Andrew Forrest’s iron bet makes the grade – The Australian
For Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest, the sight of some magnetite concentrate traversing a conveyor belt in Port Hedland on Monday represented “the single biggest relief” of his career. The company’s multi-billion-dollar bet on magnetite – the lower-grade form of iron ore that has historically proved a minefield for every mining company that has tried to exploit it – culminated in the first few tonnes of cowpat-like concentrate making its way to Fortescue’s stockpiles at the port. Most promisingly for Fortescue, the maiden concentrate had a grade of 68.17 per cent iron: comfortably above the project’s designed 67 per cent grade target. Most magnetite mines, Dr Forrest says, take years before they can reach their grade target. Some never make it there. The early milestone is a sign that Iron Bridge, for all its headaches, may avoid the full range of issues that plague the sector. “There is no-one in the magnetite industry who has said ‘aren’t we glad we did that project, let’s break out the champagne’. They’ve all had various levels of difficulty-slash-disaster,” Forrest said. But Fortescue is now starting to toy with the idea of doing more Iron Bridges, buoyed by one promising early indicator from those first few tonnes. Dr Forrest described 68 per cent magnetite as the “mecca” of magnetite and the highest grade material to come out of the Pilbara. If Fortescue can maintain that sort of grade, the product should become increasingly sought after by steel mills looking to reduce their carbon footprint by feeding in higher-grade material. Mining magnetite ore can itself be an emissions-intensive process, but Fortescue is well advanced with plans to run the mine off a combination of solar, wind, batteries and hydrogen. Powering Iron Bridge with clean energy, Fortescue chief executive Fiona Hicks says, will help the company grow the price premium for the mine’s concentrate and improve its bottom line. “The quicker we decarbonise Iron Bridge, the more money we save,” she said. The first concentrate production is also an important step in repairing the reputational damage from the earlier dramas in the project’s history. Fortescue experienced a huge management clean-out in February 2020 after Dr Forrest – who had turned his focus to his hydrogen and philanthropy ambitions – discovered the project’s cost and schedule had blown out. Dr Forrest was no stranger to difficult start-ups. But the investment in Iron Bridge was the company’s single biggest investment and crucial to Dr Forrest’s ambitions to build a cleaner iron ore miner. Originally tipped to cost $US2.6bn and deliver first output in mid-2022, Fortescue now says the total cost will be about $US3.9bn. Dr Forrest, however, is adamant that the blowout is much less than it could have been. “From where we started, it’s been a remarkable recovery,” he says. Dr Forrest also believes the painful lessons from Iron Bridge will aid the company in its big bet on hydrogen.
St George (immediate neighbour of Hawthorn Resources Mt Bevan JV project) targets a greenfields lithium discovery with Mt Alexander drilling
St George Mining has started RC drilling at its Mt Alexander Project to test below numerous widespread pegmatite dykes, which are highly prospective for lithium mineralisation.
Earlier this month the company announced lithium in rock chips up to 2.7 per cent at the flagship Mt Alexander nickel tenements in WA.
Notably, these high-grade lithium results occur within several stacked pegmatite dykes up to 1.7km long and 1.4km wide, named the Jailbreak prospect, which will be the initial focus of the program.
St George (ASX:SGQ) says the pegmatites are interpreted to have a similar geological setting to lithium-bearing pegmatites at the nearby Mt Ida Project of Red Dirt Metals (ASX:RDT), where a significant lithium resource of 12.7Mt @ 1.2 per cent Li2O was recently announced.
Greenfields discovery potential
Executive chairman John Prineas says the first-ever, lithium-focused drill program is an “exciting milestone” for the company.
“This initial phase of drilling will provide St George with an opportunity to potentially make a greenfields discovery within what is emerging as a significant lithium province,” he said.
“Prospective pegmatites have been mapped over a wide area within a north-south corridor adjacent to the Copperfield Granite and extending approximately 15km along St George’s tenements.
