 2021
21,250
 
250,000
Rights
December 31, 2022
21,250
(1)
Value is calculated based on the difference between the applicable exercise price and the closing price of shares on the ASX on June 30, 2020 of A$0.085.
Employment Agreements
The key provisions of the employment agreements are set out below for each of our executive officers. None of these employment agreements have termination dates.
Mr. Phillips, President & CEO, has an employment agreement with us which may be terminated for any reason at any time. No amount is payable in the event of termination by us for cause. In the event of termination by us without cause, Mr. Phillips is entitled to receive a payment equal to six months’ salary and continuing benefits for a period of six months. Mr. Phillips receives a fixed remuneration component of US$250,000 per annum and a discretionary annual bonus of up to US$100,000 to be paid upon the successful completion of KPIs as determined by the Board.
Mr. Brindle, Vice President and Project Manager, has an employment agreement with us which may be terminated by either party for any reason at any time. No amount is payable in the event of termination by us for cause. In the event of termination by us without cause, Mr. Brindle is entitled to receive a payment equal to 15% of his then-current base salary and continuing benefits for a period of one month. Mr. Brindle receives a fixed remuneration component of US$210,000 per annum and a discretionary annual bonus of up to US$50,000 to be paid upon the successful completion of KPIs as determined by the Board.
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Mr. Devaney, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, has an employment agreement with us which may be terminated by either party by giving 60 days’ written notice. No amount is payable in the event of termination by us for cause. Effective from July 1, 2020, Mr. Devaney receives a fixed remuneration component of US$200,000 per annum and a discretionary annual bonus of up to US$50,000 to be paid upon the successful completion of KPIs as determined by the Board.
Other Contracts
Mr. Leatherman, Vice President and Chief Geologist, has a consulting agreement with us which may be terminated by either party at any time for any or no reason upon at least two months prior written notice of termination to the other, or payment in lieu thereof. Mr. Leatherman receives a fixed remuneration component of US$210,000 per annum.
Effective from February 1, 2020, Mr. Mochkin receives director fees of US$30,000 per annum and Ledger Holdings Pty Ltd (“Ledger”), a company associated with Mr. Levi Mochkin, receives consulting fees of US$70,000 per annum for additional services provided in respect of business development activities.
Effective from February 1, 2020, Mr. Arima receives director fees of US$30,000 per annum and consulting fees of US$70,000 per annum for additional services provided in respect of business development activities.
All Directors have a letter of appointment confirming the terms and conditions of their appointment as Director of the Company.
In addition, we have entered into Deeds of Indemnity, Insurance and Access with each of the Directors. We have agreed to indemnify each Director against all liabilities incurred while holding office, including indemnifying
Directors for any legal expenses incurred in defending proceedings relating to their Directorship of the Company. Any indemnified amounts must be repaid to the Company to the extent that a Director is reimbursed from an insurance policy maintained by the Company for the Directors. We have also agreed to obtain and pay the premiums for insurance policies for each Director, which may include run-off cover for each Director for a period of seven years after the Director ceases to hold office.
Other than as described above, none of our non-employee directors have any service contracts with us that provide for benefits upon termination of employment.
C.
Board Practices
Our Board currently consists of six members, including our Managing Director. In accordance with the ASX Listing Rules, a Director must not hold office without re-election, past the third annual general meeting following the Director’s appointment or three years, whichever is longer. In addition, under our Constitution, one-third of the Board of Directors retires by rotation at each annual general meeting and is eligible to offer themselves for re-election at that meeting. A director appointed or elected to fill a vacancy on our Board of Directors also holds office until the next annual general meeting. Under the ASX Listing Rules and our Constitution, as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Keith Phillips is not required to retire after three years or by rotation.
We believe that each of our directors has relevant industry experience. The membership of our Board of Directors is directed by the following requirements:
our Constitution specifies that there must be a minimum of three directors and a maximum of 10, and our Board of Directors may determine the number of directors within those limits;
in the event of a conflict of interest or where a potential conflict of interest may arise, involved Directors are expected to, unless the remaining Directors resolve otherwise, withdraw from deliberations concerning the matter;
the Chair of our Board of Directors should be an independent director who satisfies the criteria for independence recommended by the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations; and
our Board of Directors should, collectively, have the appropriate level of personal qualities, skills, experience, and time commitment to properly fulfill its responsibilities or have ready access to such skills where they are not available.
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Our Board of Directors has determined that three of our six directors (Mr. Ian Middlemas, Mr. Jorge Beristain, and Mr. Jeffrey Armstrong) will qualify as independent directors within the meaning of the Nasdaq listing standards.
Service Contracts
Other than as disclosed under “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation—Employment Agreements” we do not have any service contracts with directors which provide for benefits upon termination of employment.
Board Committees
Audit Committee