Page 1

AUSTRALIAN Volume 4 Issue 1

BUSINESS NETWORK

The Essential Resource for Australian Business

DORIC GROUP

WHITTENS GROUP

Finalising two Perth redevelopment projects

Mining construction expertise

GEORGIOU GROUP

CLONTARF FOUNDATION

Family-run values in construction

From little things big things grow

TRADITION & MODERNITY I N P E R TH ’S CO NS T RUCT IO N S ECT O R

WWW.AUSBN.COM.AU


Delivering drill hole data We understand it’s about more than just drilling the hole – it’s also vital to obtain quality samples and data from every drill hole. At Capital Drilling, we know how important this information is to our clients. We have our own Q&A teams on all production crews and ensure our drillers and offsiders are trained to follow our sampling systems and processes to deliver quality samples. After all, what’s the drill hole really for?

Capital have earned a reputation for our excellent service delivery throughout East Africa. We are now providing this same quality service across West Africa. info@capdrill.com | www.capdrill.com


MINING | Brookfield Multiplex

WELCOME EDITOR’S NOTE

Welcome to another diverse issue of AusBN, which kicks off with an exclusive spotlight on the Australian Securities Exchange - one of the largest boards in the world with a market capitalisation of around AUS$1.8 trillion. For many Australian and international ventures of all sizes, the ASX provides a vital springboard for growth, which in turn stimulates economic development in Australia.   Nearly half of listed entities on the ASX operate in the mining industry, and this large number of mineral and metals exploration firms are attracted to the exchange due to its long history of mining expertise along with the massive pool of equity funds on offer.   With this in mind, we profile three ASX-listed miners working within the lithium space - undoubtedly one of the hottest sectors of the current global resources industry, with lithium demand set to boom in the coming years as a result of the flourishing lithium-ion battery market.  

Executive Team Editor Jacob Ambrose Willson Content Manager Michelle Madureira Content Director David Hunter Creative Director Hugo Currie ICT Director Stuart Clark Contributing Writer David Coe Managing Director Simon Curran

Orocobre is one of the largest companies in the Latin American lithium brine game, while Lepidico and Lithium Australia have developed innovative technologies to process hard rock materials into lithium chemicals.     However, the main focus of this issue is the construction sector, which has shown signs of growth across sub-sectors and in several states/ territories. Embodying this growth is Doric and Georgiou Group, who continue to offer their stellar services to a wide range of projects in Perth and beyond. Mining services-focused Whittens Group is also featured alongside Doric and Georgiou.  This issue also includes an important feature on the Clontarf Foundation, which has provided valuable opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to fulfil their potential since its formation in 2000.  We hope that you enjoy this issue and encourage you to connect with us on email and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Jacob Ambrose Willson Jacob Ambrose Willson, Editor, AusBN

AusBN is published by Anderson Murray Media: a diverse media and information services company focused on creating and distributing engaging content to business leaders across the globe. SYDNEY Level 13, 135 King Street, Sydney, 2000, Australia Tel: (02) 8973 7511 LONDON Fulham Green, 69-79 Fulham High Street, Main Reception, Bedford House, London SW6 3JW Tel: +44 (0) 207 148 5631

VISIT US ONLINE AT WWW.AUSBN.COM.AU


CONTENTS

ASX

NEWS 8 Australian business news Our selection of the best business stories this month from across Australia

ASSOCIATIONS 14 ASX The premier single board exchange for all mining companies 26 Clontarf Foundation Striving to improve the life chances of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men

COLUMNS 40 David Coe Engaging new investors safely

CONSTRUCTION 52 Doric Group Completing two exciting redevelopment projects in Western Australia


CLONTARF FOUNDATION

DORIC GROUP

DAVID COE


CONTENTS

OROCOBRE 66 Georgiou Group Your partner in construction 78 Whittens Group A family-run construction business with mining expertise

RESOURCES 88 Orocobre AusBN speaks to the lithium triangle’s first new brine producer in 20 years 102 Lepidico A new source of lithium for the global battery market 116 Lithium Australia Converting waste into battery chemicals 128 Chalice Gold Mines Cashed up and debt free with Canadian and Australian gold assets

MINING SERVICES 140 Process IQ Driving out hidden inefficiencies in minerals processing plants

APPOINTMENTS & EVENTS 148 Appointments Notable appointments in the Australian business industry from the past month 149 Events Our pick of the top business events happening across Australia in the months to come


GEORGIOU GROUP

WHITTENS GROUP

PROCESS IQ


8

NEWS | Brookfield Multiplex MINING

AUSTRALIAN BU

Our selection of the b this month from


Australian AustralianBusiness BusinessNetwork Network

USINESS NEWS

best business stories across Australia

9


10

NEWS

Australia close to ‘impossible’ 2020 r target A renewable energy target (RET) deemed ‘impossible’ to reach by the Federal Government is set to be exceeded by 2020, according to new research from Green Energy Markets (GEM).

Fortescue to construct $1.7 billion mine as WA approaches fresh mining boom Fortescue Metals Group has confirmed it will build a new large-scale iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, as part of its plans to increase the average grade of its iron ore output.

flexibility to capitalise on market dynamics while maintaining a minimum 170 million tonnes per annum production rate over 20 years,” said chief executive Elizabeth Gaines.

The Australian mining giant will spend AUS$1.7 billion on the construction of the Eliwana mine, which will replace the almost depleted Firetail mine in the same region.

With fellow Australian majors BHP and Rio Tinto also planning to approve multibillion dollar projects in the Pilbara before the end of the year, experts have suggested that WA may be on the brink of a second mining boom.

The project will also include construction of 143 km of new railway to support the 30 million tonnes per year mine. “Development of the Eliwana project will maintain Fortescue’s low-cost status, providing us with greater

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy has predicted that 20,000 local jobs will be created next financial year, many of which will be located in the Pilbara – WA’s mining epicentre.

In its quarterly Renewable Energy Index, GEM said the amount of clean energy Australia will produce in 2020 will exceed the 41,000GWh RET initially laid out by the federal government before it was scrapped in 2015 by then Prime Minister Tony Abbot. The RET was replaced by the less ambitious target of 33,000GWh after the coalition government labelled the original target ‘impossible’ to achieve by 2020.


Australian Australian AfricanBusiness BusinessNetwork Network 11

exceeding renewable energy However, the GEM study, funded by activist group GetUp, found estimated eligible renewable energy generation would hit 41,381GWh by 2020. The report also revealed that rooftop solar installations in March were the highest monthly total ever. “Households and businesses are continuing to install solar PV on rooftops at record rates in order to reduce their electricity bills,” the report said. “March installs set a new monthly record of 127MW which will produce power equivalent to the consumption of 36,710 homes.”

Doric Group and Chinese firm launch new construction firm for WA market Australian construction giant Doric Group has partnered with China Wu Yi to form Wu Yi Doric, a new entity that will initially compete for tier-one construction projects across Western Australia. The new company spawned from a meeting between Doric and the Chinese firm at the World Traders Association two years ago and was officially registered as a 50-50 joint venture between the two in October 2017. For Wu Yi, an integrated property group covering the global construction, technology and real estate industries, the deal represents a maiden venture into the Australian market. “We’d been seeking a way to

enter the Australian market faster and more effectively,” said Wu Yi’s chairman Qiu Liang Xin. “In our 30 years, China Wu Yi has collected rich experience in engineering and constructor management and international business and pre-fabrication technology.” Wu Yi will provide financial capacity, technical support and construction materials to Doric’s endeavours, most notably offering its own prefabrication technologies. Doric’s current projects include Yagan Square, Subiaco’s Station Street commercial development and the Melbourne Hotel redevelopment.


14

FINANCE | ASX


Australian Business Network

15

The premier single board exchange for all mining companies


16

FINANCE | ASX

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is unquestionably one of the world’s premier stock markets with a total market capitalisation of around AUS$1.8 trillion, putting it into the top 10 of listed exchange groups globally. However, in terms of capital raised from IPOs and follow-ons in the mining sector, ASX regularly finds itself in the top three international stock markets since the year 2000, along with the London (LSE/ AIM) and Toronto (TMX) markets. ASX is comprised of several sectors, the largest of which are financials and resources, particularly the mining sector which contributes 21% to the total market capitalisation and 46% of its listed companies. The Sydney-based exchange has been with the mining industry throughout all of its historical fluctuations, most recently in 2015 when a commodities price crash onset a difficult period for the sector. Yet as prices steadily recover the exchange has witnessed a flurry of activity amongst investors and issuers alike. With nearly half of its listed entities originating from the mining industry, listing and capital raising on ASX is highly correlated


Australian Business Network

17


18

FINANCE | ASX

ASX’s head of listings and issuer services Eddie Grieve


Australian Business Network with commodity prices, therefore when prices across the sector grinded to a new nadir a few years ago, the exchange had its quietest year for new mining listings in a decade, according to ASX’s head of listings and issuer services Eddie Grieve. “In 2015, we had just three mining IPOs but immediately bounced back to 13 in 2016 and

Steeped in mining history However, ASX will always be closely associated with the mining industry, owing to Australia’s long history of resource exploration stretching back to the 19th century when the great gold rush and mineral boom coincided with the first formation of stock exchanges in Australia.

in 2017 to date we’ve had 26, so you can see

“We have a long history and a unique

the improvement,” says Grieve.

combination of mining expertise. It’s a great mining centre but it’s also a very strong

“It’s also evident in the capital raising stakes

equity capital market,” says Grieve.

where in 2016 we had $2.8 billion raised and this year [2017] we have raised $5.4 billion

A key factor underpinning ASX’s strength as

already.”

an equity market is Australia’s compulsory superannuation system, which has

Although the mining industry remains

significantly contributed to it having the

the largest listed sector on ASX, there has

largest pool of funds under management

been increased movement towards sector

in the Asia Pacific region, in excess of $2.2

diversification in recent years, which is

trillion.

something that executive general manager of listings, issuer services and investment

This massive pool of investable funds in

products Max Cunningham is quick to point

Australia is expected to further increase to

towards.

more than $6 trillion by 2030, giving ASX an incredibly strong basis on which to grow in

“Whilst we’ve probably been hit with the

the next decade or so and solidify its position

worst mining recession for the last 20-

as a premier hub for mining listings.

30 years, the listing franchise part of our business concurrent to that period was

“We have a very knowledgeable investor

probably having its best period in a decade,

base, a strong community of analysts and an

which was due to other sectors, most notably

ecosystem of professionals across several

tech.”

spheres such as accounting and law, all of whom have mining expertise,” proclaims

The exchange has also had plenty of success

Grieve.

with regards to geographic diversification, attracting companies from countries like New Zealand, Israel and the US.

“We have found that ASX is often a centre

19


20

FINANCE | ASX

South32 listing ceremony


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 21 Australian Business

“We have a very knowledgeable investor base, a strong community of analysts and an ecosystem of professionals across several spheres such as accounting and law” – Eddie Grieve, head of listings and issuer services for projects based in Western Australia, but people come to tap into this expertise not only for projects in Australia, but projects globally as well such as those in Africa and Latin America.” Another string to ASX’s bow is its long term affiliation with the Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) Code, which was developed in the 1970s to provide a mandatory system for the reporting of resources and reserves within ASX listing rules. The JORC Code has since developed into an international blueprint for mining disclosure standards, after being adopted into Canada’s NI 43-101 mineral projects framework, along with other leading exchanges in countries like the US, South Africa, the UK/Europe, Chile and Peru. Furthermore, while the corporate governance requirements of ASX go towards engendering investor confidence, the Australian mining industry and regulators have worked together over the years to ensure that


22

FINANCE | ASX the regulatory environment is robust but not overly prescriptive, another attractive element of listing on ASX.