“This scale, together with the grades we are seeing in the outcrops sampled to date, provides encouragement for the potential for a large lithium system at Mt Alexander.”
Diamond drilling planned
In addition to the RC drill program, a diamond rig is scheduled to arrive at site in the first week of November and will initially test high-priority targets considered prospective for nickel, then follow up lithium-bearing pegmatites confirmed by RC drilling.
“The initial focus of drilling is on the Jailbreak Prospect, where high-grade lithium observed in outcropping pegmatites has been confirmed by rock chip assays,” Prineas said.
“The first phase of drilling will test a number of east-west trending pegmatite dykes within this zone.
“Once the diamond rig arrives in coming weeks, we will incorporate the results from the RC drilling to prioritise diamond hole follow-ups – alongside testing some of our priority nickel targets.”
Combined RC and diamond drilling will continue throughout November with approximately 3,500m planned in this initial phase.
Emerging lithium province
In addition to St George and Red Dirt, significant exploration is underway in this region by Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) in joint venture with EV Metals plc, Hawthorn Resources (ASX:HAW) in joint venture with Hancock Prospecting.
Further north of Mt Alexander and situated adjacent to the Mt Ida fault, the large Kathleen Valley lithium deposit of Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) is in development.
SGQ says the lithium prospectivity of this region is interpreted to be associated with the large Copperfield Granite and the prospective LCT pegmatite corridor is interpreted between the contact with the Copperfield Granite in the east and the Ida Fault in the west.
NMDC hosted luncheon with HAW, Atlas and LCY
India’s largest iron ore producer, NMDC hosted luncheon meeting for Hon’ble Roger Cook,Deputy Premier, Western Australia & representatives from Australian companies, Hawthorn Resources, Atlas Iron & its Australian subsidiary company Legacy Iron Ore in Western Australia.
The event was hosted at the Leela Palace, Delhi in July.
Managing Director and CEO of Hawthorn Resources, Mark Kerr, attended and is photographed below giving his address.
Hawthorn would like to thank NMDC, Legacy Iron Ore and Atlas for the event, which spoke to the future of Critical Minerals.
NMDC TO EXPLORE IRON ORE, CRITICAL MINERAL MINING POSSIBILITIES IN AUSTRALIA’S MT. BEVAN
Article by Abhishek Law courtesy of The Hindu Business Line.
A pre-feasibility study of gold exploration projects is being carried out by NMDC’s Australian subsidiary State-run PSU miner, NMDC Ltd, is eyeing development and exploration of iron-ore mines in Mt Bevan in Western Australia. Apart from magnetite iron ore, the company is also looking at the possibility of exploration of other critical minerals like copper, lithium, and tungsten.
The project could see an investment of at least $3-4 billion (₹240-300 billion) in a phased manner if found economically viable.
The PSU miner, through its Perth-based subsidiary, Legacy Iron Ore, has entered into a joint venture with a prospecting company, Hancock.
A subsidiary of Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting will pay an initial Australian $9 million to earn a stake in the “Mt Bevan” iron ore project, owned by Hawthorn Resources and Legacy Minerals.
Initial studies have revealed that Mt. Bevan reportedly hosts 1,170 million tonne magnetite iron ore resources. Magnetite iron ore can be concentrated into a higher-grade product. Premiums for high-grade iron ore are increasing, partly because they generate steel with more efficiency.
“We are right now in the prospecting stages and investments are being made by the new partner, Hancock. We are looking at two to three years to carry out prospecting studies. Development and exploration of these mines can start may be four years from now,” Sumit Deb, Chairman and Managing Director, NMDC, told BusinessLine.
Hancock’s initial investment of Australian $9 million (₹48–50 crore) will see it earn a 30 per cent interest in Mt Bevan, with Aus $ 8 million cash being paid to Legacy and Hawthorn in proportion to their interest in the project, that is, in a 60:40 ratio. Around $1 million will be working capital during the initial study phase, sources aware of the matter said.
