IGO lifts profile in Buxton

Resource giant IGO Limited has lifted its presence within Western Australia-based Buxton Resources by entering into three inter-dependent transactions with the company. Read more

Nova revenue helps IGO deliver on targets

IGO has delivered on FY22 production and cost guidance, with group sales revenue of $278 million and underlying EBITDA of $258m for the quarter, driven by record sales revenue at Nova and increased net profit from the TLEA lithium venture, both in Western Australia. Read more

Macmahon Holdings has announced it has finalised its load-and-haul services contract with Talison Lithium for the Greenbushes lithium project.

IGO increases presence in Greenbushes

IGO has entered a farm-in and joint venture (JV) with Venus Metals to progressively acquire up to a 70 per cent interest in the Bridgetown Greenbushes Exploration Project in Western Australia. Read more

IGO gets nod for Western Areas purchase

Western Australian miner IGO Limited’s acquisition of Western Areas is all but finalised, following approvals by the latter’s shareholders, the Supreme Court of Western Australia and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. Read more


IGO bolsters renewable energy supply at Nova

IGO has taken another step towards decarbonising its Nova nickel operation in Western Australia, signing an agreement with Australian Vanadium to trial its vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) standalone power system (SPS).

Provided by Australian Vanadium’s wholly owned subsidiary VSUN Energy, the power system will be free for use for the first 12 months, with ownership or rental options thereafter.

A SPS typically comprises a combination of solar, wind, battery and backup generation from diesel or gas and supplies power independently to the electricity grid.

Based on a 300 kilowatt-hour (kWh) VRFB, SPS is designed to provide a 100 per cent renewable energy supply for much of the year, with a diesel genset offsetting any long periods of cloud cover.

The SPS aims to not only significantly reducing the carbon emissions of diesel generator powered bore fields, but also offer substantial reductions in operating hours for service personnel.

IGO chief operating officer Matt Dusci said the trial of the SPS forms part of the major miner’s broader net-zero strategy.

“IGO’s strategic focus is on those products that are critical to enabling clean energy solutions, to create a better planet,” he said.

“As part of our strategy to deliver those products, we aspire to be carbon neutral across our business and to do this, in part, by leveraging renewable energy solutions and innovation to reduce emissions at our remote exploration and mining operations.”

Australian Vanadium managing director Vincent Algar said the SPS is not only effective in stamping out diesel but it’s also sturdy.

“The installation of an SPS based on vanadium technology for pumping applications enables diesel to be almost entirely eliminated, helping reduce overall carbon emissions and providing reliable green power,” he said.

“The robustness of VRFB energy storage makes it perfectly suited to the tough environments found on many Australian mine sites.”

In July, Australian Vanadium was awarded a $3.69 million Federal Government manufacturing grant, part of which has funded the development of the VRFB-fuelled SPS.


IGO sees lithium progress at Kwinana refinery

IGO has helped to produce the first lithium hydroxide chemical product from the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery, as part of its joint venture (Lithium JV) with Tianqi Lithium Corporation.

Next steps at the refinery will be to improve the product quality to battery grade for offtake, as the first production was intentionally not yet up to standard.

The product came as train one at Kwinana was commissioned over recent months, which IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford said was only step one.

“First production of lithium hydroxide is the first step of a journey but nevertheless represents a key milestone for the Lithium JV,” Bradford said.

“We are therefore delighted to have achieved this first important step in the commissioning of train one and to have done so ahead of the internal schedule developed earlier this year.”

Lithium JV will now move train one from producing lithium hydroxide on a batch basis to a continuous basis, as it improves the product.

Saleable product is expected to be produced before the end of 2021 and accredited battery grade product will follow in the March quarter of 2022.

The designed production rate at Kwinana of 24,000 tonnes per annum is expected to be reached by the end of 2022.

Bradford said the project fell in line with growing demand for the product.