Single board Unlike several major global exchanges where separate boards have been created catering to the junior market (such as London’s AIM and the TSXV of Toronto), ASX is comprised of just one primary board. Cunningham views this key differentiator in an overwhelmingly positive light. “One of the things where we are very favourable compared to most major exchanges is that we have only one single board and that means you get universal connectivity with every investor in the market,” he says. “I think it’s a key competitive advantage for us in the resource-mining sector and other international sectors where we are competing for listings.” Cunningham reveals that ASX did have a second board back in the 1980s, but it proved unpopular with investors and junior companies felt the arrangement created a sense of being a second class listing among those on the second board. Now instead of having a smaller board, ASX has a minimum listing criteria which is set at an appropriate level for junior and early stage mining companies, which also protects from the risk of having companies enter at too early a stage.


Australian Business Network

Kirkland Lake Gold listing ceremony

23


24

FINANCE | ASX

Max Cunningham

executive general manager of listings, issuer services & investment products


Australian Business Network

With this in mind, ASX claims to have

ASX continues to vie with rival exchanges for

nurtured a long list of mining companies

international supremacy in the public listing

from budding juniors into mid and large-cap

space, particularly in the global mining sector.

players, and in some cases into international

In fact, during the 2016/17 period to date

mining giants.

ASX was the number one exchange in terms of number of IPOs ahead of LSE and TSX,

“We say cheekily that the mining community

which Grieve and Cunningham attribute to

is the home of the start-up. All these big

its unique structure and the wealth of mining

companies like BHP and Rio Tinto to some

expertise across the exchange.

extent were start-ups that were funded on the ASX in the very early stages.”

“I think for a long time to come ASX will be a global home for the mining sector, both for

A more recent example is the meteoric rise

issuers and investors,” predicts Cunningham.

of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), which was

“I think it will be a dominant sector for us in

formed in the mid-2000s but has quickly risen the small, mid and large-cap space.” to become the 13th largest mining company in the world after listing on ASX.

25


26

EDUCATION | Clontarf Foundation

Clontarf Foundation

Striving to improve the life chances of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men


Australian Business Network

27


28

EDUCATION | Clontarf Foundation

The Clontarf Foundation is a nationwide non-for-profit Australian organisation that exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. The foundation aims to prevent the build-up of negative feelings such as alienation and anger among vulnerable men through igniting their existing passion for sport and combining this with education. A large network of football academies exist across five states/ territories and work in partnership with local schools to deliver several types of engaging Australian Rules and/or Rugby League programmes. But for the boys, the Clontarf journey doesn’t stop at the end of their education, as the foundation offers support all the way through to employment. AusBN’s editor catches up with Clontarf’s CEO Gerard Neesham. Jacob Ambrose Willson: Gerard you are the CEO and founder of the Clontarf Foundation. What has it been like to watch it grow from one academy to a nationwide force of positive change for young vulnerable males?


Australian Business Network

29


30

EDUCATION | Clontarf Foundation Gerard Neesham: It has been an incredible

tirelessly in the field each and every day to

and humbling experience to see a relatively

make the programme such a success.

simple concept back in 2000 continually grow and become more sophisticated and

I feel so lucky to work with and amongst so

professional over time and most importantly,

many committed people, not only our staff

reach more Aboriginal and Torres Strait

but also the teachers, Aboriginal and Torres

Islander boys and communities in need.

Strait Islander families, community workers and our many government and private sector

We started in Western Australia with 25 boys, two staff members and one school almost 19 years ago and today we support 6,600 boys in 97 schools across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. We also now have 350 full-time, dedicated and passionate staff members who work

partners.


Australian Business Network JAW: How does the organisation

is the one we have with schools. We have

collaborate with local schools to ensure

fantastic, working relationships with 97

academy participants are provided a

schools across five states/territories and to

healthy balance of education and sport

have the support of each individual school

and why is this school engagement

principal and teaching staff is paramount to

mechanism so important for many at-risk

achieving the outcomes we are striving for.

students? We develop an understanding of why we GN: Our most critical partnership in addition to the one we have with the boys and their families,

exist with the schools and then fit in around their education delivery, allowing the many fantastic teachers in our country to do what they do best without having to worry about poor attendance or behaviour. There is a good level of give and take and we both share the great success stories and enjoy the journey together.

31


32

EDUCATION | Clontarf Foundation


Australian Business Network We believe education is the key factor for any at-risk child to have an opportunity to succeed in life. First and foremost, they need to attend school on a regular basis and complete Year 12 which will positively impact the other ‘Closing the Gap’ indicators of employment, health and reduction in criminal activity. It is also our belief that this is a generational problem and will take a generation or two to fix. We are regularly witnessing this in many communities where we have been operating for 10 years or more. It has now become normal for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in those communities to go to school as that’s all they see and know. JAW: What lasting impact do the programmes tend to have on students themselves and on the communities in which they live in? GN: Our goal is to make stronger, more sustainable and cohesive communities. Our boys become confident men, great workmates, good fathers, husbands or partners and like any community, the more people who positively contribute, the better the community will be. JAW: How does the foundation prepare young men for the world of work and how does it support them all the way through to employment? GN: One of our key areas is obviously employment and we have a separate

33


34

EDUCATION | Clontarf Foundation employment team around the country whose

based traineeships, driver’s licenses, job

job is to prepare the boys for post-school

applications – the list is endless. Everything

life and transitioning into the workplace or

that my wife and I did for our four children

further study.

so they each had the best opportunity to succeed in life, is exactly what our staff do for

We place an expectation on the boys as soon

the Clontarf boys.

as they walk through the door that they will be getting a job once they finish school and

We have had almost 3,000 of our boys

we support them along the way.

complete Year 12 since inception and so there are many, many success stories. Year

We take them on worksite visits to our

on year, more than 80% of these boys remain

partnering organisations, assist with CV’s,

engaged in employment or further study 12

interview skills, work experience, school-

months after completing school.


Australian Business Network As an example of a successful partnership

Today we have several alumni linked to Rio

within the resource sector, over 100 of our

including two second year lawyers, a second

boys have gone on to work for Rio Tinto who

year civil engineer and an OHS graduate

are our most significant corporate partner.

working full-time within the business. This was unheard of five or six years ago, so these

What is most pleasing is that in addition

boys are continually breaking new ground.

to the many boys who have gone on to be apprentices, trainees, T/A’s or truck drivers

JAW: Finally, how proud are you to

with Rio, we are now seeing our boys go on

have provided this platform for many

to tertiary studies and completing cadetships

generations of young Aboriginal and

with Rio Tinto.

Torres Strait Islander men to escape from dangerous paths and excel themselves, and what does the future hold for the foundation?

35


36

EDUCATION | Clontarf Foundation


Australian Business Network GN: I feel extremely privileged to have worked with so many of the boys, their families and the great people in our foundation. I feel even prouder when I’m constantly reminded how far we’ve come, when I hear the great accomplishments our enormous group of alumni are consistently achieving. Our ‘old boys’ are forging successful careers, buying houses, driving nice cars, getting married, travelling the world and most importantly - placing such a high emphasis on education and employment for their own children. We know there are approximately 16,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander boys across the country who would benefit from a Clontarf programme so we still have a long way to go. The stark reality is that for every year we don’t reach a community, many of these boys’ life outcomes will unfortunately head in a negative direction. As an organisation, we remain extremely focused on our core business of keeping these boys in school and placing them into employment and we remain equally as focused on expanding as quickly as we can to hopefully change the lives of many for the better. There is certainly no slowing down!

Phone: +61 (08) 9356 2500 Email: contact@clontarffoundation.com.au

37


Tailored

Engineering

Solutions

Connecting Western Australia

Yagan Square, Perth City Link - Commercial Sector

commercial

industrial

maintenance

TAILORED ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS 2016 - 20 YEARS SERVICING WESTERN AUSTRALIA

www.teselectrical.com.au

EC No. 007256


40

COLUMNS | David Coe

ENGAGING N


Australian Business Network

NEW INVESTORS SAFELY By David Coe, managing editor of Investor Torque

41


COLUMNS||Ian David Thomson Coe 42 COLUMNS

Engaging investors through social media is easier – and can be more compliant – than many directors of listed companies fear. It can also be more powerful. Yes, Australia does have one of the most rigorous compliance regimes among global financial markets. However, it is possible for public companies to take their news direct to tens of thousands of investors, traders, stock brokers, wealth advisers, analysts, business journalists and others – and be compliant. One of the ASX resource sector’s most active users of social media is Fortescue Mining. In a single month last year, it reached 358,868 on Twitter. A junior gold developer did even better. Stonewall Resources reached 785,760 in a single month thanks to multiple retweets from local champions near its projects in South Africa. Other junior resource companies regularly reach 100,000 every month. Big companies may enjoy plenty of press coverage but social media’s reach allows junior and mid-cap companies to level the playing field by attracting investors who follow them. A misconception of many directors is that social media cannot help their companies.


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 43 Australian Business

DAVID COE David Coe leads a company that is using social media to transform the way listed companies reach and engage new shareholders. As managing editor of Investor Torque, he and his global team have helped companies listed in Australia, London and Toronto communicate direct to hundreds of thousands of investors, traders, stock brokers, business journalists, wealth advisers, analysts and others from the financial markets and beyond. David’s career has straddled finance journalism and investment banking. His successes include creating a document for Macquarie Bank that brought in $12 million in its first 2 weeks and redesigning the business pages of The Australian. For tips and techniques with investor social media, click on www.investortorque.com Follow @InvestorTorque on Twitter.


44

COLUMNS | David Coe After all, an iron ore miner does not sell any more iron to a Chinese steel mill because of its Facebook page. A mineral or energy explorer does not even have a product to sell. But let’s start at the start. To avoid accusations of selective disclosure, Australian public companies must keep the whole market informed and that means releasing material information to the ASX first and continuously. The Australian situation contrasts with the US, where public companies can release material information on social media first. There, companies just let the market know in advance which social channels the information will be released on. Some commentators say this difference makes Australian companies gun-shy about using social media for investor relations. The advantage of Australia’s tighter rules is that all company announcements can be found first in one spot – the ASX website. But, as Victoria University finance lecturer Maria Prokofieva said last year when releasing the results of a study into 3,516 ASX announcements, individual investors are limited in time and resources and are unable to track all securities and releases of all new information. This means, she said: “Companies that


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 45 Australian Business

Smart ways to use social media Here are eight ways a mining company can use social media and build its own community of investorfollowers:

1. Share industry and sector media coverage. As well as news reports about your commodity markets, share relevant research, government or regulatory changes, and financial blogs.

2. Post photos and videos of drilling, exploration camps, and conferences. Show the CEO on stage or photos of people at your exhibit booth.

3. Link to analyst reports and trading information. Best practice is to share the good with the bad – you can’t highlight only your upgrades. Some companies are even tweeting about Moody’s or S&P ratings. 

4. Share corporate news such as biographies of new directors, press releases, charity work, and awards.

5. Live-tweet site visits and annual meetings as well as analyst and investor days.

6. Post details of conference call dial-ins.

7. Ask questions to provoke discussions among investors.

8. Direct followers from one social media channel to others, such as tweeting links to the corporate blog or posting on LinkedIn about a drone fly-through video on YouTube.


46

COLUMNS | David Coe

The view from overseas The mushrooming use of social media to engage investors is being fuelled by developments in North America.

The new era in investor relations started in 2012 when the US securities regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, gave its approval for companies to make material disclosures on social media.