Upon completion of the initial investment, Legacy will hold 42 per cent and Hawthorn will hold 28 per cent.
“The demand for premium high-grade iron ore products from magnetite has been growing due to its efficiency for the steel industry,” Deb added.
The possibility of exploration of other minerals such as tungsten and lithium will also be looked into.
Incidentally, NMDC’s subsidiary, Legacy, is also developing an advanced gold exploration project at Mt. Celia, at the South Laverton Project.
An NMDC official said, “The pre-feasibility study is being carried out for the gold exploration project.”
The company, listed on the Australian bourses, reportedly also holds other prospective areas, including the Robertson Range for iron and manganese, Hammersley for iron, and East Kimberley for gold.
NMDC has invested close to Australian $40 million in the subsidiary where it picked up a majority stake in 2012.
Gina Rinehart interest suggests magnetite iron ore is no boom-time folly
Gina Rinehart interest suggests magnetite iron ore is no boom-time folly
Once written off as a boom-time folly, the dream of tapping the vast reserves of magnetite iron ore in WA has seemingly been revived as a fresh wave of new and old projects make their way onto the agenda.
In the last month, Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and Atlas Iron have joined the magnetite fray, a significant sign industry sentiment towards magnetite is changing.
In early March, Atlas said it was dusting off boom-era plans to study the company’s 2 billion tonne Ridley deposit, and in April it was appointed as the study manager of the Mt Bevan magnetite project, 250km north of Kalgoorlie, in a joint venture between Hancock and juniors Legacy Iron and Hawthorn Resources.
As Fortescue Metals Group closes on the first output from its $US3.5bn Iron Bridge magnetite mine, Hancock and Atlas are not alone in joining the quest.
In late March, Grange Resources released a pre-feasibility study into its long-stalled Southdown project in the south of the state. Chris Ellison’s Mineral Resources has floated the prospect of building a magnetite plant to extend the life of the company’s Yilgarn operations, and Macarthur Resources recently released a feasibility study for its Lake Giles magnetite project north of Kalgoorlie.
Atlas chief executive Sanjiv Manchada says the decision to reconsider developing magnetite projects came after Hancock acquired Atlas in 2018 and set about fully reviewing the company’s full suite of potential projects, including Ridley – floated as a potential development worth $3bn in 2009, but abandoned soon afterwards.
Over the last decade the iron ore market has changed significantly, with premiums for high grade products forecast to grow over the next decade, and Mr Manchada said Atlas and other new magnetite proponents have learned a lot from the failures of the past.
“The price that you can realise for a 65 per cent or greater iron ore product is significantly higher, relative to the 62 per cent index, than what it was 10 years ago,” he said.
“The question in our mind is do we really think that magnetite is a no-go because of what happened elsewhere? And what has been learned? And has the industry changed?”
Magnetite’s resurgence has not quite reached the levels of the last mining boom, when the Yilgarn region could boast more than $5bn in planned magnetite projects and WA’s Mid West region had a pipeline of developments worth close to $20bn – led by the $10bn Oakajee port and rail project, now back under consideration by Fortescue and China’s Sinosteel.
In fact, plans to develop WA’s magnetite iron ore deposits have been considered for close to 50 years. But development of the nascent industry came to a crashing halt as commodity prices softened in 2012, and the only two magnetite mines that have so far been built in the state have come to symbolise the failure in the Australian mining sector.
Both Ansteel’s Karara mine in the state’s Mid West and CITIC’s Sino Iron project in the Pilbara cost billions more to build than planned, and neither have ever quite lived up to expectations.
They were foiled by boomtime construction costs and the intense processing needed to develop magnetite ore – which generally grades only 25 to 30 per cent iron, and needs to be ground to a fine dust before being mixed with water and run over magnetic drums to separate out the iron ore concentrate.
