Last week water treatment tech business De.mem announced a big splash in China, but a lack of hard details failed to excite investors.

De.mem (ASX:DEM), which has an exclusive licence to a water purifying membrane from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, is partnering with Virtual Curtain China Limited (VCCL), whose tech is from CSIRO.

VCCL is in “advanced discussions” over a “number of opportunities” in China, specifically in the nuclear, mining and minerals, and coal-to-chemical sectors.

Chief Andreas Kroell says he expects the partnership to result in signed contracts and “concrete revenue” within 12 months, saying these should be in the “millions of dollars”.

“The nature of the business is, it’s not a consumer business but the projects we are looking into are pretty sizeable.”

Mr Kroell pointed to mining as one of the major sectors they’re hoping to secure a deal around in China.

De.mem transformed itself from a small company selling water treatment equipment in Vietnam and Singapore, with revenue of just under $300,000, to one with revenues topping $7 million when it bought Queensland-based water treatment company Akwa-Worx in September.

Mr Kroell told Stockhead the “ultimate goal” was to sell into China.

Mining their liquid assets

The alignment with a mining-focused water company could be the jolt De.mem’s share price needs.

De.mem’s share price has disappointed in spite of announcements like the Akwa-Worx takeover.

It closed Friday at 31c, down 6 per cent for the day. That’s a 50 per cent premium on its 20c issue price in April, but lower than the lofty heights of the 45c surge it saw on the opening day.

VCCL is the Hong Kong branch of VCL, based in Perth.

The founders of VCL, Robert Brierley, Clive Jones, Jeffery Moore and Graeme Wallis, are not water men, but miners with backgrounds in geology, and mineral exploration and production.

Their tech, licensed from CSIRO, is a chemical that attracts and traps larger particle pollutants and allows them to be removed more easily from water. The business targets the mining sector.

While companies such as Fluence Corp (ASX:FLC) have failed to excite investors in spite of the inspiring story, mining-focused CleanTeq (ASX:CLQ) is up 212 per cent this year to $963 million, after it shifted from wastewater treatment into using its tech to extract strategic metals from slurries and mine tailings.

It’s been up and up for CleanTeq.

Fluence Corp (ASX:FLC), which last week signed its first commercial contract with Qingshuiyuan Environmental Company in China, closed down slightly at 62c on Friday.

“China is the largest producer of waste water globally with a market size estimated to be worth $20 billion,” De.mem told investors. “Each year China produces approximately 68 billion tonnes of wastewater.”

“To improve water quality and efficiency across China the Chinese Government has implemented the ‘Ten Measures of Water Policy’ which seeks to control pollution discharge, promote economic and industrial transformation and save and recycle resources.”

Mr Kroell says they’re still looking for other Chinese partners, and don’t plan to lock themselves into an exclusive contract.