Dan Weir, executive chairman of DNI Metals, speaks with Maurice Jackson of Proven and Probable about the personnel changes the company has made and its plans to obtain the environmental permits for the company’s graphite projects in Madagascar.
Maurice Jackson: Joining us for a conversation is Dan Weir, the executive chairman of DNI Metals Inc. (DNI:CSE; DMNKF:OTC), which is establishing itself to become one of the world’s leading graphite producers.
Dan, glad to have you back on the show. Before we delve into today’s interview, for first time listeners, who is DNI Metals and what is the thesis you’re attempting to prove?
Dan Weir: DNI is a public company, listed in Toronto and the U.S. on the OTCQB. We are developing graphite projects in Madagascar, and we’re very excited to be involved in the graphite industry because, as you know, and I think a lot of your listeners will know that the demand picture for the future of graphite looks very good. If you just take a Tesla and look at the batteries that go into a Tesla, in every Tesla car there’s going to be somewhere between 100 and 200 kilograms of graphite. Multiply that by how many thousands and millions of electric cars that we’re going to have, let alone the batteries in your cellphones and the batteries in our computers. The demand in the world is going to be huge. So we’re very excited about the future and the future for graphite.
Maurice Jackson: Dan, you referenced DNI’s projects are located in Madagascar. I understand that elections are coming up soon. I have a multilayered question, should the current administration remain in place, what type of impact will that have on DNI and what if a new administration takes place, what type of impact could this have on DNI?
Dan Weir: Well, I’m going to take you through how the elections work here in Madagascar. There’s a presidential election that happens every four to five years. I think it’s mandated that it has to happen every five years. In order to become president, you have to have 50% of the votes. Now, the first round of the elections took place on November 7, so just a couple days ago. There were 36 people running for the president, including four of the people running were ex-presidents of the country. So the incumbent is one of the four.
We had the election on the 7th. And it takes approximately 20 days to do all the counting of the votes. Therefore, we won’t know the outcome for approximately three weeks. Legally, all voting has be recorded and published within the next 21 days. So by November 28, legally they have to announce all the different figures or the numbers or percentages that all the different candidates received.
Then what happens is if no candidate gets over 50%, they have a next round of elections. The two top candidates from the first round will compete in a second round. So the second round will happen on December 19 should this situation come to fruition. Again, then you’re going to have probably another 20 days before you get the results. So you’re really looking into mid-January by the time they announce who the president is and who wins the election.
Now, in the government they have a president, then they have a prime minister, then they have different ministers for different areas, minister of mines, minister of the environment, etc. The president doesn’t actually pick the prime minister, but what he does is he goes to parliament and gives them about four or five different names of who he would like to be the prime minister. So he doesn’t technically put the prime minister in place, but he’s the one that provides the names to parliament and then parliament picks who that prime minister is. But the president does pick who all the different ministers are.
So until mid-January, the current prime minister and all the current ministers stay in place and it’s business as usual until mid-January. Does that answer all your questions that you had on that topic, Maurice?
Maurice Jackson: It certainly does. Let’s switch gears here. Since our last interview, there have been a number of personnel changes at DNI Metals. As a shareholder, how concerned should I be, and equally important, why were these changes made?
Dan Weir: So I want to be careful what I say here. You can refer to our press releases that we’ve put out over the last couple weeks. We have decided to make changes here. I think I’m going to make it as polite as I can, Maurice. We have decided to make changes here in Madagascar. The team that we had in place we felt was not doing their jobs properly. So we terminated their contracts. Every single one of them was a contractor to the company. We terminated their contracts and we have brought new people in. I have decided to spend more time in Madagascar and take over as the country manager here in Madagascar to make sure that things are moving forward in the right direction.
As we stated in our previous press releases that we had been promised from our previous team the environmental permits would be done in January of 2018. We’re now in November of 2018. This was not fair to our shareholders, and therefore, we needed to make changes. I am here now taking control of that process and taking control of all the personnel here in Madagascar. I will be spending a lot of time in Madagascar to make sure that everything goes through and goes through smoothly here in Madagascar.
So new team will be myself, we will have a bookkeeper/accountant here in Madagascar as well, and I decided to bring in a lawyer on a contract basis, basically she will work part-time for us here in the company. I brought in a government relations person, again a contractor that will work part-time. And I brought in a community relations person, a CSR expert. He is also a chemical engineer. He will look after all of the local people and probably in the new year, I’ll probably bring him on more as a full-time person. As we get our environmental permits and we’re building our pilot plant initially and then the full on commercial plant, we’ll need somebody like him when you’re dealing with all the locals and all the relationships within the locals; and, again, him being a process engineer, chemical engineer, he’s a great person that can talk to all the locals and help us put processes in place to deal with the locals and deal with all our workers.
Maurice Jackson: You’ve also had some changes on the board. Can you speak to that?
Dan Weir: Yes. On our boards, we had five people. Myself, John Carter, who is an engineer. He’s built multiple processes plants. I think somewhere around 300 different mining processes plants around the world, including four graphite processing plants. We have Keith Minty. He’s a mine engineer. He’s operated graphite mines in Ontario and in Sri Lanka. He has worked all around the world, including Madagascar at one point and time. So these are great guys to have on the board. The other two people that we had on the board were two accountants, Paul Hart and Brian Howlett. They have decided to step down.