The New York Stock Exchange then started giving tips to companies on how to use investor social media. The tips included live tweeting of annual meetings and investor days.

In 2013, Bloomberg began feeding tweets about companies, industries and markets to its subscribers. More recently, it began supplying data on social media sentiment about companies to its subscribers.

Bloomberg said when it launched its Twitter feed: “Twitter provides a fast and easy way to disseminate press releases and other market-moving information.”

put extra effort to reach their investors Since then, the NYSE and Nasdaq started provid-

are rewarded. They are able to grab the

ing social media campaigns to support com-

investors’ attention.”

panies listing on their boards so that the IPOs would be as successful as possible.

To stay compliant while reaping those rewards, savvy companies release their news

In 2016, the CBOE created benchmark perfor-

to the ASX first and then amplify it on social

mance indexes based on social media senti-

media.

ment.

Having potential new shareholders know your company’s story and understand its


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 47 Australian Business

What the authorities think Guidance from the ASX makes it clear that listed companies are obliged to monitor what is being said about them on social media.

Companies do not have to respond to every rumour but the ASX does require them to respond in a timely manner if the rumour appears to contain credible facts and is having a material impact on a company’s share price or traded volume.

The regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), last year acknowledged that social media was emerging as a creative and innovative tool for companies and brokers to market IPOs. In a report, ASIC recognised that smaller companies saw social media as an attractive, relatively cheap way of achieving minimum spreads and subscriptions so that their IPOs did not fall over.

However, it warned that all communications on social media had to meet the spirit and letter of the law.

investment case helps with raising capital, increasing market liquidity, narrowing bid-

One area that concerned ASIC was online inves-

ask spreads, increasing website visits, and

tor forums where people used false names to

mobilising shareholders in a crisis.

discuss investments and IPOs. It said investors should not rely on this information because the

Ms Prokofieva said her research revealed

posts might be misleading or even deceptive,

powerful ways that junior companies were

and might undermine the advertising provisions

using social media for investor relations:

of the Corporations Act.

“Smaller companies have less press coverage and financial analysts following, and are generally less visible to investors.


48

COLUMNS | David Coe


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 49 Australian Business “However, these less visible companies tend to be more effective in employing Twitter to engage with investors. “Unlike other common ways to promote the existing financial information, for example business press and financial analysts, social media gives companies more control.” Social media can also be used to protect a company’s reputation when it comes under attack. Social media strategist Des Walsh says: “It is all about share of voice. People will talk about you and it is your choice whether to join the conversation or leave it to the critics. “If you say nothing, your critics win the argument by default.” The Australasian Investor Relations Associations (AIRA) agrees. Its CEO, Ian Matheson, said AIRA advises listed companies to consider introducing a company-driven social media presence as a trusted source of company information to counter information generated by third parties.

How the game is changing It seems simple enough. Listed companies tell the ASX about their activities and the market is fully informed. But that is where the challenge lies for junior explorers and all the other companies outside the top 200. They struggle for broker


50

COLUMNS | David Coe

and press coverage so they can feel like they

Social media is quickly changing the game as

are shouting into an empty room when they

it allows companies to talk direct to investors.

make their announcements.

And the rate of change is accelerating.

Some initiatives aim to help junior companies

If you are not a user of social media, the

reach investors, such as the ASX subsidising

change may be invisible. If you are, the

broker research into smaller companies

change is unmistakable both in Australia and

and events companies hosting investor

around the finance world.

conferences. Stanford University’s Graduate School of However, it is still a struggle for many of the

Business investigated the impact of social

2,000 or so companies worth less than $1

media on the financial markets.

billion to be heard, known and understood by the market.

And the results?

Or at least it has been.

Assistant professor of accounting Beth


Australian Business Network • 40% use Facebook for investor-related material • 44% use SlideShare for investor-related material • 29% use YouTube for investor-related material • 18% use their corporate blog for investorrelated material • 88% have a company page on LinkedIn It found the top four sectors that are using Twitter to share investor material are natural resources, technology, services and consumer goods. The take-up of social media by companies is being matched by professional investors. A survey of 476 professional investors and analysts by the Brunswick Group found their use of Twitter almost trebled from 11% to 30% in one 12-month period. However, they are watching and listening rather than Blankespoor said: “When companies use

trumpeting their own ideas.

social media to amplify announcements made through traditional channels like

It also found that company blogs were the

press releases, they are able to spread the

most trusted source of investor relations

information more broadly and get narrower

material on social media with 52% of

spreads and greater market depth.”

professional investors and analysts reading them.

A global study of 800 public companies by Q4 Web Systems found:

What actions did they take? 24% said blogs had prompted them to make an investment

• 63% use Twitter for investor-related material

and 12% said Twitter had prompted them to make an investment.

http://investortorque.com

b a j

51


52

CONSTRUCTION | Doric Group

DORIC GROUP Completing two exciting redevelopment projects in Western Australia


Australian Business Network

53


54

CONSTRUCTION | Doric Group

Doric Group is one of Australia’s largest privatelyowned construction firms having developed a deep catalogue of capabilities over three decades, operating across multiple sectors. The company has a track record of delivering high-end, landmark developments to clients in the resources, commercial, infrastructure and defence sectors. Despite upholding a broad portfolio of projects, Doric remains committed to a set of core values including full transparency, sustainability and delivering on promises. In recent months, Doric has arrived at the end of a major construction cycle in Western Australia, which has yielded the completion of two symbolic redevelopment projects – the recently renamed Marketlane Subi and Yagan Square.

development consisted of a double basement and four storeys, with the ground and first floors allocated as retail space for a Coles supermarket and Target discount department store, along with speciality retail tenancies and a range of dining and beverage outlets. Approximately 6000m² of office space was planned for the remaining upper floors of the building, while parking space for over 400 cars was also set aside within the development space. In addition, public art and landscaping was incorporated into the fabric of the building to instil a sense of vibrancy. Doric’s clients for the project was Atlanta Investments and Seafocus Holdings. Marketlane Subi forms part of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s (MRA) broader strategy for the area. In November 2017, the project was officially completed. Project Manager Mick O’ Dea tells AusBN that the construction period passed with no major setbacks after the project team skilfully managed a high number of design changes while also achieving the requested

Doric was awarded the contract for

date from the Client for opening.

Marketlane Subi (previously called Station Street Commercial Development) in mid-

“The client was very pleased with the project

2016 after succeeding in a competitive

meeting the ambitious opening date and

tender process for the AUS$53 million

gave us good kudos for finishing on time

redevelopment of the former Station Street

having absorbed so many design changes

Markets in Subiaco, Perth.

that are inevitable with large retail projects. The retail section opened on programme on

Plans for the multi-level, mixed use

the November 30th, with the final fit out of


Australian Business Network

55


56

CONSTRUCTION | Doric Group the commercial offices achieving practical completion on January 19th as also planned. ” O’Dea believes the key to the successful delivery of the project lay in the high level of collaboration between all the partners working on different elements of the construction. “Everyone understood that there was a tight footprint on the project with complicated logistics and cranage involved. The delivery was tight, but all the business partners


Australian Business Network worked together and there was good

the construction stage as O’ Dea previously

coordination and communication every day.”

alluded to, with the logistical situation complicated by restricted site and street

Doric worked closely with several sub-

access.

contractors throughout the construction, including Supreme Windows, Constructive

“The post tension concrete structure also

PD and WBC, who provided a bespoke high

posed some challenges with high floor levels

performance external façade, Fortec, MPM

and curved features,” he adds. But as an

Mechanical Services, Positive Electrical, JP

experienced construction company with

Blue and Selected Plumbing to name a few.

vast capabilities, Doric and its contractors were able to meet and resolve all challenges

However, Doric and its partners were faced

presented along the way.

with a number of challenges throughout In the six months since its opening, Doric has garnered plenty of positive feedback from the

57


Tailored

Engineering

Solutions

Connecting Western Australia

Yagan Square, Perth City Link - Commercial Sector

commercial

industrial

maintenance

TAILORED ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS 2016 - 20 YEARS SERVICING WESTERN AUSTRALIA

www.teselectrical.com.au

EC No. 007256


Australian Business Network

public towards its Marketlane Subi project,

Once again part of the MRA’s overarching

with the external façade that incorporates

redevelopment drive in Perth, the mainly

public art within the fabric of the building

construct-only contract for the exciting Yagan

adding significantly to the striking aesthetic of

Square project was won by Doric back in

the building.

2015.

“The public are very receptive to the new

Today, Yagan Square is a lively hub which

building and appreciate that a lot of expense,

incorporates retail markets, market hall, bars,

design and effort went into the building

cafes, green spaces and play areas, while

façade.

the overall development also serves as a major connecting node for commuters and

“Doric is proud of this project. In the Subiaco

residents within Perth’s bustling CBD.

area it stands out as a high-level, state-of-theart building that will add some vibrancy to

During the construction phase, Doric and its

the area,” concludes O’ Dea.

partners delivered the following work on the project:

Following hot on the heels of the completion of Marketlane Subi was the Yagan Square redevelopment project, which was officially opened in March 2018.

• Sub-structural and basement areas

59


60

CONSTRUCTION | Doric Group • Market Hall Building, including food and

In addition to the construct-only components

beverage tenancies (shell only), mezzanine

of the project, Doric also delivered several

space, office and control room and

‘design and construct’ elements including

associated back of house facilities and

piling, façade, earthing and bonding. Project

public amenities

manager Richard Willis-Jones reveals that piling design was a particular challenge

• Northern Bar Building across three levels of bars and restaurants (shell only) • Rooftop restaurant (shell only) and associated amenities

due to the close proximity of three railway tunnels. “This required close collaboration with the Public Transport Authority to resolve issues and come up with a design that they were

• Landscaped areas including amphitheatre,

comfortable with.

upper deck, shade canopies, playscape and water features with integrated art

“Earthing and bonding design was another challenge due to the close proximity to HV

• William Street mall & market plaza

overhead railway power lines. A number of strategies were used, including bitumen


Australian Business Network waterproofing membranes in order to isolate Yagan Square from the PTA overhead lines.� In addition, large amounts of landscaping items were sourced from Australia but shipped overseas for processing, which caused long lead times, However, Doric focused on letting these orders early and tracking procurement closely to minimise the impact of this on the project.

61


62

CONSTRUCTION | Doric Group


Australian Business Network

The end result of Doric’s hard work on the

company – Wu Yi Doric – targeting the

project has been a transformation of the area

Australian construction market, on the back

into a dynamic public space that is already

of a strategic partnership between Doric and

being billed as the new beating heart of

Chinese firm China Wu Yi.

Perth. The 50:50 partnership will combine Doric’s Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive

local know-how and deep experience of the

says Willis-Jones, before adding that the MRA

Australian market with China Wu Yi’s financial

seem very happy with the finished product

clout and international experience to target

while initial trading of tenancies have also

large-scale construction projects in Western

exceeded expectations thus far.

Australia and other States.

