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NEWS: Standard Lithium Completes Successful Gravity Geophysical Survey at Cadiz Dry Lake, California Lithium Project

Standard Lithium Ltd. (“Standard Lithium” or the “Company”) (TSXV:SLL) (FRA:S5L) is pleased to announce that Hasbrouck Geophysics Inc. has successfully completed a large-scale gravity geophysical survey at the Company’s Cadiz Dry Lake Project, in the Mojave area of California.  The Cadiz Dry Lake Property is located approximately 20 km southeast of the Company’s Bristol Dry Lake Property and is currently permitted for brine extraction and processing activities.  The work has defined an infilled basin with a maximum depth of just over 700 m beneath the Project area.

Dr. Andy Robinson, COO and President of Standard Lithium commented: “The results from this high quality geophysical survey are very encouraging. This work has defined a closed basin with infill deposits that are known to host lithium brines, based on preliminary sampling of extraction wells operated by the permitted producer.  Standard Lithium’s excellent relationship with the Project’s permitted operator will allow for further exploration of the deeper basin infill deposits under the existing permitted brine operations.  This successful and rapid acquisition of high quality gravity survey data from our Cadiz Dry Lake Project will be used to plan additional resource assessment work at Cadiz for the remainder of 2018.

Hasbrouck Geophysics, Prescott, AZ collected gravity readings from 89 new stations, integrated 85 public domain gravity stations, and integrated data over approximately 211 km2.  The new stations were spaced at 1 km intervals along 17 east-west lines spaced 700-800 m apart.  The integrated gravity model defined a basin-shaped depression that underlies the approximately 11,840 acres of placer and patented mineral claims.  The basin underlying the claims is steep-sided, consistent with the basin being fault-bounded, and similar in nature to Standard Lithium’s nearby Bristol Dry Lake Project.  Repeat readings of new stations ranged between 0.014 and 0.027 mGals, while the spread for base readings (both field and absolute) is between 0.009 and 0.015 mGals, demonstrating that the data are of excellent quality.

The well-defined gravity trough and deeper basin indicate potential for structurally concentrated lithium brines at depth.  The survey results will be used to plan further exploration, which will include additional geophysical surveys to identify Li-brine bearing zones and structural control.  For further information on the adjacent Bristol Dry Lake Project, please see Standard Lithium’s Technical Report dated September 13, 2016, compiled in accordance with NI 43-101 guidelines on Sedar.com.

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Blockchain Is About to Revolutionize the Shipping Industry

Globalization has brought the most advanced trading networks the world has seen, with the biggest, fastest vessels, robot-operated ports and vast computer databases tracking cargoes. But it all still relies on millions and millions of paper documents.

That last throwback to 19th century trade is about to fall. A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and other container shipping lines have teamed up with technology companies to upgrade the world’s most complex logistics network.

The prize is a revolution in world trade on a scale not seen since the move to standard containers in the 1960s — a change that ushered in the age of globalization. But the undertaking is as big as the potential upheaval it will cause. To make it work, dozens of shipping lines and thousands of related businesses around the world — including manufacturers, banks, insurers, brokers and port authorities — will have to work out a protocol that can integrate all the new systems onto one vast platform.

Should they succeed, documentation that takes days will eventually be done in minutes, much of it without the need for human input. The cost of moving goods across continents could drop dramatically, adding fresh impetus to relocate manufacturing or source materials and goods from overseas.

“This would be the biggest innovation in the industry since the containerization,” said Rahul Kapoor, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Singapore. “It basically brings more transparency and efficiency. The container shipping lines are coming out of their shells and playing catch-up in technology.”

The key, as in so many other industries, from oil tankers to cryptocurrencies, is blockchain, the electronic ledger system that allows transactions to be verified autonomously. And the benefits wouldn’t be confined to shipping. Improving communications and border administration using blockchain could generate an additional $1 trillion in global trade, according to the World Economic Forum.

APL Ltd., owned by the world’s third-largest container line CMA CGM SA, together with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Accenture Plc, a European customs organization and other companies said last month that they’ve tested a blockchain-based platform. South Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. held trial runs last year using a system developed with Samsung SDS Co.

The shipping paper trail begins when a cargo owner books space on a ship to move goods. Documents need to be filled in and approved before cargo can enter or leave a port. A single shipment can require hundreds pages that need to be physically delivered to dozens of different agencies, banks, customs bureaus and other entities.

Trail of Roses

In 2014, Maersk followed a refrigerated container filled with roses and avocados from Kenya to the Netherlands. The company found that almost 30 people and organizations were involved in processing the box on its journey to Europe. The shipment took about 34 days to get from the farm to the retailers, including 10 days waiting for documents to be processed. One of the critical documents went missing, only to be found later amid a pile of paper.

“The paperwork and processes vital to global trade are also one of its biggest burdens,” according to Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, which has teamed up with International Business Machines Corp. to enable real-time tracking of its cargo and documents using blockchain. “The paper trail research that Maersk did uncovered the extent of the burden that documents and processes inflict on trade and the consequences.”

That plethora of paper processors has been one of the reasons shipping has lagged behind other industries in moving to electronic forms. The variety of different languages, laws and organizations involved in moving cargoes in the past made standardization a slow process.

Instead the industry has relied on advances in transport technology and cargo handling to improve efficiency, with the great Clipper sailing vessels replaced by steamships and then modern oil-powered leviathans – the largest ships on the oceans. In the 1850s, it took more than three months to move chests of tea from southern China to London. Today, that journey would take about 30 days.

The biggest change came in the 1960s, when the industry adopted the standard-size steel boxes in use today, replacing the wooden crates, chests and sacks that stevedores had hauled on the docks for centuries.