Both processes consume enormous amounts of power and water. CITIC’s Sino Iron project uses a 450 megawatt gas-fired power station to produce about 20 million tonnes of concentrate a year. By contrast, Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine produces more than three times Sino Iron’s output with about one-tenth of the power requirement.
Only in the last two years, amid some of the highest iron prices on record, has Sino Iron become profitable – almost a decade on from its first shipments in 2013. It booked a $US950m profit in 2021, according to CITIC’s most recent accounts, up 120 per cent on the previous year.
Karara may not have managed to achieve a first annual profit. Its 2020 accounts, the most recent publicly available, show its operations lost $532m through the year, with the mine still to reach its 8 million tonnes a year nameplate capacity.
But the troubles suffered by Sino Iron and Karara have also helped future competitors – including Fortescue, Atlas and Grange – refine their own plans to help avoid a repeat of their predecessors problems.
The first is in understanding the nature of magnetite orebodies, according to Mr Manchada, which are far harder than other types of iron ore – and harder than the rock containing many other minerals – a fact which can take an enormous toll on the equipment used to crush and grind the ore.
Sales of Australian magnetite concentrate have helped give new proponents a better understanding of what customers want and what premium they are prepared to pay, he said.
“So costs are better understood, revenues have crystallised. And going forward, talking to the customers, more and more are thinking that if they can get higher grade ore that‘s what they want, and they are willing to pay a premium to get this product.”
The last element is around improvements in the processing technology. Mr Manchada said one of the most important things learned from previous projects is the need to take more waste – particularly silica – out of the ore before it is mixed with water and sent through the magnetic circuits.
“Today any magnetite plant that gets designed, there’s a stage of rejecting some waste before you take it through the second and the third stage of grinding,” he said.
“That’s not an emergence of new technology but probably adoption of the technology has always existed – but people didn’t realise how significant of a value add that would be.”
Having decided that the problems suffered by previous Australian magnetite projects could be avoided did not mean Atlas’s Ridley project would necessarily be Hancock’s first option, Mr Manchada said.
Instead the project was run through Hancock’s exhaustive internal processes, and compared against alternative options across the world.
“If you take the leap of faith to say we, as a business – whether it‘s through Atlas or otherwise – are comfortable that we can manage a magnetite development, then why don’t we go and get the best project in the world?” he said.
“In the last few years I’ve probably participated in anywhere between five to 10 due diligence efforts on deposits across the world – and we identified that Ridley was in the top 10 deposits.”
In addition to planning around the lessons learned elsewhere in the industry, Atlas plans to take a cautious approach to magnetite developments.
Rather than replicate Atlas’s 2009 plans to build a 15 million tonnes a year operation at a cost of about $3bn, Atlas now says it will initially build a 3 million tonnes a year trial plant, and add more production lines as the project proves a success.
“We want to make sure that not only have we learned, that we are having a staged approach. We see the key ingredient in getting timely approval to actually getting the confidence to invest more into this,” he said
“If anyone can do it, we believe Hancock can do it because we are good at developing projects – we are good at managing cost and schedule, the deliverables and understanding the risk.”
Resources Top 5: Dazzling gold hits, a popular lithium pivot, and juniors cement lucrative Hancock deal
Pic: iStock / Getty Images Plus
Resources Top 5: Dazzling gold hits, a popular lithium pivot, and juniors cement lucrative Hancock deal
This is a good neighbourhood. The 14,000-acre project surrounds the ‘Bonnie Claire’ project (host to one of North America’s largest lithium resources at 18.3Mt LCE), is 70km from Albermarle’s ‘Clayton Valley’ mine (the only producing lithium mine in the US) and 330km from Tesla’s Gigafactory.
Historical soil sampling returned grades of up to 300ppm lithium, representing similar grades to soil sampling over Clayton Valley.
Scotty also likely covers identical geological sequences to those that host ‘Bonnie Claire’, MMG says.
A soil sampling program will kick off in June, to be followed by drilling in Q3.