Finally, Doric recently made the exciting announcement that it had formed a new

j Photos : F22 Photography

63


September 6-8, 2018 LV Convention Center Las Vegas, Nevada

Mining & Exploration I N T E R N A T I O N A L

MEI2018

Conference & Expo

Workforce Development Sustainability & Community Technology Get Ready to Rock! Don’t Miss the Biggest Names in Rock at MEI2018. Move on down to MEI2018 Conference and Expo where you’ll have access to more than 700 years of mining experience in one place. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the hottest new ideas. See the latest technology. And add your important thoughts to the conversation. MEI2018 Conference Over 70 speakers, representing the global mining and exploration industry, will lead lectures and workshops, and participate on engaging panels. We’ll all be tackling issues crucial to the mining industry—now and into the future. Reminder: It’s not too late for students to enter the poster session competition. Visit https://www.miningexplorationinternational.com/register for information on obtaining CEUs for attending the conference and to learn more about the exclusive Mining Leaders Group workshop. MEI2018 Expo Over 90,000 square feet of exhibit space showcasing the latest mining and processing technologies, and solutions to industry challenges. Register to Rock now! Use code MEI2018RGN to receive 35% off Conference & Expo.

www.MiningExplorationInternational.com


66

CONSTRUCTION | Georgiou Group


Australian Business Network

67

GEORGIOU GROUP Yo u r p a r t n e r i n c o n s t r u c t i o n


68

CONSTRUCTION | Georgiou Group

Georgiou has been on some journey in the Australian construction industry over the last four decades. From beginning with just nine employees back in 1977, the company has evolved into one of the nation’s biggest and most trusted construction firms. Today, the company has an impressive track record of successfully delivering a range of world-class projects, including various buildings, land developments and many of Australia’s most iconic roads and bridges. In July, inaugural chief executive officer John Georgiou (who assumed the reins in 1996) took up the position of chairman on the company’s advisory board with Robert Monaci appointed CEO. John speaks to AusBN about continuing core family values, areas of expertise, the firm’s current workbook and more. “Our philosophy has always been around sustainable growth,” says Georgiou. “Prior to entering into new sectors, we ensured we had the right people to lead the journey and have been extremely fortunate to bring on board some of the best talent in the construction industry.

“In saying that, like any business we have taken calculated risks and entered new sectors with new clients. At the end of the day, that’s the only way you grow your company and luckily for Georgiou, we’ve been successful with these new ventures.” The company was born with a set of core family values instilled by John’s father - Peter Georgiou in 1977, and as the name of the company suggests, these principles remain entrenched in the company today, despite it boasting more than 600 employees. This is reflected in the fact that Peter, now in his 80s, is still a permanent fixture on many of the company’s current projects. “The beauty of Georgiou’s culture is that it cannot be imposed upon its employees, rather it develops as a sum of its parts.


Australian Business Network “If you look at our workforce today, there is a handful of current employees who have had fathers, uncles and grandfather’s work for Georgiou – the fact Georgiou has been such a strong part of their family is extremely unique. Those family values that dad promoted in the early days have carried through to today.” Georgiou’s construction capabilities stretch across a broad number of areas including public

69


70

CONSTRUCTION | Georgiou Group


Australian Business Network infrastructure, transport (road and rail), mining, oil and gas, urban redevelopment, building construction and precast. For the first 30 years, the company’s services were primarily focused in the Western Australia market, but it has recently expanded into the East Coast with offices in Sydney and Brisbane. “Internally, Georgiou is split into ‘business units’ which define what type of work they deliver, for example building and infrastructure,” explains Georgiou. “The reason we do this is because I’m a big believer in passion for the job. Engineers love to build things, but the team that builds a bridge or tunnel is very different to a team who deliver residential buildings. Each business unit has a team with the right capability and skillset for that area of work.” However, over the past few years, the company has taken on more complex, technically challenging projects which have necessitated a combination of business units working together to ensure the delivery of the project. “Having this in-house service offering of civil and building capability is our competitive advantage and separates us from our competitors,” he claims. Georgiou works very closely with its clients throughout the construction and preconstruction periods – the firm offers an Early

71


72

CONSTRUCTION | Georgiou Group Contractor Involvement (ECI) service – on any given project, which allows Georgiou to fully understand the needs of a client and deliver on those requirements. Georgiou’s capabilities at both the construction and pre-construction phases were highlighted by the successful delivery of the award-winning Aubin Grove Station project, located South of Perth. The company was awarded the ECI and Design and Construct (D&C) contracts for the building project by the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and was tasked with providing assistance in collating the Development Application (DA) along with various stakeholder engagements during the first phase. During the second phase, Georgiou demonstrated its trademark practical skills and began working on the build of the multimodal station with approximately 2,000 parking bays, the Western and Eastern entry buildings, a pedestrian bridge across a vehicular freeway and main rail line as well as many other essential amenities. The AUS$72 million project was not without its challenges, which included working between two live and fully operational 22kV train tracks and the busy Kwinana Freeway, but the critical D&C phase was completed in February 2017 ahead of an official opening two months later. Furthermore, a recent example of Georgiou’s


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 73 Australian Business

“The beauty of Georgiou’s culture is that it cannot be imposed upon its employees, rather it develops as a sum of its parts” John Georgiou, chairman


74

CONSTRUCTION | Georgiou Group capabilities in the civil construction space is provided by the completion of the Old Mandurah Traffic Bridge Replacement project in March 2018. Georgiou began the D&C contract at the end of 2015 and was able to deliver the finished project to its client, Main Roads WA, on time and on-budget. Key aspects of the project included a peak personal of 90, no lost time to injuries and zero environmental incidents, despite being located in an iconic and environmentallysensitive area of the city. Overall, Australia’s construction sector has endured a slow start to 2018, with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing only a 0.2% increase in the value of construction work done to $51.2 billion during the first quarter. However, this figure does represent a 5% increase in the value of construction work year-on-year, and Georgiou believes that the operating environment within the industry is slowly improving, which is only a good thing for Georgiou’s future business across three states. “In Western Australia, we are definitely seeing an improvement in the construction sector. I believe it has bottomed out and we are starting to see a lot more tenders released across a number of sectors. “Plus, in Queensland and NSW they are currently experiencing a high level of


Australian Business Network construction activity across the infrastructure sector.” In fact, the chairman explains how Georgiou’s East Coast expansion was timed with the slowdown of the West Coast to give WA employees development opportunities in Queensland and NSW. “The Federal Government is set to spend $75 billion on infrastructure over the next 10 years and Georgiou is well-positioned across the country to capitalise on a number of these projects,” says a confident Georgiou. “Georgiou currently has a very diverse portfolio of projects across transport, building construction, urban regeneration and renewal, defence and water infrastructure. “This year we will deliver WA’s first Direct Factory Outlet, the Telegraph Road Upgrade Stage 2 and Gold Coast-Springbrook Road projects in Queensland and the M1 Pacific Motorway Upgrade (Weakleys Drive and John Renshaw Drive) and New England Highway Upgrade at Bolivia Hill projects in NSW.” With a number of contracts also set to be announced in coming months, the future looks bright for Georgiou.

b j

75


“It was a pleasure working with the RGN team. The entire process - from the initial interview to the layout and finished piece - was seamless and professional. ” - Orlee Wertheim Head of Business Development, Global Mining, Toronto Stock Exchange/ TSX Venture Exchange


78

CONSTRUCTION | Whittens

WHI

A family-run constructi


Australian Business Network

ITTENS

ion business with Australian mining expertise

79


80

CONSTRUCTION | Whittens

Whittens Group was formed in 2001 by Clayton, Tyron and Louise Whitten, who shared a vision to create a family-run business with a nationwide reputation. Since its inception, the contractor has developed into a giant of the Australian construction industry, servicing multiple sub-sectors and working with the biggest and best firms in heavy industries such as oil and gas and mining. The wholly Australian-owned private enterprise provides a full turnkey service to its clients or specialised jobs at any stage of the construction cycle. Over two decades, Whittens has established a stellar reputation for successfully delivering high profile, large projects through closely aligning its approach with the needs of the client. The company has been built with strong family-orientated values at the very foundation and continues to be led by the Whitten family. Clayton and Tyron remain at the forefront in executive director roles, while Louise continues as CEO after amassing over 20 years’ experience in senior management roles. Whittens maintains that the success and gradual expansion of the business over the


Australian Business Network

81


82

CONSTRUCTION | Whittens

last 15 years or so is intrinsically linked to

our performance and shaped the identity and

its foundation values. These values extend

culture of our business from day one. Values

across several overarching principles such

are extremely important, especially in a large

as safety, passion, team work, loyalty, hard

company where values can become diluted.

work, and professionalism. These core values underpin the entire business and are a pre-

“Companies don’t perform, people do! If

requisite for all Whittens employees.

you want to attract and retain engaged, productive and passionate people that

“When Clayton, Tyron and I started this

perform in challenging environments, you

business we knew what we wanted to stand

have to work hard at keeping the culture that

for and what we wanted to achieve,” Louise

has made the business a success.

proclaims. “Whittens’ success can largely be attributed “Our values have supported our vision, driven

to a core team of long-term, multi-skilled


Australian Business Network

“COMPANIES DON’T PERFORM, PEOPLE DO! IF YOU WANT TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN ENGAGED, PRODUCTIVE AND PASSIONATE PEOPLE THAT PERFORM IN CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENTS, YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD AT KEEPING THE CULTURE THAT HAS MADE THE BUSINESS A SUCCESS.”

LOUISE WHITTEN, CEO

employees that demonstrate our values

Other tailor-made services provided by

every day.”

the company to its partners are water

Construction capabilities

management, structural, mechanical and

piping (SMP), remedial and ancillary works.

The construction division has consistently delivered high value to its clients across a

“Whittens commenced business in

variety of offerings which include bulk and

residential construction and then moved

detailed earthworks from site clearance,

into commercial and industrial construction.

haulage, excavation and water cartage.

Today, we service many industries including

Whittens also specialises in many forms

infrastructure, oil and gas, mining, defence,

of concrete construction all of which are

energy and utilities.”

underpinned by ISO approved quality systems.

Simply glancing at the company’s extensive highlights reel of completed projects begins

83


84

CONSTRUCTION | Whittens to give an idea of the strength and breadth of its services to the sprawling Australian construction industry. Beginning with water infrastructure, Whittens is currently working alongside UGL WSP JV to deliver the Riverstone Waste Water Treatment Plant for Sydney Water. The scope of the project involves provision of formwork, reinforcement and concrete pouring for the construction of a biological reactor, biological reactor distribution chamber, secondary flow distribution, secondary clarifiers, three off RAS pump stations, tertiary flow distribution chamber, and tertiary clarifier. The company also executed a major bulk and detailed earthworks and concrete project for MMG, at Dugald River. Included amongst the concrete package are major structures such as a reclaim tunnel raft foundation, together with foundations for the SAG, ball and regrind mills. The plant site bulk earthworks comprises the construction of roadworks, drainage, HDPE lined ponds

“Whittens has adapted and diversified and

and tailings storage facility, together with

evolved as opportunities have arisen to grow

the installation of HDPE piping and electrical

and develop the business” says Louise.

cabling. “Today, we employ some of the best people Another standout development which

in our industry. Again, it’s all about our

Whittens took part in was the massive Gorgon LNG project on Barrow Island, WA. The scope of work undertaken involved providing resources for the construction of in-situ concrete works and other civil and underground services as required by the project leaders up to the end of 2015.

“LEADERSHIP IS THE KEY ELE SUCCESS OF A PROJECT IN A R EACH OF OUR LEADERS TO BUSINESS, WE REDUCE MANA QUICK MANAGEMENT DEC LEADERS THE OPPORTUNITY T LOUISE WH


Australian Business Network

people and the performance of our people.

The skills of our people in combination with the systems that we have developed over

time are applied to all projects, regardless of the industry.”

