News Commentary

New York, NY (02/02/2023) – The global industrial salts market is to grow due to technological innovations pertaining to the production of high purity salt such as vacuum pan technology, as well as lower cost production solutions such as conventional mining, solution mining, and solar evaporation. Brine is a major source of industrial salts as it is derived from large saline bodies of water or through solution mining. Additionally, the growing restrictions on mining activities are expected to have a positive impact on the use of brine in the application industries. Brine is majorly used in chemical processing, which is a major application industry, leading to its high demand. Overall, salt mines account for a large market share and are expected to witness growth over the forecast period, owing to rising consumption of rock salt in application industries. And, according to data published by Grand View Research, the global industrial salts market size is estimated to be valued at USD 15.9 Billion by 2025 and expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4%. Atco Mining Inc. (CSE: ATCM), Atlas Salt Inc. (TSX-V: SALT) (OTC: REMRF), Patriot Battery Metals Inc. (TSX-V: PMET) (OTC: PMETF), Vulcan Minerals Inc. (TSX-V: VUL) (OTC: VULMF), Compass Minerals International, Inc. (NYSE: CMP)

Recently, the potential value of salt domes has started to attract attention. A salt dome is a mound or column of salt that has intruded upwards into overlying sediments. Salt domes can form in a sedimentary basin where a thick layer of salt is overlain by younger sediments of significant thickness. Some salt domes have been exploited by underground mining. Some of the mines developed in salt domes have been carefully sealed and then used as storage sites for oil, natural gas, and hydrogen. The Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project aims to build a storage facility for 1,000 megawatts of clean power, partly by putting hydrogen into underground salt caverns. According to a report by CNBC, “Caverns can be created in salt domes by drilling into the salt dome and injecting the rock with water, which dissolves the salt. The resulting brine is extracted, leaving a large cavity. The next step is storing hydrogen in the cavern. Hydrogen electrolyzers can convert water into hydrogen by using renewable energy from solar and other sources. The hydrogen can then be stored and reconverted to electricity when needed.” Now, green hydrogen is being touted as one part of the energy mix that will lead toward decarbonization by 2050. Furthermore, U.S. demand for hydrogen could jump to 22 million to 41 million metric tons per year, up from 10 million today, according to a study released this month by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Atco Mining Inc. (CSE: ATCM) announced last week that, “it has completed its previously announced airborne gravity survey (the “Survey”) on its 100%-owned salt projects, located within the St. George’s Bay Basin in southwestern Newfoundland.

A total of 816 line-kilometers were flown and results are pending. The Company prioritized the coverage of its highest ranked targets. The results of the survey will help the Company assess the district-scale salt potential of the broader St. George’s Bay district, the prospectivity of this area to host different styles of salt deposits, as well as the potential salt dome targets on Atco’s ground.

Given their unique ability to store renewable energy underground in hollowed-out caverns, salt domes are beginning to play an important role in the clean energy transition as evidenced by the Advanced Clean Energy project in Utah anchored by the Delta dome. The U.S. Department of Energy recently issued a conditional commitment backed by up to $504-million (U.S.) in debt financing for what is expected to be the world’s largest industrial green hydrogen production and storage facility located 135 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Neil McCallum, director of Atco, states: ‘The district is seeing a revitalized effort to find new salt dome structures to compliment the proposed large-scale hydrogen production hub. The modern survey will help to confirm and prioritize the historical exploration, much of which was done over four decades ago. That historical information has gravity low features within our project area, and thus suggests the presence of salt dome targets. I am keenly awaiting the results of this survey in the next couple of weeks so that we can incorporate it into our exploration model.’

As stated in the Company’s previous news release dated December 13, 2022, gravity surveying has proven to be an effective tool in the St. George’s Bay Basin and other areas to define potential salt dome structures. For example, Atlas Salt Inc. recently defined an additional potential salt dome next to its Fischell’s Brook Salt Dome deposit using gravity surveying (Atlas Salt news release, dated June 03, 2022).

The Survey consisted of a Falcon® Plus airborne gravity gradiometer (“AGG”) and magnetics survey completed by Xcalibur Multiphysics of Mississauga, Ontario. Falcon® is the world’s only purpose-built AGG system, designed to isolate aircraft motion noise. The Survey was managed and will be interpreted by GroundTruth Exploration (“GroundTruth”) of Dawson City, Yukon. GroundTruth will complete the interpretation of Atco’s survey area in order to define potential salt dome structures that are defined by gravity-low features.”

Atlas Salt Inc. (TSX-V: SALT) (OTCQB: REMRF), 100% owner of North America’s premier undeveloped high-grade salt project, has announced on January 11th, that it is intersected a thick bed of salt in the easternmost drill hole at Great Atlantic. Mr. Rowland Howe, Atlas President, commented: “This step-out drill hole adds an exclamation mark to the work completed to date and further demonstrates the scale of this massive homogeneous deposit that begins at unusually shallow depths compared to operating underground mines in the sector. Great Atlantic has extraordinary advantages, all the attributes to become a state-of-the-art ‘Salt Factory’ and a disruptive asset in the heart of the eastern North America road salt market.”

Patriot Battery Metals Inc. (TSX-V: PMET) (OTCQB: PMETF) announced on January 30th, core assay results for the final ten (10) drill holes completed at the CV5 Pegmatite from its 2022 drill campaign at its wholly owned Corvette Property (the “Property”), located in the James Bay Region of Quebec. The CV5 Pegmatite is located approximately 13.5 km south of the regional and all-weather Trans-Taiga Road and powerline infrastructure and is currently accessible by winter road. Blair Way, Company President, CEO and Director, comments: “The results herein conclude the release of core assays from the 2022 drill campaign at the CV5 Pegmatite and we could not be more thrilled with the results. We have exceeded all of our program objectives, expanding the known mineralized system from a few hundred metres along-strike in 2021, to at least 2.2 km in 2022, remaining open and demonstrating high-grades at both ends.” “We have just recently commenced our 2023 drill campaign and will continue to aggressively delineate what we believe will be a top tier lithium asset globally when fully defined.”

Vulcan Minerals Inc. (TSX-V: VUL) (OTC: VULMF) announced on January 31st, that Atlas Salt Inc. (TSXV: SALT), a related company, has released the results from a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) of its Great Atlantic salt deposit in Western Newfoundland completed by SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd. Patrick Laracy, President commented “The PEA evaluation is very impressive. It is gratifying to have this independent PEA confirm the project’s compelling commercial merits. When considering production rates greater than 2.5 Mtpa and a mine life beyond 30 years, significant additional valuation upside is present. I look forward to the finalization of the feasibility study and the development of this project. Projects of this nature have the potential to be in production in excess of 50 years based on comparable salt mines in North America with all the attendant economic benefits.”

Compass Minerals International, Inc. (NYSE: CMP) has announced consolidated revenue for fourth quarter and fiscal 2022, up 18% and 9% respectively, versus the comparable year-over-year period, driven primarily by strong Salt segment sales volumes. “This was a transformative year for Compass Minerals, in which we took several strategic actions,” said Kevin S. Crutchfield, president and CEO. “Through our efforts to expand our essential minerals portfolio into the adjacent, high-growth markets of lithium and next-generation fire retardants, we are positioning ourselves for growth, reducing our weather dependency and building a foundation for long-term value creation. I am proud of our team for their commitment to safety and relentless focus on execution amid a year of significant headwinds, including ongoing inflationary pressures and sulfate of potash production challenges, which impacted the short-term financial performance of our Salt and Plant Nutrition segments. Our successful North America highway salt bid season has set the stage to improve Salt segment profitability in fiscal 2023.”

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