Completes Integration, Validates Breakthrough Technologies, Proves Commercial Readiness of Technologies
VIRGINIA CITY, Nev., March 16, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Comstock Inc. (NYSE: LODE) (“Comstock” and the “Company”), an innovator of technologies that enable systemic decarbonization, today announced its full year 2022 results, summary of achievements completed in 2022, and our 2023 business outlook.
“During 2022, we integrated our acquisitions, achieved extraordinary technological breakthroughs, advanced each business, and monetized non-strategic assets,” said Corrado De Gasperis, Comstock’s executive chairman and chief executive officer.
Selected Strategic Highlights from 2022
The following is a selection of strategic highlights from the year:
“Our renewable fuels team recently demonstrated commercial readiness with extraordinary yields approaching 100 gallons of advanced carbon neutral fuels per dry tonne of woody biomass on a gasoline gallon equivalent basis,” added De Gasperis.
- Upgraded and commissioned the Company’s demonstration system and commenced production and shipping of biointermediate product samples to qualified prospective customers.
- Actively engaged discussions and technical validation processes with multiple globally recognized renewable fuel producers towards the execution of licensing agreements.
- Initiated additional fuel pathway development projects with the potential to increase yields beyond 100 gallons per dry tonne on a gasoline gallon equivalent basis.
- Selected for a U.S. Department of Energy grant to demonstrate yield, economics, and decarbonization impact of one novel pathway utilizing our process in collaboration with a world-class team of partners.
De Gasperis continued: “We are very excited about the recent developments from our 48.18% owned investment in Quantum Generative Materials LLC (“GenMat,”), including the near-term commercialization of their system with leading enterprise customers that can utilize GenMat’s advanced materials simulation and synthesis capabilities.”
- Developed a proprietary generative artificial intelligence that simulates known and new materials in an exponentially shorter time than traditional methods allow, including crucial properties such as electrical and thermal conductivity, heat capacity, band gap, formation energies, magnetic properties, and many more.
- Assembled a world-class interdisciplinary team of material scientists, computational chemists, quantum physicists, and machine learning engineers that develop machine learning models for electronic structure calculations, molecular dynamics simulations, and multi-scale simulations, and then validate those models.
- Deployed a state-of-the-art high-performance computing platform with the capacity to conduct physics-based, high-throughput material simulations at workloads comparable to many conventional supercomputers.
“We designed, built and operated a pilot system validating our lithium-ion battery (“LIB”) recycling technologies for use in efficiently crushing, conditioning, and extracting high purity black mass from LIB cells, elevating our technology readiness to level 5” added De Gasperis. “Production of black mass concentrates with lithium, nickel, cobalt, and graphite was confirmed.”
- Expanded technical and operational leadership for metals recycling, including Dr. Fortunato Villamagna.
- Received unprecedented Conditional Use Permit to operate a universal waste storage facility.
- Opportunistically monetized un-needed facility in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center for gross proceeds of $27 million, eliminating liabilities of $12.0 million, and generating net cash proceeds of over $12.5 million.
Mining and Minerals
De Gasperis added: “We reconsolidated and now control twelve square miles of patented mining claims, unpatented mining claims, and surface parcels, covering six and a half miles of continuous mineral strike length within the historic Comstock Lode district, and our permitted crushing, processing, and refining infrastructure while significantly expanded our mineral resources.”
- Published a technical report, independently authored by Behre Dolbear, for the Dayton Consolidated Project (“Dayton”) expanding gold and silver mineral resources, in compliance with SEC S-K 1300 guidelines.
- Reconsolidated our mineral properties, increasing total owned, published mineral resources to include Measured and Indicated resources containing 605,000 ounces of gold and 5,880,000 ounces of silver, plus additional Inferred resources containing 297,000 ounces of gold and 2,572,000 ounces of silver.
- Developed continued exploration plans leveraging hyperspectral imaging and AI-enabled high precision analytics licensed from GenMat to efficiently expand, enhance, and prove the value of the resource.
Corporate and Selected Financial Results
“Our significant investments in research, development, and technology readiness in 2022 have positioned us to execute commercial agreements and move to revenue generation in each of our businesses,” said De Gasperis. “With major asset sales announced delivering more than $14 million in cash proceeds, and an additional $20 million in pending and planned asset sales for this year, the Company has alleviated the need for continued equity issuances at these levels.”
- Loss from operations was $19.4 million in 2022, as compared to a loss of $6.4 million in 2021, primarily resulting from increases in research and development of approximately $6.6 million, and selling, general and administrative expenses of $4.7 million relating to the Company’s acquired technologies.
- Net loss for the year ended December 31, 2022, was $46.7 million or a loss of $0.62 per share as compared to a 2021 net loss of $24.6 million of a loss of $0.49 per share. The increase of $22.2 million was primarily the result of the increase in expenses above, as well as $8.9 million increase in impairments of goodwill and intangibles, $1.5 million increase in interest expense, and a $5.7 million reduction from a 2021 deferred income tax benefit, offset by a $5.7 million reduced loss from changes in the value of derivative liabilities.