EMENT THAT CAN DECIDE THE REMOTE AREA. WE EMPOWER O ACT LIKE THEY OWN THE AGEMENT LAYERS TO ENSURE CISIONS AND WE GIVE OUR TO SELECT THEIR OWN TEAM” HITTEN, CEO

Mining expertise

The national mining industry makes up a significant portion of all construction-related business in Australia, and over the years Whittens has repeatedly tapped into this and developed a strong level of expertise, gaining the trust of clients from junior outfits right up to the biggest mining companies in the world. The first mining project that jumps off the page from Whittens’ portfolio is the massive Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara, WA. Back in 2014, Whittens delivered concrete works to the mine site, which included three ROM walls and the coarse ore stockpile

85


86

CONSTRUCTION | Whittens

tunnels and vaults. The combined volume

$10 million contract, its sixth major contract

of concrete used by Whittens at the project

win of 2017, for work on Pilbara Minerals’

equated to 16,000m³ of concrete.

Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum mine in WA. Along with the provision of 5,800m³

The quality of the service provided at the

of concrete, Whittens will complete the

Roy Hill mine was confirmed in the fact that

construction of crushing, wet processing

the owners came back for repeat business

and spodumene concentration dressing

with Whittens not long afterwards when the

infrastructure, as well as processing plant

purpose-built iron ore port facility at Port

services.

Hedland was being constructed. One of the main challenges faced by Whittens Of the mining projects that Whittens is

in the Australian mining sector is working

currently engaged on, it is undertaking repair

on remote sites, such as those found in the

and renovation work at BHP’s Mt Whaleback

Pilbara region of WA. “Whittens overcomes

iron ore mine in the Pilbara, proving that the

these challenges associated by planning each

company can provide its high-quality services

project well in advance,” reveals Louise.

even at the post-construction stage. “We collaborate closely with our clients and Most recently, the company was awarded a

our project team prior to anyone going to


Australian Business Network

site. Leadership is the key element that can

across all its current focus sectors notably the

decide the success of a project in a remote

mining and resources industries.

area. However, one project that it is currently “We empower each of our leaders to act

working on does provide a glimpse into

like they own the business, we reduce

the company’s future business. Whittens is

management layers to ensure quick

constructing concrete bases at the Sapphire

management decisions and we give our

Wind Farm in NSW, and with Australia on

leaders the opportunity to select their own

the cusp of a renewable energy revolution,

team. This has proven to be a very successful

Whittens might just fancy itself to take on all

business model for us.�

the heavy lifting in this burgeoning industry.

Looking forward, Whittens will continue to build on its business with the original family values still at the heart of its endeavours

b j

87


88

MINING | Orocobre

OROC

speaks to the lithium triangle’


Australian Business Network

OBRE

’s first new brine producer in 20 years

89


90

MINING | Orocobre

Orocobre is the newest brinebased global lithium carbonate producer in over twenty years and is positioning itself to become a top global supplier of battery grade lithium ahead of the forthcoming EV boom. However, the company is not operating exclusively in the lithium space and is building a substantial industrial chemicals company with lithium, potash and boron assets based in Argentina – home to a major portion of the fabled ‘lithium triangle’. Orocobre operates under three separate entities in Argentina, with its flagship operation Salar de Olaroz set to receive a major boost to its production capacity after Japanese firm Toyota Tsusho purchased a 15% stake in the business and agreed to invest in expanding the facility. AusBN’s editor interviews Orocobre’s managing director and CEO Richard P. Seville.

Our flagship operation, Salar de Olaroz, in the Jujuy province of Northern Argentina has been developed over this period and is the newest brine-based lithium carbonate supplier to emerge in over 20 years. It would not have been possible to develop this worldclass resource without the strength of our strategic partnerships. The Olaroz Lithium Facility began as a joint venture project built in partnership with Japanese trading giant Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) and the mining investment company owned by the provincial government of Jujuy, Jujuy Energia y Mineria Sociedad del Estado (JEMSE). The Olaroz Lithium Project Joint Venture is operated through Orocobre’s Argentine subsidiary, Sales de Jujuy S.A. (SDJ), the ownership of which is held in a Singaporean company, Sales de Jujuy Pte Ltd, that is the joint venture company with partner TTC and JEMSE. The effective Olaroz project equity interest will be Orocobre 66.5%, TTC 25.0% and JEMSE 8.5%. JAW: Orocobre is currently engaged with several developments in all three of its

Jacob Ambrose Willson: Explain Orocobre’s

operations – How does the company ensure

company strategy with regards to entering

progress is consistent across all three

into partnerships to advance lithium, boron

partnerships?

and potash assets in Argentina? RS: Orocobre has been operating for Richard P. Seville: Orocobre has been

more than a decade. We are not a new

operating in Argentina for over 10 years.

company and as such, we have carefully


Australian Business Network

91

WE HAVE CAREFULLY AND METHODICALLY DEVELOPED A CORPORATE STRATEGY AND COMMENSURATE STRUCTURE OVER THIS TIME THAT ENABLES US TO DEVELOP THE WORLDCLASS LITHIUM RESOURCES AT OLAROZ AND BORON CHEMICALS AT BORAX ARGENTINA” RICHARD P. SEVILLE, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO


92

MINING | Orocobre

Richard P. Seville, CEO


Australian Business Network

and methodically developed a corporate

structure is critical to ensure that our

strategy and commensurate structure over

resources maintain their focus on creating

this time that enables us to develop the

value from these projects.

world-class lithium resources at Olaroz and boron chemicals at Borax Argentina. These

JAW: How important is it for Orocobre to

are established operations that are both in

expand its Olaroz project so that it endures

production and expanding.

the mass demand growth expected from the lithium-ion battery market over the coming

In addition, our strategy and structure enable

decades?

us to also maintain an ‘exploration’ profile through our 35% interest in Advantage

RS: In January this year, we announced a

Lithium.

significant strategic initiative to accelerate our expansion plans at Olaroz through a larger

In November 2016 Orocobre entered into

Phase 2 expansion of the lithium facility. This

a joint venture agreement with Advantage

strategic initiative involved a 15% placement

Lithium on its Cauchari Project and a number

to TTC, priced at a 17% premium to 30-day

of exploration projects.

VWAP.

Having a well-established strategy and

93


94

MINING | Orocobre

This initiative fully funds Orocobre’s

Fukushima, Japan with expected operating

expansion plans to bring Olaroz to a total

costs of US$1,500/tonne. This will further

annual production capacity of 42,500 tonnes

develop our ability to deliver high purity

lithium carbonate production.

battery grade product to the growing global lithium market.

But just as importantly, it continues to strengthen our longstanding strategic and

JAW: The Olaroz facility has also been held

joint venture partnership with TTC.

up as one of the lowest cost producers of lithium carbonate in the world – What

Our partnership with TTC does not preclude

other factors, besides being a brine deposit,

Orocobre from selling our product to a wide

contribute to the low production costs?

range of customers in the global industrial, technical and battery markets, which already

RS: Orocobre’s cost of lithium chemical

number more than 70.

production is currently approximately $4,000 per tonne and we expect that to

Additionally, Orocobre and TTC are finalising

reduce further to $3,000 per tonne once our

plans to jointly develop a 10,000 tonnes per

expansion is complete.

annum lithium hydroxide treatment plant in


Australian Business Network

Hard rock sourced lithium spodumene

with dry, windy conditions enhances our

concentrate (not chemicals) is reportedly

brine-evaporation process. Olaroz is also

$800-900 per tonne of concentrate. The

serviced by gas pipelines, high voltage

concentrate must then be converted to

electricity, and paved highways.

lithium chemicals at a cost of $2,000 - $3,000 per tonne (which currently is almost all done

Three major seaports, Buenos Aires in

in China) before it is ready for sale.

Argentina and Antofagasta and Iquique in Chile are serviced by international carriers

It takes 8.5 tonnes of concentrate to produce

and are easily accessible by road and/or

just 1 tonne of lithium chemicals. Taking

rail, all this coupled with onsite treatment

the mid points, hard rock sourced lithium

facilities (that can produce up to 100%

costs around $10,000 per tonne {($850 *8.5)

battery grade lithium carbonate) help keep

+$2,500 + freight = approx. $10,000/tonne}.

our overall cost of production down.

Orocobre’s Olaroz Lithium Facility is

JAW: Orocobre posted half-year revenue of

supported by favourable conditions in terms

$63.1 million in Feb 2018 – How pleasing is

of both the operating environment and local

this financial performance and what is your

infrastructure. Very limited rainfall combined

grand vision for the company? Can Orocobre

95


96

MINING | Orocobre

“OROCOBRE IS OBSERVING A VE LITHIUM CHEMICALS MARKET DRI ELECTRIFICATION OF TRANSPORT AND GRID-BASED S break into the land of the giants with regards

tight supply and attractive pricing dynamics.

to global lithium producers (i.e. the Latin American oligopoly)?

Orocobre is observing a very strong and sustainable lithium chemicals market driven

RS: Our financial performance for the half

by ongoing demand for electrification of

year to 31 December 2017 was solid and we

transport and implementation of home and

continue to consolidate our position as a

grid-based storage systems.

mainstream, profitable, low cost producer of lithium carbonate.

Orocobre and our strategic partner TTC are investing significantly in the world-class

The global market fundamentals for lithium

Olaroz Lithium Facility as it is a low cost, high

remain intact with strong demand growth,

margin operation with a very large resource


Australian Business Network

ERY STRONG AND SUSTAINABLE IVEN BY ONGOING DEMAND FOR T AND IMPLEMENTATION OF HOME STORAGE SYSTEMS� capable of sustaining multiple stages of

On the demand side, the end game is

expansion.

becoming clearer – for example:

We believe, and our research shows that

The UK and France have banned the sale of

the long term growth opportunities for

internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040,

lithium producers remain intact and in fact,

China is heading in the same direction, and

are continuing to strengthen. There remain

India plans to only sell EVs by 2030

significant headwinds for new production and supply additions we believe remain over-

Austria, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland,

stated.

Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Korea and Spain have all set official targets for electric car sales.

97


98

MINING | Orocobre


Australian Business Network

For example, 750,000 EVs were sold last year,

past 20 years. Just as importantly, we are

OPEC suggests that by 2040 the global vehicle

one of the lowest cost producers of lithium

fleet will include 266 million EVs, Bloomberg

chemicals in the world with a lithium

New Energy Finance suggests by 2040 there

production cost of $4,336 per tonne for

could be 530 million, or one third of all cars

the half year to Dec 31, 2017 and a gross

will be EVs

operating margin of 62%.

So, in terms of demand, the propensity to

We believe that maintaining a low cost

buy electric vehicles is rising, meaning lithium

production base will be a key competitive

prices will remain higher for longer.

advantage for any lithium producers going forward.

Orocobre is already competing in a global market against both established and emerging players. We are the first brinebased lithium producer to emerge in the

ASX:ORE

a jcr

99


Safety Monitoring and Training Solution

IRIS’s strategically mounted cameras provide complete visibility of your work site’s activity, day and night. It protects your employees in two ways - hard hat detection alerts and security tracking and warning systems keep your employees and your operations safer, while the real site-based footage can be used in training and inductions to demonstrate how to safely complete a task, before employees even step onto site. Visit our website www.iriscorp.net or email info@iriscorp.net for further information.

www.iriscorp.net | info@iriscorp.net


102

MINING | Lepidico


Australian Business Network

LEPIDICO A new source of lithium for the global battery market

103


104

MINING | Lepidico

Demand for basic materials and commodities that are crucial components in lithium-ion batteries have skyrocketed in recent years and will remain on an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future, based on numerous sweeping projections regarding the electrification of the global energy and automotive markets. However, the lithium industry is facing the prospect of a supply deficit, with many new producers scrambling to convert raw lithium into a usable end product for the battery manufacturing market. While conventional sources of lithium from brine sites in South America and spodumene hubs in Australia and Canada are currently well-poised to handle the predicted uptick in demand in the near term, a bottleneck dynamic is emerging from a lag in downstream facilities coming online and in the long term substantial sources of new supply will be required to meet anticipated burgeoning demand.

