Pan Asia Li projects Thailand

Unlocking the power of tomorrow: Pan Asia and Anadara discuss the exciting future of lithium

Pan Asia Metals (ASX:PAM) has been on the radar of global boutique financial services firm Viriathus Capital and its funds management division Anadara Asset Management for some time.

In 2021 when the battery and critical metals explorer was tapping investors for cash, Viriathus Capital was retained as lead manager. 

It reprised that role again in January this year when Pan Asia Metals raised $4.5 million through a private placement.

Speaking to Mining.com.au in a wide-ranging interview, Viriathus Capital Managing Director Shaun Cartwright says via Anadara Asset Management, of which he’s also Chief Investment Officer, the firm has been excited to have exposure to a lithium play in Southeast Asia.

Cartwright tells this news service Anadara’s Battery Transition Fund was one of 3 institutional investors to support Pan Asia’s January placement as the company’s Reung Kiet Lithium Project in Thailand is globally significant.

“Pan Asia Metals is a company that we are already intimately familiar with. Anadara Asset Management has another fund, the Special Opportunities Fund, that has been an investor now for probably 2 years.

We’ve been building our position gradually over that period of time. It’s now one of the biggest positions in that fund, and what we really like about Pan Asia Metals is it’s in a space that we know there is going to be a shortfall in lithium. Through putting together our research on Pan Asia Metals, I’ve come to learn that Thailand is one of the best places to be for a lithium producer.

“We’ve been building our position gradually over that period of time. It’s now one of the biggest positions in that fund, and what we really like about Pan Asia Metals is it’s in a space that we know there is going to be a shortfall in lithium”

One thing I like about Pan Asia Metals is the fact that it’s got a JORC resource, and there’s 13 or so (lithium) companies that have a JORC resource. I also really like the fact that it’s in Thailand.

I think one thing investors seem to miss when considering adding Pan Asia Metals to their portfolio is just how advanced the Thai economy is. They’ve got one of the strongest banking systems in the world with fantastic infrastructure everywhere. When you add to that the exchange rate for every Australian dollar that you spend over there, you effectively get 3 times bang for your buck.”

Powerful funding vehicle

Cartwright says Viriathus has a reputation for identifying undervalued lithium companies in Australia, as well as abroad, and after assessing Pan Asia’s position relative to its development progress, the company is in line for a re-rating.

The Battery Transition Fund has been a perfect vehicle to provide mining companies such as Pan Asia another avenue to access finance.

“The Battery Transition Fund was really born from our experience of investing in battery related companies, and we just identified a gap in the market for a fund specific to this space. 

“The Battery Transition Fund was really born from our experience of investing in battery related companies, and we just identified a gap in the market for a fund specific to this space”

While (the Battery Transition Fund) will predominantly invest in resource companies, we’re also focusing on some of the new technologies that are coming to the market that will help batteries improve or completely new battery technologies all together.”

Capital and confidence 

Anadara Asset Management offers investors exposure to global equity markets, private equity, or fixed income. The fund aims to invest in raw material explorers and producers like Pan Asia, as well as companies developing battery technologies to spur along the renewable energy transition.

Speaking to Mining.com.au, Pan Asia Metals Managing Director Paul Lock says financial backing from Anadara is providing the company’s shareholders with confidence.

“When we did our last capital raising there were 3 funds, Anadara, and 2 Bangkok-based funds who were looking for a position in the company, and so that’s why we were able to raise at a slight premium. We had 3 investors coming in who I am pretty sure are there for the long-term, given their track record investing elsewhere.

When I look at our register in the top 30, we’ve hardly had any movement over the last 12 or 18 months, and having 3 well-sized, well-intentioned investors near the top of the register who can offer a lot of advice on how we go about raising funds, and now we can go about business in Thailand. 

They’re the sort of investors you want, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of our smaller investors would appreciate having that sort of support from our large investors.”

Pan Asia Thailand assets

Lock says from an investment perspective, Thailand is a low-cost environment to operate in, adding that Southeast Asia is rapidly becoming a hotspot for manufacturing within the global automotive sector.

“The dollar really does go 2 to 3 times further than it would in Australia or Canada. We’ve got a full Thai team and it costs us about a third to operate that team. Our drilling is a third of what it would cost normally to drill all in, so it’s a low-cost operating environment and that’s why South-East Asia and Thailand are destinations for manufacturers and processors, because it’s a low-cost environment.

We’re seeing several Chinese companies now moving into Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam to produce EVs and batteries.

If you look at Asia, over 55% of vehicle production is in Asia, so India through to the Philippines, and then China, (South) Korea, down to Indonesia. So, it’s 55% of global production and it’s the highest growth region on Earth.” 

Lock adds that the region has nearly half the globe’s population, which is also very young and in an exciting market not completely understood.

“You’ve got those 2 key demand drivers in the region, and the countries in Asia are not going to import finished products from elsewhere. They’re manufacturers so all of that manufacturing will happen.”

Looking towards the future, Lock says Pan Asia will continue to focus on exploring its Reung Kiet and Bang I Tum prospects with the aim of becoming a ‘significant’ mid-sized player in the region through the production of lithium carbonate.

“I’m not too interested in selling a concentrate. What I want to do is remove the company from the volatility of the front-end of the commodity cycle, so right now we’re seeing concentrate and chemicals whip around a bit. 

The further downstream you go, the less whip you get, particularly when the market starts to sell. What I want to do is move downstream and produce lithium carbonate. That’s effectively a done deal.

We can do that in Thailand and that’s what our studies are based on, but I think we can go further than that and produce a cathode active material. If we can achieve that, we’ll be the only ASX-listed lithium explorer-developer who’s got that far down the supply chain, and we are actively in discussions to meet that end.”

Pan Asia Metals is an ASX-listed battery metals producer focused on its portfolio of projects in Thailand. The company’s assets include the Reung Kiet Lithium Project, the Kata Thong Lithium Project, and the Khao Soon Tungsten Project.

Images: Pan Asia Metals Ltd
Written By Harry Mulholland
Hailing from the Central Coast region of NSW, Harry is a passionate journalist with a background in print, radio and ESG news. When not bashing away on his keyboard, he can be found brewing a coffee or playing with his dog.