As we are moving closer and closer to getting the pilot plant built and commercial production, we will bring in people that have more expertise in graphite sales as well as have technical expertise in building graphite mines. The other people that we might consider for the board as we move forward would maybe be some of the big shareholders who have had a lot of expertise in developing companies and building companies. So we’ll look at that. That will be in the new year. Right now the main focus is making sure that we get all of our environmental licenses and that we’re moving forward.
Maurice Jackson: Before we get to the environmental licenses, talk to us about some good news that you have for U.S. investors.
Dan Weir: We decided to upgrade our listing in the United States on the OTC. We’re going to move it up to a QB listing in the United States. What that does is I’ve had complaints from different people in the U.S. and from around the world where a lot of the discount brokers found it difficult to trade on the CSE, one of the stock exchanges in Canada. So we are getting an upgraded listing in the United States, and we had been fully approved for that listing; that should happen over the next couple months. We will also get what we call DTC settlements set up where it, again, makes it easier for discount brokers in settling the trades in the back office. DTC basically is an electronic transfer system. Again, just makes it much easier for trading and settling of your trades.
Maurice Jackson: All right. The multi-million dollar question everyone wants to know about. What is the next unanswered question for DNI Metals? When should we expect results, and what determines success?
Dan Weir: So results, if you’re referring to getting the environmental licenses and moving the project forward, again, that’s been our biggest delay over the last year is getting these environmental licenses. I’ve been promising and promising and promising that they’re coming, they’re coming. It’ll happen soon. Most of that was from our team here in Madagascar that kept promising me that it was going to happen tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. A number of documents and stuff that they gave us to show that it was going to happen tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ended up not being really truthful documents or proper documents. I’m rectifying all that. I’ve taken charge here.
We have found out, and you can refer to one of our press releases that some of our documents had not even been filed, even though we had been told that they had been filed. For the Vohitsara property, some of the documents been filed, they had not been filed properly. When you’re working here and you’re filing environmental permits, this is the document. It’s about 500 pages long that you file for an environmental license in Madagascar. This had not been filed for the Marofody property. You file that and you also file a document that looks like this, which is called the Cahier des Charges. The Cahier des Charges is about 88 pages. It’s stamped by the director general of the mines ministry. This document had not been filed either for Marofody. So we’ve gotten the copies. We will be filing those with the ONE. Again, the ONE is the ministry of the environment and be moving this project forward.
So, as we said in the press release that I put out in the last couple days here, once you have filed the documents with the ONE, it’s a 60-day process that they must evaluate and grant you the environmental license within those 60 days. They also have a requirement where they need to go to the property twice. We will take them to both Vohitsara and Marofody properties at the same time. As part of that, I’ve requested and I have a meeting next week with the ONE again to try to speed this up. I will be requesting if we can we do those visits within the 60 day-process. I think that my initial meeting with them, they indicated that that was possible, and hopefully I can confirm that up next week.
So when is the exact timing? I can only give you what the laws state in Madagascar, which I have put in the most recent press release. People, again, have been concerned about the elections. If we can work within this 60 day window here, we will have this all completed while the current ministers are still in place. So we should be able to get all the documents completed and get our environmental licenses within those days. Again, that’s kind of a worst case scenario. The ONE knows that there were some people that have not really done their jobs properly here in Madagascar, and that they will work with us to speed up this process as fast as they can, which is fantastic.
Maurice Jackson: It truly is exciting to hear that. Last question for you, what did I forget to ask?
Dan Weir: I’m not sure. I know the two biggest questions for people out there have been: How do the elections effect DNI, and what the heck is going on with the permits? So hopefully we have addressed those today, and with some of the press releases that I have put out recently, I will try to get the market as much as I can update information as we move forward, and I look forward to finally getting the permits and actually getting this thing, the pilot plant, built and get into production. I’ve been trying to do this for a long time, but I’m finally excited that now I am taking control, I will remain in control of this process, and we know exactly what has to be done to complete this process, and I’m pushing forward to make sure that that happens.
Maurice Jackson: Mr. Weir, for someone listening and that wants to get more information on DNI Metals, please share the contact details.
Dan Weir: Best thing to do right now because I’m going to be in Madagascar quite a bit. It gets very expensive to call me on the phone. I’d prefer if you can email me at [email protected]. I will respond to that. It’s about an eight hour time difference between Madagascar and New York or Toronto. So please bear with me, if you don’t hear from me for a couple days, I will get back to you.
Maurice Jackson: And please share the website address.
Dan Weir: The website is www.DNIMetals.com.
Maurice Jackson: And as a reminder, DNI Metals trades on the CSE, symbol DNI, and on the OTC QB, symbol DMNKF. DNI Metals is a sponsor of Proven and Probable, and we are proud shareholders for the virtues conveyed in today’s interview.
Dan Weir of DNI Metals, thank you for joining us today on Proven and Probable.
Dan Weir: Thank you, Maurice, and bye to everybody from Madagascar.
Maurice Jackson is the founder of Proven and Probable, a site that aims to enrich its subscribers through education in precious metals and junior mining companies that will enrich the world.
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