L-Max® technology L-Max® is designed to treat lithium-rich mica and phosphate mineral concentrates, using simple but highly effective leach and impurity removal processes. With only a handful of companies exploring for such unconventional sources of lithium, Lepidico’s L-Max® has the potential to be a disruptive force within the battery grade lithium production space, by bringing a new source of low cost lithium chemical to the market. The main reagent used in the L-Max° process is sulphuric acid, a common waste product from base metal smelting operations that often needs to be transported significant distances to find a market. However, Lepidico’s technology is set to put this waste chemical to good use through L-Max®, which the Australian patent office, IP Australia, has identified as a novel, inventive and industry applicable process. “From an environmental perspective the L-Max® process can be considered as a sulphuric acid sink that allows a hazardous waste product, when combined with the lithium mica feed source to be converted into a suite of valuable products,” says Lepidico’s managing director Joe Walsh.

Entering this bubbling cauldron is Lepidico,

“Crucially, it’s not just about lithium

championing its patent registered L-Max®

carbonate or lithium chemicals here,” he

process technology that successfully treats

continues. “The other advantage with L-Max®

previously overlooked lithium mica minerals

is that it produces eco-friendly by-products

into battery grade lithium chemical and a

and relatively modest quantities of benign

suite of valuable by-products.

waste.”


Australian Business Network

105


106

MINING | Lepidico

For instance, one of the by-products of

presents Lepidico with an exciting

the process is sodium silicate, which has

opportunity to offset operating costs

a huge variety of manufacturing uses and

associated with production, to the point

could alone represent nearly half of overall

where its process can be considered a

potential revenue for Lepidico, according to

zero-C1 cost method of producing lithium

Walsh.

carbonate.

This potential to make significant additional

As outlined in the Phase 1 L-MaxÂŽ plant pre-

revenue from by-products is an important

feasibility study completed last year, for a

part of the processes economics and

capex of US$40-45 million the 30,000 tonnes


Australian Business Network The Phase 1 feasibility identified up to 50,000tpa of sodium silicate at $690 a tonne, along with other by-products that could include sulphate of potash (3,0004,000tpa at $600 a tonne), as well as caesium and tantalite, the quantities of which vary depending on the feed source. Subsequently sodium sulphate has been identified as a further by-product, albeit of lower value. “Our process is conducted at atmospheric pressure and at modest temperature. The maximum temperature employed is just over 100 Celsius. Furthermore, the process is not power intensive, and employs common use industrial reagents and equipment, which make for straightforward occupational health and safety requirements.” This is where the strategic location of the Phase 1 plant, close to abundant, affordable sources of sulphuric acid, becomes important in terms of the low cost nature of the project and is why the company is looking at building its first plant in the longstanding mining town of Sudbury, in the Canadian province of Ontario. per annum (tpa) capacity plant will produce

There are two large nickel smelters in

2,500-3,000tpa of battery grade lithium

Sudbury which produce large quantities

carbonate equivalent (LCE), at an average

of sulphuric acid for export, with Lepidico

cash cost of nil after by-products are taken

almost certainly set to become the largest

into account.

local consumer of that acid.

“On a C1 cost basis, the pre-feasibility

The case for Sudbury is strengthened

study identified that the by-products have

by its well-established infrastructure

the potential to offset all operating costs,”

networks, including power, water, gas and

confirms Walsh.

rail, experienced industrial workforce, and

107


Building on its successful partnership with Lepidico, Lycopodium is delivering innovative and cutting edge lithium processing technology.

5000+ Studies 300+ Projects

W: www.lycopodium.com.au E: minerals@lycopodium.com.au

+25 Years Experience 55+ Countries


Australian Business Network

an abundance of mining related services.

mica deposits, including one with private

Sudbury is also close to active markets for

Portuguese firm Grupo Mota.

its L-Max® by-products, with the wider Great Lakes region providing a depth of market for

Under the existing ore offtake agreement

sodium silicate and potential new markets for

with Grupo Mota, lepidolite ore from the

this co-product.

Alvarroes mine in Portugal is planned to

Two-pronged Strategy

be concentrated and shipped to Canada for processing by L-Max®. “We are working

Lepidico is looking to combine a fully-

closely with Grupo Mota on furthering

integrated business model with a

this arrangement and late last year we

downstream business that will see the

announced the first mineral resource

company bring in third party feeds while

estimate for that deposit,” says Walsh.

building a global portfolio of quality lepidolite deposits.

“While modest in size at about 1.5Mt, the key here is that we don’t need a lot of tonnes to

However, owing to the rudimentary nature of

support an L-Max® plant, with this resource

lithium mica exploration and extraction, the

sufficient to provide more than 10 years feed

company has found itself poring over several

to our planned phase 1 plant in Sudbury.”

early stage lepidolite occurrences. Having said that, Lepidico has made a number of

Elsewhere, Lepidico has entered into

arrangements with the owners of lithium

arrangements over various lepidolite

109


110

MINING | Lepidico


Australian Business Network projects in Canada and Western Australia,

Aside from the potential to open up new

where drilling programmes have recently

revenue streams from hard rock lithium

commenced on the latter projects.

sources, the deal with Galaxy provided further strong validation of Lepidico’s method

Tailings retreatment represents another limb

and strategy from a major global player in the

of the upstream model. Lepidico recently

lithium space and one who’s current market

completed a successful test work programme

capitalisation stands at around $1.4 billion.

on tailings samples from the Mt Cattlin mine in Western Australia, a spodumene operation

“For any lithium development company, the

owned by Galaxy Resources, a major

backing of an incumbent industry participant

producer in the lithium sector.

provides a stamp of credibility and is a massive endorsement of the underlying

The results revealed that the L-Max® process was able to deliver attractive process

business strategy,” declares Walsh.

lithium carbonate grading of 99.8% LCE

Changing supply and demand dynamics

from lepidolite contained in the Mt Cattlin

Returning to the forces shaping the current

tailings, an impressive result for the following

dynamics in the global lithium space, demand

reasons.

for the light metal has been on a steady

recoveries of over 90% while producing

growth curve over the past decade, driven “This really demonstrates the flexibility of

by increased portable technology usage and

L-Max®. It has the capability to economically

production of devices that require lithium-ion

extract lithium chemicals from tailings

batteries.

containing relatively modest quantities of lithium-mica.

In fact, between 2006 and 2016 lithium-ion battery demand went from 10GW to nearly

“Lepidico provides a significant value-

100GW, according to metals consultancy

add opportunity for existing spodumene

Roskill. But, only in the last five years have

operations that are processing ores that

EVs emerged into the picture, with this

also contain lithium-mica and phosphate

disruptive industry set to propel lithium

minerals.

demand to new heights if current adoption projections are taken as gospel.

“Furthermore, in the case of former operating mines there may be potential to reprocess

“EVs are coming off a low base,” admits

tailings and waste dumps, which could

Walsh.

provide an environmental remediation opportunity on such sites.”

“However growth in market share is significant. More importantly though, we

111


112

MINING | Lepidico

are seeing – around the developed world

around 3,000tpa LCE, but Lepidico expects

and particularly in China – huge government

to have additional installed capacity in the

incentives to encourage EV adoption.

plant’s major capital equipment that could allow it to be efficiently expanded to 5,000-

“I think it’s going to be those initiatives that

6,000tpa LCE, although this is still quite small

are really going to underpin broad based,

given the overall market for lithium chemicals

rapid EV adoption. Particularly for urban

is currently around 200,000tpa.

usage, EVs are a very compelling mode of transport.”

However, a full-scale L-Max® plant, which will be evaluated to succeed the Phase 1

Operating on the supply side of this major

plant in the early 2020s, is expected to be

growth industry is where Lepidico hopes

considerably larger at around 20,000tpa

to thrive. At this stage, the Phase 1 plant

LCE. This would make Lepidico a globally

is about proving commercial viability of

significant producer of battery grade lithium

L-Max®, after proving the technical capability

for an industry that could well grow to a size

of the process on a continuous basis at lab

of 500,000tpa LCE by this time.

scale. “The industry is going to need numerous The Phase 1 plant has nominal capacity of

projects of this size to be able to satisfy the


Australian Business Network

current projections for demand growth,”

has tremendous support from the province

predicts Walsh.

of Ontario and the city of Sudbury for its

113

Phase 1 plant initiative. “What’s going to be most important however, is thanks to our substantial by-product

In the long term, Lepidico will look to fast-

credits and also to the relatively low cost

track the full-sale plant into operation during

reagents, Lepidico should sit in the lower part

the early 2020s, at which point it would

of the global cost curve, making it a robust

become a globally significant, vertically

producer throughout a price cycle.”

integrated lithium chemical producer.

Lepidico’s short-term aim is to get the Phase

Beyond this horizon, the company is also

1 L-Max® plant into operation by 2020,

looking to establish replica plants in other key

with the securing of all relevant permits

markets such as Europe and Asia.

and approvals being the next hurdles to overcome. Walsh assures that the company

ASX: LPD

b


FP


116

MINING | Lithium Australia NL

Li Aust

Convertin


thium tralia NL

ng waste into battery chemicals

Australian Business Network

117


118

MINING | Lithium Australia NL

Lithium Australia has been in the lithium space for about five years. It is regarded as a founding member of Australia’s modern lithium sector, built largely around a cluster of spodumene deposits in Western Australia (WA). During that time, the lithium sector has been transformed by burgeoning demand from the global lithium-ion battery (LIB) market. Australian miners have responded by establishing a number of conventional hard rock lithium mines in anticipation of a massive surge in battery consumption globally. Lithium Australia, however, has taken a long-lens view of development in the sector. Having noted that active producers discard high levels of lithium mica material as waste, the company began developing an innovative technology to effectively process that mica. “Mining for other commodities, such as tin, tantalum and tungsten, also produces quite substantial streams of lithium that are discarded as waste – not as spodumene waste but as lithium micas,” says Adrian Griffin, managing director of Lithium Australia. “One reason for this is the fact that micas contain lower grades of lithium than spodumene, and those lower grades haven’t


Australian Business Network until now been capable of covering the operating costs required for conventional processing. “We saw an opportunity to develop a processing technology that could capitalise on lower-grade lithium materials … which drove us to focus on mineral processing rather than exploration,” he explains. As a consequence, Lithium Australia has evolved into a technology play with a very clear mindset – ‘let the miners explore and extract; we’ll handle the crucial processing stage’ – and the aim of supplying enough battery chemicals to meet growing demand.

Exploration portfolio That said, Lithium Australia’s SiLeach® technology is backed by one of the largest lithium exploration portfolios in the world, which begs the question: is Lithium Australia a process developer, an explorer or both? Griffin responds by explaining Lithium Australia’s current strategy. Gaining access to waste streams lessens exposure to mining costs, because someone else has already removed the material and would otherwise discard it as waste. Although Lithium Australia can cut attractive deals with miners for their tailings, reliance on third-party feed, particularly non-lithium feeds such as tantalum, means that any price volatility could have a significant impact on supply.

119


120

MINING | Lithium Australia NL

“We decided the best way around this

“We’re very heavily invested in Australia and

potential problem was to develop an

that’s not surprising, given that this country

exploration portfolio as an insurance policy.

currently produces about 40% of the world’s

If you take the view that there’s more lithium lithium,” explains Griffin. Lithium Australia going to waste than ever gets into the supply has formed joint ventures with a number of chain, then there’s no justification for digging Australian lithium companies and has stakes another hole – but you certainly can justify

of various sizes in several WA-based projects,

being a primary producer if your supply is

along with a few in Queensland and South

interrupted.”