“The electric revolution is just getting started, with increased demand for lithium to be a feature of the world’s economy for many years to come,” MMG chairman Peretz Schapiro says.
“Through development of the Scotty Lithium Project as well as continuing to seek out additional accretive acquisitions, MMG intends to become a significant player in the lithium market.”
Latest infill drilling results out of the 1.5Moz gold, 10.93Moz silver ‘Sturec’ mine in Slovakia include 173.2m grading 3.27g/t gold and 11.8g/t silver from surface.
This intersection is not true thickness, the company says, which is always the width of the vein/orebody etc at its narrowest point.
Resource modelling suggests the true thickness on mineralisation in this area is about 55m. Still excellent.
This ongoing drilling program was designed to increase confidence in the existing resource (infill drilling), as well as extended mineralisation to the south (extensional drilling).
MTC has an exploration target of between 2.2Moz and 5.1Moz of gold eq, which is in addition to the existing resource.
“The orebody at Sturec continues to deliver impressive zones of gold mineralisation,” MTC director Gino D’Anna says.
“Our drilling has grown the confidence of the existing Sturec mineral resource and demonstrated that the mineralisation extends further to the south along strike of the existing resource and remains open down dip/plunge.”
A scoping study – the first proper look at the economics of building a project — is due out this quarter.
MTC plans to use a cyanide-free gold recovery process at Sturec.
Cyanide leaching — toxic and environmentally unfriendly for obvious reasons — remains the industry standard because it is a proven, cheap method which delivers maximum gold recovery from low-grade and some refractory (ultra-fine gold particles) ores.
Slovakia implemented a gold cyanidation ban in 2014, which discouraged the previous owners of Sturec from developing the project further, MTC says.
The $51m market cap stock is flat year-to-date. It had $3.3m in the bank at the end of March.
RINEHART’S MAGNETITE MOVE
Article by Stuart McKinnon courtesy of the West Australian.
WA mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has pressed the button on a $9m investment that could result in a multi-billion dollar magnetite project in the Yilgarn region shipping high-grade iron ore products to India.
Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting will take a 30 per cent stake in the Mt Bevan magnetite project west of Leonora under an agreement with joint venture partners, the Indian Government-controlled Legacy Iron and junior explorer Hawthorn Resources.
Hancock can then boost its holding to 51 per cent by sole funding a pre-feasibility study.
The company announced on Thursday that its subsidiary Atlas Iron had been appointed as the manager of the joint venture project and would conduct the study.
The agreement, which comes after Hancock began due diligence over Mt Bevan in November, comes just days after the signing of the Australia-India Economic Cooperation.
Legacy is 90 per cent owned by the Indian Government’s National Mineral Development Corporation.
Hancock chief executive Garry Korte said the project offered an excellent opportunity for Hancock and could provide options for additional higher grade, lower impurity iron ore products.
Legacy Iron chief executive Rakesh Gupta described the agreement with Hancock was a significant step in the development of Mt Bevan.
Hawthorn managing director Mark Kerr said the project had a favourable ore-body geometry indicating it should be amenable to low-cost open-pit mining, with potential for a high-quality magnetite concentrate with low impurities and potential for a premium-priced product.
Magnetite is experiencing a resurgence in interest as reserves of high-grade hematite ore deplete and Chinese steelmakers increasingly look to higher-grade, higher-quality inputs to lower emissions and make their operations more efficient.
The trend has seen a host of juniors dust off mothballed magnetite projects, particularly in the Yilgarn region east of Perth.
The most recent looking to reactivate long-stalled plans is Grange Resources with its Southdown magnetite project near Albany.
Hancock’s move on Mt Bevan follows a decision last month by Atlas to begin a feasibility study on its Ridley magnetite project in the Pilbara.
In November, Chris Ellison’s Mineral Resources announced $400 million plans for a 5.2Mtpa magnetite project at its existing direct shipping ore operations at Koolyanobbing.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan and Indian High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra will witness the formal appointment of Atlas as the study manager for Mt Bevan at a ceremony at Hancock’s offices on Friday afternoon.