- Debt was $7.9 million and $4.5 million at December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively.
- Cash and equivalents were $2.5 million and $5.9 million on December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively.
- Outstanding common shares were 91,442,018 at December 31, 2022, and 101,673,430 at March 16, 2023.
Outlook for 2023
“2021 and 2022 were about technology development and readiness, and 2023 is all about commercialization,” said De Gasperis. “Our commercial ready TRL 6 biorefining technologies offer unprecedented performance for our prospective customers, and we are actively pursuing revenue producing licensing opportunities with globally recognized renewable fuel producers. Executing licenses for use of Comstock’s biorefining technologies is Comstock’s top priority for 2023, while our metals and generative AI solutions have made incredible leaps forward with the goal of readiness first and customers in 2023.”
Comstock’s team has decades of diverse technology development and commercialization experience. The Company uses a disciplined approach to devising, qualifying, and elevating innovations from conception through increasing degrees of commercial readiness. The Company has adopted a widely used Technology Readiness Level (“TRL”) measurement system for objectively assessing Comstock’s progress, risks, investment qualifications, and commercial maturity.
There are nine readiness levels on the TRL scale, starting with TRL 1. Progression up the scale requires achievement of “SMART” milestones that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Proof of concept occurs at TRL 3. TRL 4 and 5 involve increasing degrees of process validation. TRL 6 is the first true demonstration of commercial readiness. TRL 7 and 8 involve various functional prototypes and pilots with increasing fidelity and sophistication. A TRL 9 technology is commercially mature and fully deployed. Depending on the technology and other applicable factors, revenue can commence at TRL 6 for early adoption by sophisticated commercial clients with continued development to TRL 7, 8, and 9.
The following chart summarizes the change in TRL status over the past year, and the objectives for 2023:
|Line of Business
|Conversion of under-utilized woody biomass into renewable fuels at high yield
|Generative AI that simulates new materials at exponentially increased speed
|Scalable extraction of purified black mass concentrate from lithium-ion batteries
|Dramatically reduced exploration costs with hyperspectral imaging and AI-based analytics
Comstock’s SMART milestones and commercialization process involve meticulous planning that is informed by many factors, including the total addressable markets, their growth rates, and the speed that the Company can initiate and increase revenue.
Most current forms of renewable fuel draw from the same pool of conventional feedstocks, including corn and vegetable oils in the U.S., but the entire available supply of those feedstocks could only meet a small fraction of the demand for renewable fuels. Comstock’s patented and patent-pending biorefining technologies unblock that constraint by converting abundant but underutilized lignocellulosic or “woody” biomass into biointermediates for refining drop-in and other renewable fuels.
The Company’s objectives for 2023 include:
- Executing one or more early adopter license agreements and commencing development on commercial scale projects for operationally experienced, technologically sophisticated, and well capitalized customers.
- Completion of full technical documentation and engineering submittal packages.
- Completion of an independent lifecycle carbon analysis to prove the carbon emissions reduction benefits of the fuels produced with Comstock’s processes.
- Continuous operation of the integrated biointermediate production process at the Company’s demonstration plant for sufficient time to achieve and broadly demonstrate TRL 7.
Each license agreement for a commercial production facility will create 15 to 20 years of recurring royalty revenue for the Company in addition to upfront fees for design and engineering.
Investment in artificial intelligence (“AI”) is a crucial component of Comstock’s technology innovation strategy. GenMat develops and commercializes cutting-edge generative artificial intelligence models for the discovery and manipulation of matter. This includes generative AI models that can be employed today, for commercial use on GenMat’s existing high-performance computing platform, well before quantum computers become mainstream.
GenMat’s AI operates similarly to the large language models widely discussed in the media today, but instead of words and language, it uses atoms and molecules to generate physical systems and harness math and science to discover new materials in an exponentially shorter time than traditional methods allow. To put this into perspective, new material discovery typically takes many years and many millions of dollars. GenMat’s AI will simulate thousands of unique new materials in seconds.
GenMat’s objectives for 2023 include:
- Elevate new material simulation to TRL 6 by synthesizing and directly testing the AI’s simulated materials to confirm the precision and accuracy of those simulations.
- Commercialize an enterprise-oriented API and other generative AI solutions to early adopter enterprise clients for advanced materials simulation and synthesis.
- Launch and make operational a space-based hyperspectral imaging sensor for mineral discovery applications.
While the Company can’t be precise about exactly when GenMat will initiate revenue, GenMat’s technologies are maturing much faster than anticipated when the Company invested in GenMat in 2021, and the Company is eagerly anticipating Comstock’s own uses of GenMat’s AI for new material innovations and other strategic use cases.
Mining and Minerals
The Company has amassed the single largest known repository of historical and current geological data on the Comstock mineral district, including extensive geophysical surveys, geological mapping, sampling, and drilling data and published updated SK-1300 technical reports on the Lucerne and Dayton resource areas.