“The strong demand being witnessed in the lithium market globally reinforces the strategic nature of Kwinana which, together with the Lithium JV’s interest in the Greenbushes mine, is rapidly evolving into a globally significant, integrated lithium operation catering to the specific needs of premium lithium-ion battery manufacturers,” Bradford said.

IGO has a 49 per cent interest in Lithium JV. Through the JV, IGO also holds a 25 per cent indirect interest in the Greenbushes lithium mine in Western Australia – the largest of its kind.


IGO, Barminco finish Nova electric vehicle trial

IGO and Barminco have advanced the electrification of the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine in Western Australia following the trial of a Normet underground electric vehicle (EV), which has successfully handled the site’s conditions.

The three-month trial used Normet’s Charmec MC 605 VE SD for underground operations as part of IGO and Barminco’s commitment to the Electric Mine Consortium which aims to decarbonise and electrify the mining industry.

Normet’s SmartDrive technology features fast charging capability for its high-torque electric motors.

According to Barminco, which provides mining services at Nova, the three-month trial has delivered positive feedback.

“Feedback on this new technology has been positive, with operators and maintenance all agreeing that the driving is comfortable, smooth, and controlled, allowing tramming speeds to remain consistent up and down the declines,” Barminco stated.

The trial aimed to demonstrate how underground equipment can be faster and does not require diesel power.

“This battery electric driven system proved to handle Australian mining conditions, contrasting operating styles, varying tramming lengths, diverse changes to incline and decline and temperatures,” Barminco stated.

The vehicle was charged on day and night shifts to give Normet technicians the ability to monitor the vehicles in a real mining environment.

“Barminco and IGO are both a part of the Electric Mine Consortium and this is one of many trials we are undertaking to advance electrification and sustainability underground, and are excited to be utilising new technologies across our sites,” Barminco stated.

The Nova operation produced 30,436 tonnes of nickel, 13,722 tonnes of copper and 1142 tonnes of cobalt in the 2020 financial year.

Its guidance for the 2021 financial year is 27,000 to 29,000 tonnes of nickel, 11,000 to 12,500 tonnes of copper and 850 to 950 tonnes of cobalt.


IGO, Tianqi restart Greenbushes processing plant

IGO and Tianqi Lithium have finalised the $1.9 billion Lithium HoldCo joint venture (JV) with the restart of a processing plant at the Greenbushes lithium mine in Western Australia already underway.

The restart and ramp up of the Greenbushes chemical grade plant 2 has commenced, with the commissioning of the tailings retreatment project slated for completion in early 2022.

IGO stated the commissioning process of the first lithium hydroxide plant at the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery has also started.

The commissioning process includes the formation of the commissioning team and appointment of a contractor to complete the remaining works.

First lithium hydroxide from Kwinana is expected to be produced in the second half of 2021.

Kwinana will be Australia’s first fully automated lithium hydroxide refinery once operations begin.

IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford said the JV leads into the company’s strategy to produce clean energy minerals.

“Our new partnership with Tianqi promises to be truly transformational for IGO and delivers on our strategy focused on the clean energy revolution,” he said.

“We are incredibly excited to commence this journey with Tianqi as we build a globally relevant lithium business delivering high quality, responsibly produced lithium products to global customers while generating strong financial outcomes for shareholders.”

Under the JV, IGO will own a 49 per cent interest and Tianqi will own 51 per cent and will serve as an entity for both companies’ lithium investments outside of China.

Tianqi owns a 51 per cent stake in Talison Lithium, which operates the Greenbushes lithium mine.

IGO first announced its plans to enter a JV with Tianqi in December 2020.

“We are pleased to have now formed our new strategic partnership with IGO and, through the JV, look forward to growing a leading global lithium business and delivering on our shared vision for a clean energy future,” Tianqi founder and chairman Jiang Weiping said.

“Our new joint venture is ideally positioned in this market with quality upstream and downstream assets capable of generating strong financial returns for both IGO and Tianqi.”

Fraser Range Employee Working

IGO increases exploration foothold in Fraser Range

IGO has boosted its interest in the Fraser Range nickel-copper joint venture (JV) with Carawine Resources in Western Australia to 70 per cent after spending $5 million on exploration.