Shares in Legacy Iron nearly closed up 1.9¢, or 95 per cent, at 3.9¢ on the news while Hawthorn was up 4.2¢, or 45 per cent, at 13.5¢.
Hancock’s Mt Bevan deal a go
Article by Matt McKenzie courtesy of Business News.
Hancock Prospecting’s plan to earn-in to a slice of a Yilgarn magnetite project is proceeding, with the deal finalised just days after a new trade agreement with India.
ASX-listed Legacy Iron Ore told markets today that its previously announced agreement with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock to develop the Mt Bevan mine had been executed, following the completion of a due diligence process.
Legacy holds 60 per cent of the project and is largely controlled by Indian government enterprise National Mineral Development Corporation.
The company and its partner Hawthorne Resources first announced the $9 million deal with Hancock in November.
Hancock was to pay $8 million cash to Legacy and Hawthorne and chip in $1 million more for working capital to take a 30 per cent share.
It will fund a pre-feasibility study, with Atlas Iron – owned by Hancock – to be the manager of the joint venture.
A completed study will take Hancock to 51 per cent ownership of the project.
Mt Bevan could be a $5 billion development, with the magnetite used as an input in Indian steel mills.
Hancock chief executive Garry Korte said the business looked forward to collaborating with joint venture partners on the feasibility study.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Hancock and could provide options for additional higher grade, lower impurity iron ore products,” Mr Korte said.
Hancock joins Legacy and Hawthorn in Mt Bevan JV
Article by Ralph Wragg by Australian Business News.
Legacy Iron Ore (ASX:LCY) and Hawthorn Resources (ASX:HAW) said Hancock Magnetite Holdings has executed the earn-in agreements into the Mt Bevan iron ore project.
The project was a joint venture between Legacy Iron (60% interest) and Hawthorn (40% interest) situated 250km north of Kalgoorlie and 100km west of Leonora in the Central Yilgarn region of Western Australia.
Hancock will make an initial investment of $9 million for a 30% interest in the project with $8 million cash being paid to Legacy Iron ($4.8m) and Hawthorn ($3.2m) and the remaining $1 million to be available as working capital for the new joint venture.
Upon completion of the initial investment, Hancock will hold a 30% interest in the project with Legacy Iron and Hawthorn holding 42% and 28% respectively. Earn-in occurs with Hancock increasing its interest in the project by a further 21% through the funding of a completed pre-feasibility study.
After the earn-in, Hancock will hold 51%, Legacy will hold 29.4% and Hawthorn will hold 19.6% of the project. Work programs will then be undertaken with the intention of further advancing the project to a bankable feasibility study. Hancock has appointed Atlas Iron as the manager of the new joint venture.
Legacy Iron and Hawthorn retain all non-iron ore rights. Hawthorn managing director Mark Kerr said: “The Mt Bevan project has a favourable orebody geometry indicating it should be amenable to low-cost open pit mining, with potential for a high-quality magnetite concentrate with low impurities, and potential for a premium priced product as magnetite demand increases to meet the growing demand for cleaner steel-making.”
Legacy Iron Ore (ASX: LCY) and Hawthorn Resources (ASX: HAW)
Article courtesy of Small Caps.
Legacy Iron Ore and Hawthorn Resources revealed this week that a wholly-owned subsidiary of mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, Hancock Magnetite Holdings, had earned its 30% stake in the Mt Bevan iron ore project in WA’s Central Yilgarn.
Hancock has paid $4.8 million to Legacy and $3.2 million to Hawthorn, and will spend a further $1 million on working capital for the joint venture.
Legacy now owns 42% of the project, while Hawthorn’s stake has dipped to 28%.
Hancock can earn a further 21% interest in Mt Bevan by sold funding the completion of a pre-feasibility study.
The news sent both Legacy and Hawthorn’s share prices skyrocketing on Thursday.