Talga Resources are in the best shape ever compared to other years. We’ve got the most mature team, the greatest technology, our patents increasing, commercial relationships increasing. We are basically going through all the milestones you need to do to build a serious long-term advance supply chain into these exciting markets and we’re in the best shape we’ve ever been. So, I think it’s going to be a stellar year.
David Tasker: [00:00:05] We’re here with Mark Thompson Managing Director of Talga Resources. Thanks for your time. It’s been a busy start to the year firstly with Haydale.
Mark Thompson: [00:00:12] Yes, it’s been a big big start to the year so the commercial supply agreement with Haydale was a good one. Haydale we’ve been working with for some time now and what we’ve evolved to is a commercial supply agreement where they’re starting to get very close to commercialising a range of conductive ink products in Asia. I’ve been up to their operations there and they’re a great team and we really feel they’re on the verge of significant momentum in the markets that they’re going into. And yes, what they’ve done is they’ve tested our material and found it conducts electricity – about 15 percent more than using synthetic graphite which is sort of the purest form in the world. So this is a significant advantage that we’re seeing that could apply to other customers as well. But Haydale they’re UK listed but I think they’re underrated for the fact that they have built substantial operations now in Thailand, Taiwan and the US; and they are starting to get real traction in their areas.
David Tasker: [00:01:07] And so is the product they’re looking to produce a replacement product for silver, copper and other things in it? How is it actually used?
Mark Thompson: [00:01:15] Yeah, good point. So, the conductive inks that we’re targeting specifically (because they do composites as well, many things), but on the conductive ink. First of all, conductive ink is a printed electronic circuit. Commonly used, most people are probably aware of little biomedical machines. They put a blood drop upon a strip and you push it into the machine. Actually, they look a bit like this. (Holds up paper sheet). This one has got silver on it, and copper. So, what you have is some silver, a little bit of copper and also some carbon black in here. So it’s a current market conductive ink, it’s screen printed and essentially you can run an electric current through these things. There’s another version, something that they are a bit more interested in that we are doing with them, which is this material. (Holds up plastic sheet). This one is made by DuPont. This is a polyethylene sheet and it’s got silver circuits printed onto it. Silver is very expensive. Silver is very conductive but it’s really expensive. So, what we’re doing is looking at replacing that with low-cost, low toxic graphene essentially and carbon from our Vittangi project. But the difference is we can actually make this transparent. So you cannot see it. And that gives you an opportunity to use this in food packaging, computer packaging, liquor, especially in places where there’s a lot of counterfeiting problems. Where there’s fake problems and the governments want to be able to measure something. So imagine an electric circuit printed with transparent ink. You can’t see it and there’s a special code printed onto it you can have a customs official put his phone on it through the screen and it will actually give him a tick or not whether the product is kosher or not. No one can fake that because they can’t see it. This could apply to other forms of packaging as well. And so, the graphene allows you to have a transparent conductive sheet and that’s not existed before. Fast growing market, over 3 billion a year current market across the conductive ink spectrum. So, to start getting some sales and some experience in this area is a good step for us in the right direction and that fits under our coating sector.
David Tasker: [00:03:09] And a key hire which rounds out what is fast growing a very big team offshore?
Mark Thompson: [00:03:16] Yeah indeed, in fact we have now over 20 people roughly working for the company in the European operations. The UK is growing in particular. The technology team there, we now have seven PhD’s working in the company so we have a lot of in-house technology. Which you need for graphene products to be able to fit into the outside world, to be able to get them to mesh. And we’re very pleased to announce that Dr Anna Motta is going to join us into our senior management team. She comes from the University of Cambridge and has been there for over ten years, and more recently running the Cambridge Graphene Centre on the admin and program side. So she has a lot of industrial links, relationships and knowledge on the commercialisation of the technology, so she can be working with our team there and in Germany and that’s part of this growing commercialisation that’s underway for this year.
David Tasker: [00:04:08] And just touching on that, the company is clearly transitioning into a commercialisation and a sales phase?
Mark Thompson: [00:04:15] Yes, we are. So, we’ve obviously gone through a phase of mining and then processing technology, and then the product strategy, which is certainly accelerated the way the company is growing. And as part of that to interface with even more customers in the way the market’s demands are growing on us, we have to employ more people in that space. That includes marketing and sales roles that we’re expanding as well. So yes, we’re very excited about that because then you’ve got this fully vertically integrated company that’s making products that suits exactly what the world’s interested in today. Which is things like your batteries, your lightweight materials, your conductive flexible materials. These are the exciting material spaces that are happening and we’re exposed to all of those. So we we were gearing the team up for that. We are really excited about it.
David Tasker: [00:05:04] Recently you announced an agreement with Bosch, clearly not a lot you can say, but very important for the company?
Mark Thompson: [00:05:11] Yes. Yes. I cannot say much at all. Many large companies have got very large transformational ideas that they want to test or bring to market. So, it ends up becoming a bit of a sort of military grade secret, but at least they respected our sort of process enough to approve us going public with the relationship. Also people forget we actually joined the Graphene Flagship as associate members with Bosch about two years ago. So, often when you see something that looks small at the time, or you don’t understand it, you’ll see the fruits of it later on. Look Bosch are obviously a sensational company. Most people know them as a brand name around things like drills and so forth, but they’re actually the largest automotive parts supplier in the world. They do, I think, over 70 billion euros of revenue a year. But importantly they’re extremely old and intertwined with the energy sector. So, from not just batteries but electric motors and the way the way power is made and transported and then used. So, this is the space where graphene can work with Bosch and we can’t probably say any more than that – other than, it is another large, very large, multi-national alongside BASF, with Chemetall, and with the second largest concrete company in the world, being Heidelberg, that Talga is working with. And we expect to do a lot more. And in this space, is where the margins lie, this is the space where we, I think, in a lot of ways separate ourselves from others. And, I expect to see a lot of great things arising from these sort of larger customer relationships.
David Tasker: [00:06:49] Clearly carry the momentum from 2017 into 2018. What should investors look for over the coming months?
Mark Thompson: [00:06:55] Good question. Well we will always be growing, there will always be a rollout, you’ll see more technology advances, you’ll see more results of testing in some of the sectors and the products we’ve talked about. In the quarterly we did flag that we were going to spend more time on batteries. The UK Government is helping fund our work on batteries. We’re working with Jaguar Land Rover as our partners. Croda, Johnson Matthey are also our partners in the battery programs. I don’t think people have really necessarily considered what some of the Faraday Challenge relationships can do for Talga and what sort of role we can play. So, there’s going to be an increased focus on batteries, in a way bolting on to the graphene product strategy. You’ll also see that we’ve entered the year with our largest cash balance ever. We’ve got 14 million dollars at the end of last quarter. So, we are in the best shape ever compared to other years that we’re entering. We’ve got the most mature team, we’ve got the greatest technology, we’ve got our patents increasing, we’ve got commercial relationships increasing. We are basically going through all the milestones you need to do to build a serious, long-term advanced supply chain into these exciting markets and we’re in the best shape we’ve ever been. So, I think it’s going to be a stellar year.
David Tasker: [00:08:08] Mark, thanks for your time.
Mark Thompson: [00:08:09] Thanks David.