The JV was formed in 2016 which now holds a 30 per cent interest in the project.

It is comprised of the Red Bull, Bindii, Big Bullocks and Aries tenements in the Fraser Range region of Western Australia.

Under the JV, IGO had the option to earn a 70 per cent interest in the project by spending $5 million in exploration expenditure.

IGO has completed 14,800 metres of air core drilling, surveyed more than 5000 gravity and 900 ground-based moving-loop electromagnetic (EM) stations, and completed more than 1900 line-kilometres of airborne EM surveys since the JV began.

A further $1.3 million in exploration expenditure has been proposed for the next 12 months.

Carawine will not contribute to the exploration budget and will instead focus on the Tropicana North gold project and its other Fraser Range tenements.

“Our focus right now is advancing our majority-owned Tropicana North gold project where we have the best chance of delivering high returns from exploration success, including at our high-grade Hercules gold discovery where we are currently drilling, and our other 100%-owned tenements in the region,” Carawine managing director David Boyd said.

“We can do this, and still maintain exposure to significant upside from our other quality exploration projects through our partnerships with Rio Tinto and Fortescue in the Paterson, Black Canyon in the Oakover, and IGO in the Fraser Range.”

“We will update the market with further details of the Fraser Range JV exploration programs as they progress, and look forward to sharing the results of this work as soon as they become available.”

The Fraser Range hosts IGO’s Nova nickel mine, with the Nova deposit first discovered by Sirius Resources in July 2012.

The greenfield discovery helped kickstart exploration in the Fraser Range.



IGO weeks away from Tianqi lithium lift-off

IGO and Tianqi Lithium are nearing completion of their joint venture agreement which will allow the two companies to investigate development opportunities at their Western Australian assets, including at the Greenbushes mine.

An internal restructure at Tianqi – a precedent to forming the Lithium HoldCo JV – has been finalised, keeping the $US1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) transaction on track for completion before June 30, 2021.

The JV will prioritise developments at the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery and the Greenbushes lithium mine – the latter being a JV between Lithium HoldCo and Albemarle.

IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford outlined how the company saw the JV progressing.

“As a priority, the joint venture will initially be focused on the commissioning of train one at the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery, as well as working with our partner, Albemarle, on the expansion opportunities at the world-class Greenbushes lithium mine,” Bradford said.

Greenbushes is the largest hard rock lithium mine in the world, by production or contained ore reserve.

Bradford recognised the mine and refinery’s potential to elevate IGO as a precious metals supplier.

“Demand for high-quality spodumene and lithium hydroxide has increased significantly over recent months, promising strong returns to our shareholders as this trend, driven by global decarbonisation and electric vehicle demand, continues into the future,” Bradford said.

Lithium HoldCo will become a 49/51 JV between IGO and Tianqi and will wholly own the 48,000 tonne-per-annum Kwinana refinery.

Greenbushes will be a 49/51 JV between IGO partner Albemarle and Lithium HoldCo.

Bradford said both parties were eager to progress with the JV’s intended purpose.

“We are delighted to have reached this important milestone and we look forward to formally commencing our joint venture with Tianqi in the coming weeks,” Bradford said.

“I would like to acknowledge the respective teams from Tianqi and IGO who have diligently and collaboratively progressed the transaction to this point.”



IGO cuts Nova costs

IGO has improved its 2021 cost guidance for the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in Western Australia despite recording slightly lower production.

The company produced 6816 tonnes of nickel and 3035 tonnes of copper at Nova in the March quarter, compared with 7024 tonnes and 3171 tonnes in the December quarter, respectively.

The company expects production to improve ahead of the 2021 financial year’s final quarter.

IGO stated the lower production was expected, and the company was expecting to achieve the upper end of its production guidance for the 2021 financial year (21,750 tonnes of nickel and 9375 tonnes of copper).

IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford said the cash costs at Nova were only $1.83 per payable pound of nickel produced for the March quarter.

Bradford said this was due to strong by-product pricing.

“We are proud to deliver another strong set of operating and financial results for the March quarter, a period in which our operations continued to generate strong cash flows and we progressed the evolution of our portfolio to align with our strategic focus on clean energy metals,” Bradford said.

“Operationally, the Nova team continued to drive strong outcomes, with metal production for the quarter in line with guidance while cash costs continued to benefit from strong by-product pricing.

“Quarterly cash costs of $1.83 per payable pound of nickel position Nova to be below the bottom end of cost guidance for the full year.”

IGO also secured funding for its $US1.4 billion ($1.85 billion) lithium transaction with Tianqi Lithium, thanks to the sale of its share in the Tropicana gold mine in Western Australia.

The company’s 30 per cent interest in Tropicana is set to be sold to Regis Resources for $903 million.

IGO’s agreement with Tianqi, which was announced in December last year, gives IGO a 49 per cent interest in Tianqi’s Australian lithium assets.

This includes a 25 per cent interest in the Greenbushes lithium mining and processing operation, and a 49 per cent interest in the Kwinana lithium hydroxide plant, both located in Western Australia.

“…We have progressed the transaction with Tianqi Lithium Australia announced in December 2020,” Bradford said.

“The outstanding conditions precedent to settlement are expected to be completed in the coming weeks, and we remain confident that the transaction will close during the June 2021 quarter.”

Record breaking quarterly reports seem to be the trend for the mining sector lately, as battery metals miner IGO joins the fray.

IGO sells Tropicana stake to Regis for $903m

Regis Resources has inked an agreement to purchase IGO’s 30 per cent interest in the Tropicana gold mine joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti in Western Australia.

The sale marks the final chapter in IGO’s strategic review of Tropicana, which included a global sales process for its stake in the gold mine.

IGO stated that the $903 million from Regis will allow the company to continue focussing on battery minerals for clean technology.

IGO managing director and chief executive Peter Bradford said the outcome was ideal.

“Since discovery in 2005, Tropicana has been an important part of IGO’s history and a key driver of our sustained growth,” he said.

“While IGO continues to believe that Tropicana is a high-quality Tier 1 gold asset with strong upside potential, it is no longer aligned with our focus on commodities critical to clean energy.”

IGO’s transition to clean energy commodities follows its acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in Tianqi Australia for $1.9 billion last December.

“We are therefore delighted to have entered into an agreement to sell Tropicana to Regis,” Bradford said.

“This transaction, along with the recent investment in Tianqi Lithium assets in Australia, solidifies IGO’s position of becoming a globally relevant pure-play battery minerals producer and developer, uniquely exposed to Tier 1 nickel, copper, cobalt and lithium.”

IGO has been operating the Tropicana mine under a joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti for 18 years.

Regis managing director and chief executive officer Jim Beyer said the acquisition would provide further opportunities for Regis.

“This is a genuinely transformational transaction for Regis and one that delivers on our strategic objectives to grow as a safe, responsible, reliable, long life, low cost gold producer, generating strong financial returns,” he said.

“Diversifying the company’s robust portfolio through the acquisition of a 30 per cent interest in the Tropicana operation will deliver significant improvements in the company’s resources, reserves and annual production, along with providing additional immediate cashflows, all of which adds to the strength of our platform for undertaking further organic and inorganic growth activities.”

On Monday, Gold Road Resources confirmed that it had also made a bid to acquire IGO’s stake in Tropicana, but was unsuccessful in reaching an agreement.

Tropicana is one of the highest producing gold mines in Australia, producing 463,000 ounces in the 2020 financial year.

“I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank AngloGold Ashanti for their partnership and support over the last 18 years. I would also like to acknowledge the IGO team,” Bradford said.

“To successfully execute the strategic review and associated divestment of Tropicana, while also progressing the investment in the lithium assets of Tianqi in Australia, demonstrates the collective commitment and strength of the IGO team.”