With these containers sometimes holding products from different suppliers, and ship cargoes sometimes ending up with thousands of customers in dozens of countries, the transition to a uniform electronic system presents major challenges.

“Not all stakeholders are looking at deploying the same blockchain solution and platforms,” APL said in response to questions. “This can pose as a challenge if stakeholders are expected to trade via a common platform or solution.”

 

 

And the shipping lines will also need to persuade the ports and other organizations involved in cargo trading to adopt their systems. Maersk said Singapore-based port operator PSA International Pte. and APM Terminals, based in The Hague, Netherlands, will use its platform. APL and Accenture said they plan to pilot their product by the end of this year. Accenture said it has tested its technology with other pilot shipments that range from beer to medical supplies.

The cost savings could be visible in the companies’ financial statements in about two years, Kapoor of Bloomberg Intelligence said.

“Shipping needs to stop thinking about itself as this standalone middle sector,” said K D Adamson, chief executive officer of Futurenautics Group. “It needs to start thinking about how the different elements of shipping fit into other ecosystems.”

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Banks Warn Sweden’s Central Bank to Stay Out of Retail Market

The Swedish central bank’s deliberation on creating an electronic currency is sounding the alarm at the country’s lenders.

The Nordic country is moving quickly toward becoming the world’s first cashless society, which has raised concerns at the central bank. Policy makers have started investigating the possibility of introducing an electronic complement to cash, or what it calls an e-krona.

But an electronic currency risks competing with private banks and doesn’t go hand-in-hand with parallel plans to force banks to take more responsibility for cash handling, said Hans Lindberg, the chief executive officer of the Swedish Bankers’ Association. The Riksbank is perhaps trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, he said.

“When it comes to electronic money, there’s already plenty,” he said in an interview in Stockholm on April 17. “There are bank cards, credit cards, Swish and other electronic solutions. The best option also going forward is probably that the Riksbank sticks to wholesale.”

A parliamentary review in Sweden is at the same time working on new measures designed to stop the decline of cash and to maintain a basic cash infrastructure. One idea floated by Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves is to force banks to offer cash handling services.

Such plans risk running into EU law, according to Lindberg. “I think you need to define what the state’s obligations should be,” he said.

The central bank’s suggestion that private banks should deal with cash handling also comes after the Riksbank since the 1980s dismantled much of its cash infrastructure, including closing more than 20 offices around Sweden.

“Bills in circulation have decreased but banks have kept ATMs and opened more cash handling centers, so I think banks have taken their responsibility,” Lindberg said.

Riksbank Deputy Governor Martin Floden has said that it would be a big step back for the bank to, for example, reopen its offices.

Recently, there have also been signs that the decline of cash in circulation is beginning to flatten out, suggesting it can’t go much further, Lindberg said. The Bank for International Settlements also recently warned that a central bank digital currency could create new risks by allowing for digital runs on central banks “with unprecedented speed and scale.”

For now, Lindberg is sanguine that the central bank won’t go down the route of creating an e-krona.

“I don’t really see the need for such a solution, and I’m fairly certain that they won’t end up with that kind of solution either, because it doesn’t solve any societal problem,” Lindberg said. “It would rather create problems instead.”

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U.S. debt load ballooning, set to outpace some African countries in 5yrs

The US debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to jump to 116.9 percent by 2023, leaving behind Italy, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In five years, the American debt burden will also be worse than some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Mozambique or Burundi.

In the United States, the revised tax code and the two-year budget agreement lead to an expansion in the level of economic activity until 2020. These measures will give rise to overall deficits above $1 trillion over the next three years, which is more than 5 percent of GDP. This adds to the rising trend in government debt, bringing it to 117 percent of GDP in 2023,” the IMF said in its report.

The IMF says its forecasts are similar to those recently published by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said the US debt “is far greater than the debt in any year since just after World War II.”

The office also predicted that the debt held by the public will rise from 78 percent of GDP (or $16 trillion) at the end of 2018 to 96 percent of GDP (or $29 trillion) by 2028. As of Monday, the US national debt stood at $21.4 trillion.

While the US economy has been growing steadily, it won’t be able to control the skyrocketing debt, according to Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Chicago-based asset management firm Northern Trust.

“An honest accounting finds US debt headed to shockingly high levels,” he said, as quoted by CNBC. Tannenbaum added: “Sometime in the next decade we’re going to have a recession which is really going to throw us off that trajectory.”

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Russia & Iran drop dollar trade by extending oil-for-goods supply agreement

The first delivery of Iranian crude oil to Russia under the oil-for-goods program has been completed and the sides aim to extend the deal for five years, according to Russian Energy Ministry Aleksandr Novak.

“The agreement is effective; it has been extended for the year, but in general, we think it should be extended for five years,” he said.

The oil-for-goods deal was initially reached in 2014 when Iran was under Western sanctions over its nuclear program. Last year, Moscow and Tehran ratified the agreement, under which Russia would initially buy 100,000 barrels a day from Iran and sell the country $45 billion worth of goods.

Current Iranian oil supplies under the program amount to five million tons per year. The first delivery was made in November 2017 and totaled one million tons.

Novak said earlier that the oil-for-goods program was expected to boost trade between the two countries. The nations have also signed six provisional agreements to collaborate on “strategic” energy deals worth up to $30 billion.

Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said this month that Russian investment in developing Iran’s oil and gas fields could total more than $50 billion.

According to Ushakov, Iran may enter the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) within months. The free-trade zone deal is expected to “trigger further development of our bilateral trade and expansion of investment cooperation.”

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