Australia and one in the Northern Territory.

With that in mind, Lithium Australia has

Lithium Australia also has a controlling

assembled a diverse exploration portfolio

interest in a substantial lithium clay project in

spread across major lithium provinces

Mexico and has entered into a joint venture

globally.


Australian Business Network

with Tin International AG on a project in

Roasting has also been considered the only

Germany. That project is estimated to contain way to refine hard rock lithium material into an inferred mineral resource of 25 million

usable chemicals such as lithium carbonate.

tonnes at 0.45% lithium oxide, making it an

Until recently, the process has been

enticing prospect – the lithium is contained in undertaken exclusively in China but this is mica, liberated during the extraction of tin.

SiLeachÂŽ technology

about to change, with a new refinery under construction in Perth.

Having taken the long view in the Australian

The current method of producing lithium

lithium space, Lithium Australia observed

chemicals is as follows. Spodumene is mined

that conventional processing of spodumene

in, say, Australia and shipped to China, where

concentrate incorporated an energy-intensive it is roasted at a high temperature, baked roasting stage.

in sulphuric acid and then leached with

121


122

MINING | Lithium Australia NL

Adrian Griffin, managing director


Australian Business Network water. Subsequent chemical steps refine the

“It’s important to capitalise on this potassium

solution until eventually lithium carbonate is

by-product credit. We do that by precipitating

produced.

potassium as potassium sulphate, which goes straight into the fertiliser industry, and that

“When we looked at the roasting method we

alone covers around 20-30% of the operating

concluded that, although the price of lithium

costs.”

carbonate was much lower then than it is today, you can’t roast with a feed grade that’s

Additional by-product credits to be gained

only half that of spodumene, because you

through use of the hydrometallurgical

can’t pay the energy bill,” says Griffin.

process include various aluminium chemicals and sodium silicate, with a few lesser-known

“So, the first thing was to ensure that the

chemicals also adding depth to the project

process we developed had a low energy

economics.

footprint. Then we looked at whether it’s possible to pull anything else, apart

To summarise, the low energy profile of the

from lithium, out of the resulting process

SiLeach® process is bolstered by the range of

solutions.”

commercially viable by-products that can be extracted alongside the lithium chemicals – a

The company concluded that the only

sweet combination for Lithium Australia.

way to achieve both ends was by way of a hydrometallurgical flowsheet, and that is how

Griffin believes that once by-product credits

SiLeach® was conceived.

are factored in, the company could become one of the cheapest lithium producers in

In a nutshell, the SiLeach® process involves

the world, even competing with the brine

slowly mixing lithium minerals with calcium

producers in the lithium triangle of South

fluoride before sulphuric acid is added to

America.

dissolve the mix into a recoverable form that contains several types of product, including

Pilot tests

the sought-after lithium chemicals.

Lithium Australia has developed a way of

By-products

effectively processing ‘waste’ material into lithium chemicals, but the purity of the end

As well as being a significantly cheaper

product remains an important consideration.

means of producing battery-grade lithium,

Therefore, it is not unreasonable for potential

the SiLeach® process for treating micas also

end-market users to question the purity of

creates a number of valuable by-products,

Lithium Australia’s product: anything below

including potassium sulphate. In fact, lithium

the industry benchmark of 99.5% hinders

micas typically contain 10-12% potassium

the chemical’s performance in lithium-ion

oxide, which is greater than that of contained

batteries.

lithium oxide which is generally 2-4%.

123


124

MINING | Lithium Australia NL

With that in mind, Lithium Australia has

The LSPP, to be constructed in WA, will take in

conducted a series of test-tube and bench-

feed from the Lepidolite Hill deposit located

scale tests for its SiLeach® process, as well

just South of Coolgardie. Lithium Australia

as operating a pilot plant designed and

has a joint venture with Focus Minerals at

built by the Australian Nuclear Science and

Lepidolite Hill, but the plant will also take in

Technology Organisation.

feed from another source currently being negotiated by the parties concerned.

As a result of those continuous pilot tests, says Griffin, the company has verified its

Access to the plant site, where the

ability to produce ‘battery-grade’ lithium

infrastructure required is already in place,

carbonate on a continuous basis.

including power, water and gas supplies and road and rail access, is another matter under

Lithium Australia is now ploughing ahead

discussion.

with a large-scale pilot plant (LSPP) designed on a ratio of 1:10 to the eventual full-scale

“We’re also negotiating the acquisition of

plant.

long-lead-time items for the plant,” reveals Griffin. “Construction will take around 18


Australian Business Network

months, but that time frame is dictated by

acumen. For 14 years, they researched

the delivery of those long-lead-time items.

cathode powder production technology

We anticipate seeing first production of

before setting up a world class facility in

lithium chemicals in 2020.”

Brisbane, Australia, to demonstrate cathode

VSPC

powder manufacture.

In other major news for Lithium Australia, the

“We took some of those cathode powders,

company has recently confirmed it will move

used them to produce new batteries and had

into cathode manufacturing and battery

the batteries independently tested against

recycling on the basis of its acquiring 99.7%

industry standards in a lab in Germany. They

of the Very Small Particle Company (VSPC),

outperformed industry standards.

an outfit Griffin believes is one of the most advanced cathode-powder manufacturing

“We think there’s enormous value in VSPC,

entities in the world.

and we’re rebuilding the company with a view to re-commissioning VSPC’s Brisbane pilot

VSPC was founded by a small group of

plant in the next couple of months,” Griffin

academics with considerable intellectual

reveals.

125


126

MINING | Lithium Australia NL


Australian Business Network

“WE SAW AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP A PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY THAT COULD CAPITALISE ON LOWER-GRADE LITHIUM MATERIALS … WHICH DROVE US TO FOCUS ON MINERAL PROCESSING RATHER THAN EXPLORATION” ADRIAN GRIFFIN, MANAGING DIRECTOR

Perhaps most interestingly, after some

During the last five years, then, Lithium

number crunching with respect to the

Australia has developed an innovative

logistics of battery manufacturing, Griffin

processing technology capable of

believes the most profitable part of the

transforming waste products into lithium

process lies in the final stage, in which lithium

chemicals for the voracious battery market,

carbonate becomes cathode powder.

along with several valuable by-products.

“It’s the sweet spot in the value chain, and

In addition, the company is developing an

we certainly hope we can capitalise on

ability to transform lithium chemicals into

that. Under those conditions [the venture

cathode powder through its purchase of

with VSPC], we’ll become the only company

VSPC, a move that will make it one of only a

capable of taking mine waste right through to

few fully integrated lithium cathode powder

cathode powder.”

producers in the world.

ASX:LIT

abj

127


128

MINING | Chalice Gold Mines

CHALIC GOLD

Cashed up and debt free with Canad and Australian gold assets


CE D

dian

Australian Business Network

129


130

MINING | Chalice Gold Mines

Alex Dorsch of Chalice Gold Mines traces the company’s history back to 2006 when it listed on “Here the Australian Stock Exchange, we originally owning the historic are 18 Chalice gold mine in Western months Australia. However, the CEO later and explains how it wasn’t until we’ve built the 2009 venture into Eritrea a substantial in Northern Africa that the portfolio of company was materialised, after exploration assets its acquisition of the Zara Gold in the world-class Project. Chalice advanced the domains of Canada and project over the next three years, Australia,” says Dorsch. The until a significant US$114 million CEO believes that what sets bid, lobbed by a Chinese-Eritrean Chalice apart from its exploration consortium convinced the competitors is the company’s company to sell. Using the funds combination of financial capability and broad technical and commercial from the Eritrea sale, Chalice spotted an opportunity in Canada strengths. and snapped up a gold project in Financial and technical 2012, before making a healthy profit again with a divestment in proficiency “It’s a unique business model where the 2016. company can apply its strong financial

By this point Chalice had developed a strong

position as well as its deep technical and

nous in reading the market and commodity

commercial ability to really interrogate

price cycle, with an ability to smell the right

projects quickly, pick opportune times to

time to invest in order to maximise investor

acquire and make material progress in

returns.

developing each one.”

The company changed tact slightly in 2017,

Returning to its transaction history, the sales

when the board found there was a growing

in Eritrea and Canada put the company in a

appetite for risk in the sector and decided to

commanding financial position, in that it has

build a commanding exploration portfolio,

been well cashed up and debt free ever since.

targeting discovery in Canada and Australia. This is a rare position for a junior exploration


Australian Business Network

company to find itself in; having a war chest

highly regarded industry veteran Tim Goyder.

of over AUS$40 million. Crucially, the healthy

He has a great track record of success and is

balance sheet has meant Chalice has not had

an integral part of the business as executive

to rely on capital markets and going back

chairman.

to shareholders every time it needs to raise funds to support development plans.

“Beyond that, within the wider team there is a demonstrable depth and breadth of

Dorsch also regards the board and 25-strong

experience which I think is another key driver

Chalice team as another key area of strength

of the business.�

within the business. “We have a very experienced board led by well-known and

The decision to focus its exploration portfolio

131


132

MINING | Chalice Gold Mines


Australian Business Network

on Canada and Australia ended up being

“We like the geological selling point and

a no-brainer for the board for myriad

investment certainty that comes with

reasons beyond the obvious low sovereign

mining friendly jurisdictions, so from that

risk attached to operating in these secure,

perspective it’s a very attractive proposition

mining-friendly regions.

to be operating in those countries.”

In fact, mining-friendly is a bit of an

East Cadillac Gold Project

understatement, particularly in the case of

Chalice’s flagship asset is the East Cadillac

Québec. The Canadian province rebates

Gold Project, located in the world-class Abitibi

Chalice around 30% of its direct exploration

greenstone belt in Québec along the Cadillac

expenditure and on top of that, there is no

break, which hosts over 100 million ounces

state royalty – making it a very attractive

(Moz) of gold discovered and a number of

region for exploration.

globally significant gold mines.

“It’s the endowment of both regions and

“We are in very good company and have a

their geological potential,” says Dorsch. “We

regionally significant ground position now

consider Canada and Australia world-class

covering over 27 km of strike along that

domains, with a lot more to give in terms of

break. We are very encouraged by what we

exploration potential.

have seen from the work to date.

133


134

MINING | Chalice Gold Mines


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 135 Australian Business

“We’ve only had the property for just over 18

property in October last year and have only

months and have continued to expand the

just completed that programme in early

ground holding, while undertaking a back-to-

April,” reveals Dorsch.

basics, ground-up exploration programme to give it the best chance of success in making a

From the initial phase of drilling Chalice has

substantial discovery.”

made two promising gold discoveries to date, with a large portion of results still pending

When Chalice first picked up the project, they

and a number of additional targets waiting to

noticed it had significant exploration gaps

be tested. The drilling was performed by two

and was likened to a patchwork of random

reliable international drilling contractors.

sampling and ineffective drilling. Seeing this, Chalice stepped back and began with regional “We had great support from Foraco, G4, sampling and all the modern geophysical

ALS, MRB & Associates, Abitibi Geophysics,

tools it had at its disposal, including 3D

amongst others in Val-d’Or; they have all

Induced Polarisation, aeromagnetic and

done an excellent job. To drill the best part

LIDAR surveys.

of 30,000 metres on time, under budget and without significant incident is very

“We used all of those tools successfully and

commendable, so we are really happy with

started our first phase of drilling on the

that outcome.”