The Company’s objectives for 2023 include:
- Publish preliminary economic assessments for both the Lucerne and Dayton resource areas.
- Develop, in collaboration with GenMat, a next-generation geostatistical digital twin model of the Dayton resource area using the Company’s existing geologic and geophysical data.
The Company’s 2023 efforts will enhance Comstock’s gold and silver resources progressing toward full economic feasibility.
Resource scarcity and supply are generally the main drivers for battery recycling. From a market perspective, what is often missed is that electric vehicle batteries are only one of many metals-based products that can contain high concentrations of valuable metals that currently cause massive amounts of pollution if simply landfilled at the end of life with no metal recovery.
Comstock Metals objectives for 2023 include:
- Physically reposition and broaden the addressable market for commercialization of our metals recycling.
- Advancing the technology readiness for broader material recycling, including photovoltaics and more.
De Gasperis concluded: “We opportunistically and profitably monetized an asset that has enabled us to strategically reposition this high growth business into a broader and more efficiently integrated regional platform in northern Nevada. Fortunato has already identified broader supply opportunities, revenue potentials and expanded high-growth markets well beyond lithium-ion batteries. We will enthusiastically share more specific objectives for 2023, in the near coming months.”
The Company is expanding its investor communications in several ways, including targeted outreach channels, expanded websites, dedicated social media resources and a dedicated Investor Day this summer. Comstock’s virtual Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2023, stockholders of record of the Company’s common shares as of Friday, March 31, 2023, are entitled to attend and participate in the meeting. The Company is also planning much broader activities during the Investor Day.
The Company will host a conference call today, Thursday, March 16, 2023, at 1:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (4:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) to report its 2022 year end results and business update. The webcast will include a moderated question and answer session after the Company’s prepared remarks. Please click the link below to register in advance and please join the event at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webcast.
March 16, 2023, 1:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time / 4:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Comstock’s Year End 2022 Results and Business Update
Please click here to register in advance for this webcast.
Comstock (NYSE: LODE) innovates technologies that contribute to global decarbonization by efficiently converting under-utilized natural resources into renewable energy products. To learn more, please visit www.comstock.inc.
This press release and any related calls or discussions may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “project,” “plan,” “should,” “intend,” “may,” “will,” “would,” “potential” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements but are not the exclusive means of doing so. 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Some of those risks and uncertainties include the risk factors set forth in our filings with the SEC and the following: adverse effects of climate changes or natural disasters; adverse effects of global or regional pandemic disease spread or other crises; global economic and capital market uncertainties; the speculative nature of gold or mineral exploration, and lithium, nickel and cobalt recycling, including risks of diminishing quantities or grades of qualified resources; metal recycling, processing or mining activities; costs, hazards and uncertainties associated with precious metal based activities, including environmentally friendly and economically enhancing clean mining and processing technologies, precious metal exploration, resource development, economic feasibility assessment and cash generating mineral production; costs, hazards and uncertainties associated with metal recycling, processing or mining activities; contests over our title to properties; potential dilution to our stockholders from our stock issuances, recapitalization and balance sheet restructuring activities; potential inability to comply with applicable government regulations or law; adoption of or changes in legislation or regulations adversely affecting our businesses; permitting constraints or delays; ability to achieve the benefits of business opportunities that may be presented to, or pursued by, us, including those involving battery technology, quantum computing and advanced materials development, and development of cellulosic technology in bio-fuels and related carbon-based material production; ability to successfully identify, finance, complete and integrate acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, business combinations, asset sales, and investments that we may be party to in the future; changes in the United States or other monetary or fiscal policies or regulations; interruptions in our production capabilities due to capital constraints; equipment failures; fluctuation of prices for gold or certain other commodities (such as silver, zinc, lithium, nickel, cobalt, cyanide, water, diesel, gasoline and alternative fuels and electricity); changes in generally accepted accounting principles; adverse effects of war, mass shooting, terrorism and geopolitical events; potential inability to implement our business strategies; potential inability to grow revenues; potential inability to attract and retain key personnel; interruptions in delivery of critical supplies, equipment and raw materials due to credit or other limitations imposed by vendors; assertion of claims, lawsuits and proceedings against us; potential inability to satisfy debt and lease obligations; potential inability to maintain an effective system of internal controls over financial reporting; potential inability or failure to timely file periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission; potential inability to list our securities on any securities exchange or market or maintain the listing of our securities; and work stoppages or other labor difficulties. Occurrence of such events or circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows, or the market price of our securities. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements by or attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these factors. Except as may be required by securities or other law, we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether because of new information, future events, or otherwise.
Neither this press release nor any related calls or discussions constitutes an offer to sell, the solicitation of an offer to buy or a recommendation with respect to any securities of the Company, the fund, or any other issuer.
P.O. Box 1118
Virginia City, NV 89440
|Corrado De Gasperis
Executive Chairman & CEO
Tel (775) 847-4755
Director of External Relations
Tel (775) 847-5272 Ext.151