136

MINING | Chalice Gold Mines


Australian Business Network

Alex Dorsch, CEO

Australian assets

“It is a difficult area to explore but we have

Turning to the Australian portfolio, Chalice

the right EM and gravity signatures on our

has established two main projects Down

block that gives us a lot of excitement about

Under: The Warrego North Project in the

exploration success,” says a hopeful Dorsch.

Northern Territory and the Pyramid Hill Gold Project in Victoria.

Chalice also recently picked up a district scale land position at Pyramid Hill, extending over

The former is located in the very well-

3,350km2 of ground North of Bendigo in

endowed Tennant Creek area in close

Victoria. Initial findings indicate that there is

proximity to several historic mines dating

a real lack of exploration under the Murray

back to the mid-20th century, including the

Basin cover in that area.

1.6Moz gold-producing Warrego Mine. This notion has been strengthened by the “We are immediately Northwest of the

Victorian government’s declaration that there

Warrego mine, a very high-grade historical

is potentially over 32Moz of gold extending

gold-copper mine in the Tennant Creek IOCG

North of Bendigo, which has given Chalice

domain. The area has many similar mines,

extra motivation to begin work on the project

all with a relatively small surficial footprint

very shortly.

but very high-grade ore bodies extending at depth.

137


138

MINING | Chalice Gold Mines

Commodity markets

acquire projects that we genuinely want to

Chalice is looking to accelerate work across

run.

all of its projects over the next 12 months but will also uphold an aggressive acquisition

“Our strategy is very much based on making

strategy.

timely acquisitions of undervalued assets and at the moment our focus is on gold and

“We are looking at upwards of 10

nickel sulphide projects.”

opportunities at any one time and enjoy the luxury of having a significant amount

Dorsch believes that macro conditions

of capital to deploy – but we always look at

shaping the gold market have not had quite

acquisitions with an owner’s mindset; we

as profound an effect on prices as usual,


Australian Business Network the cycle by the company. Hence, Chalice is keeping its ear to the ground with regards to opportunities in this space. “Ours is a distinctive and unique value proposition,” concludes Dorsch. “Typically, junior explorers don’t have the ability to operate at our level, so I like to think we have a particularly strong value proposition given we are trading around our cash backing, with a proven model based on acquiring assets at opportune times,

citing ongoing political instability in North

progressing them rapidly and delivering

Korea and the Middle East.

value to shareholders.

However, Chalice continues to monitor these

“Having that financial ability, commercial

external forces and remains bullish on gold

mindset as well as the technical ability really

and other base metals, which are viewed

does differentiate us.”

as being at the beginning of an upturn in

ASX:CHN TSX:CXN

a j

139


140

MINING SERVICES | Process IQ

PROCESS IQ Completing a turnaround in Liberia and expanding into Burkina Faso


Australian Business Network

141

Driving out hidden inefficiencies in minerals processing plants

AVESORO RESOURCES


142

MINING SERVICES | Process IQ

Process IQ was formed by Pieter Strobos and Daniel van der Spuy after the South African duo emigrated to Australia in 2000 and 2006 respectively. The directors of the company have been involved in the mining industry for the vast majority of their professional careers, crossing paths at Mintek South Africa before they decided to set up a process control and instrumentation service company based in Perth in 2011. Process IQ has achieved triple-digit growth annually since then and is now well-known and respected in the mining industry.

‘technology exhaustion’ from the hail of silver bullets out there,” says Strobos. “Process IQ fulfil the role of ‘technology integrator’, assessing many different technologies and applying appropriate solutions for mining companies. “Since the personnel at Process IQ are proficient in a wide variety of technologies, we can provide efficient support services to mines, particularly remote operations. “The majority of the measurement techniques we supply are unique. For example: fast online measurement of cyanide (Cynoprobe), carbon concentration, dissolved oxygen and pH in CIP gold plants and elemental analyses (like Ni, Cu, C and sulphur with Blue Cube MQi) and particle size measurement in flotation plants.

A large degree of Process IQ’s clients stretch back over 17 years to when Strobos first

“We also assist in introducing unique and

settled in Australia. The firm’s business

improved measurement control techniques

director tells AusBN how Process IQ has

in SAG and Ball milling circuits.”

developed into a client–focused mining technology and service business that

An example of one of the company’s most

understands minerals processing and is

recent products is MillSlicer. “Vibration

continually sourcing the best technologies

technology is used to analyse the impact on

that can be applied to the mining industry to

the mill shell, and from that we can provide

solve problems.

the operators with a visual presentation of what’s going on inside their mills as well as

Process IQ is unique in that it not only uses

five additional signals that has never before

traditional technology but is at the forefront

been used in mills.

of developing and applying emerging technology related to Industry 4.0 in the

“This can have a substantial economic impact

mining industry.

on mines as it has a direct influence on throughput and liner wear of mills.”

“Some mining companies often suffer from


Australian Business Network

143


144

MINING SERVICES | Process IQ

In fact, Strobos reveals that some clients

companies, for instance to optimise grinding

have reported throughput improvements

circuits.

of between 10-20% after combining this technology with their advanced

“Through our remote monitoring capability,

control algorithms. This is a significant

we can provide expert data analyses and

operational improvement that could make

support services to mining clients anywhere

a huge difference to a company’s financial

in the world in real time.

performance. “Many suppliers of cloud-based systems start MillSlicer was developed by the firm’s US

their presentations with ‘imagine’ while we

partner, Digital Control Lab, and Process IQ is actually do solve real-life problems for the registered as distributor of the technology in

mining industry,” says Strobos.

Australia, South East Asia, Russia and Africa. Process IQ currently services many gold, base “We have skills that cover the full spectrum of metal, battery mineral, mineral sands as well automation and optimisation, including basic as iron ore mines, working with brownfields and specialised instrumentation through to

and greenfields sites.

advanced control systems and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms with

As a first step, Process IQ will typically visit

artificial intelligence (AI) for monitoring and

an existing plant to conduct a detailed review

optimisation.

of the operation. This may include a gap analyses on the existing instrumentation

“In Perth we have experts in every aspect

and control infrastructure, talking to site

of minerals processing - from design

personnel, collecting data and identifying

through to operations and support. Process

opportunities to improve throughput,

IQ collaborate with other METS (Mining,

recovery and efficiency.

Equipment, Technology and Services)


Australian Business Network

“For study managers of greenfields projects,

processing plant is a significant expense for

we advise thinking about ‘The Digital Mine’

a miner, through losses of valuable metals in

early on - typically before the detailed

the tails or inefficient or sub-optimal use of

feasibility study (DFS) phase. Process IQ can

equipment, power or reagents.

assist by specifying the Basis of Design at this early stage to ensure the process and control

The problem is that these types of losses

system design of new mines are future-

don’t appear on quarterly or annual financial

proof.”

statements, therefore it is often difficult to account for internally and can easily be

Several factors can affect the safety and

ignored. However, it is just as important for

performance of metallurgical processing

productivity to audit these types of losses as

plants, including mineralogy, feed grade, the

the more obvious ones.

age of equipment and instrumentation, level of process control, skill level of operators and Through the application of digital remote managers – as well as their ability to harness

data analytics, Process IQ can solve process

data and turn it into useful information to

problems even before the client becomes

drive decisions.

aware of it.

It is Process IQ’s role to evaluate these key

The manual handling of data is a big problem

performance indicators and provide cost-

in the mining industry, according to Strobos,

effective solutions to inefficiencies or unsafe

with platforms such as IoT and AI forming

work practices.

part of a natural solution to the manual data problem.

Mining companies need a social license to operate, and part of this is being sustainable

This is another key area of business for

- namely being good stewards of the earth’s

Process IQ, which is a vital consideration

natural resources. An inefficient mine or

amongst metallurgical mills and plants. In

145


146

MINING SERVICES | Process IQ

“Some mining companies can often suffer from ‘technology exhaustion’ from the hail of silver bullets out there. Process IQ can assist by fulfilling the role of ‘technology integrator’ Pieter Strobos, business director


Resource GlobalNetwork Network 147 Australian Business many cases, plant operators continue to

efficiencies and reduce errors and downtime

persist with manual measurements and

on equipment.”

laborious filling in of manual log sheets to record data. These are often shelved and

Strobos believes that the biggest novel

seldom looked at. This information could

development made by Process IQ is the

be valuable if it were automated, digitised,

IoT platform and the application of AI. The

analysed and used in process control.

business director hopes that the company can lead the process of digitisation in the

Process IQ is spearheading the transition

mining sector, which is currently lagging

towards digitisation of data in the mineral

behind advanced manufacturing and other

processing industry through its automated

industries in terms of automation and

analysers, IoT platform and application of

machine learning.

machine learning. The mining industry is faced with several “One example is working with a client to get

unique challenges such as unpredictable

their data directly from the lab into our cloud- feed materials, which make automation based platform where it can be integrated

challenging. To some extent, mineral

with other plant data for viewing, analyses

processing absorbs a lot of the natural

and optimisation.”

variability, making it easier for downstream processing.

In support of its digitised data handling services, Process IQ offers a wide range of

However, a lot of technology has been

measurement devices to help operators

developed over recent years that can now

augment other information such as in-field

also be applied in mining to handle this

status and availability of equipment.

variability through online measurement and machine learning.

“The use of cloud-based services enables us to cross traditional boundaries and

Finally, Strobos has a simple message for

access information from sources such

any METS companies: “Partner with us in

as design drawings, asset management,

your digital transformation journey to help

process control, part procurement and

improve mining.”

availability, operators shift information, etc. This information can greatly enhance

a j


APPOINTMENTSAND ANDEVENTS EVENTS 148 APPOINTMENTS 148

APPOINTMENTS Ian Lynass to lead Tempo Australia ASX-listed construction firm Tempo Australia has appointed Ian Lynass as its new chief executive officer replacing Max Bergomi, who held the position for over two years. “We are very pleased to announce Ian’s appointment, said chairman Carmelo Bontempo. “He brings global experience to our management team and a track record of building high-performing companies.” Lynass has worked in the defence, steel, petrochemical, mining and industrial services markets for over 25 years and joined Tempo in January as vice president strategy and corporate development.

Myer takes on British retail veteran to help save department store Beleaguered department store Myer has brought in British retail veteran John King to lead a vital turnaround effort. King replaces Richard Umbers in the chief executive role, who stepped down in February. Since then, chairman Garry Hounsell has served as the company’s interim leader. King was chief executive of UK department store House of Fraser for eight years. During this time he restructured the business before selling to a Chinese conglomerate in 2014.

Ride-sharing platform Ola appoints new Australian MD Ola, a ride-sharing platform, has strengthened its presence in Australia with the appointment of former eBay Australia CEO Simon Smith as managing director. Smith will head and develop the leadership team at Ola, playing a pivotal role in building its presence by driving strategy, marketing, product development and customer service. Ola is currently available in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and the Gold Coast and shortly will launch in Adelaide.

Junior cobalt explorer appoints former Glencore executive to board ASX-listed junior Jervois Mining has appointed former Glencore executive Peter Johnston to its board of directors. Johnston has over 35 years of operational and project development experience and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading mining executives, serving as head of global nickel assets for Glencore from 2013 to 2015. Jervois is developing the Nico Young nickel cobalt project in New South Wales along with its royalties and investment portfolio.


Australian Business Network

EVENTS

Vic Tourism Conference July 30 – 31 Melbourne Victorian Major Projects Conference September 4 – 5 Melbourne HR Tech Summit September 19 Sydney Precious Metals Investment Symposium October 3 - 4 Perth International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) Melbourne October 29 – 1 November

Want to promote your event? E-mail your event to jacob@ausbn.com.au

149 149


AusBN | Vol 4 Iss 1  
New