Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT) is an exploration and development mining company focusing on discovering and developing new resource projects within Australia. Lake Hope, a recent transformational acquisition by the company and its current flagship asset, is a high-purity alumina (HPA) project in Impact’s home territory of Western Australia, a tier-one jurisdiction. This advanced-stage project allows the company to fast-track the asset towards development and puts the company firmly on the road to production and increasing shareholder value.
HPA is a high-value product with various uses in several industries that are key to the transition to a low-carbon world. Its main uses are in LED lighting, micro-LED screens, and as ceramic-coated separators in lithium-ion batteries. Both these markets are forecast to grow dramatically over the next decade, and a looming supply shortage is predicted for 2026. HPA is also necessary for producing synthetic sapphire and scratch-resistant glass. With these ever-widening applications for HPA, demand for this resource has increased with an estimated compounded annual growth rate of 22.2 percent between 2023 and 2030
Lake Hope is the company’s current focus as it moves towards production, and where a very shallow, high-grade resource of HPA precursor material has been identified in the top two meters of a dry salt lake. The deposit has unique physical and chemical properties that will allow for inexpensive digging and mining, with transportation to a processing facility off-site in an established industrial area, enabling the acceleration of production. Impact is currently focused on lodging a Mining Lease Application in Q3 2023. The company aims to bring Lake Hope, which contains about 1 million tonnes of potential HPA, into production when the forecast average price for 4N HPA (99.99 percent AL203) and related products is about US$20,000 per tonne. The ‘4N’ designation indicates the purity grade, making it suitable for high-tech end uses.
Impact Minerals is also one of the inaugural cohort of seven companies selected to be part of the prestigious BHP Xplor program. BHP Xplor, an accelerator program introduced by BHP in August 2022, is designed to help provide participants with the opportunity to accelerate their growth and the potential to establish a long-term partnership with BHP and its global network of partners.
Impact will receive up to US$500,000 in cash payments from BHP between January and June 2023, and gain access to a network of internal and external experts to help guide development in the company’s technical, business and operational aspects.
The BHP Xplor funding will be used to identify new target areas for copper and other energy metals around the Broken Hill area in New South Wales, eastern Australia, where Impact has been quietly adding to its ground position for several years.
Additionally, the company is exploring its large Arkun battery metals project, also in Western Australia. The company has completed a significant exploration campaign at its Arkun project, reporting encouraging results of nickel, copper, PGMs and lithium-caesium-tantalum. Targets are currently being defined with the aim of drill testing in late 2023 and early 2024.
Impact’s diverse project portfolio is supported by a strong cash position following a recent successful capital raising of $4 million which was strongly supported by the company’s two major German shareholders. In addition, the company has skilled management and a strong board that will support continued exploration and development across the portfolio.
“In trying to reduce the risk, it’s the case nowadays where you need to take a scientific approach to what you’re doing. One of the big changes in the industry over the past ten years is that it’s now a lot easier and cheaper to generate a great amount of data. So, we’ve been recognised for our technical excellence,” said Dr Mike Jones, managing director at Impact Minerals, in an interview.
A strong management team with over 50 years of combined industry experience leads the company. With a mining and exploration geology degree, Jones launched a long career consulting and leading mining organizations. Peter Unsworth, the non-executive chairman, has more than 35 years of experience in multiple financial sectors, such as securities industries and wealth management. Paul Ingram, a non-executive director, has led several mining companies since 2003. Impact Minerals has the experience and expertise to lead the company to success.
- Impact Minerals is an exploration and development mining company focused on rapidly moving its flagship asset, the advanced Lake Hope high-purity alumina (HPA) project, towards production.
- HPA is used throughout multiple industries, and the overall HPA market is projected to grow by a CAGR of 22.2 percent by 2030.
- Impact Minerals is planning to lodge a Mining Lease Application later in 2023.
- The company’s project portfolio also includes assets with high-grade mineral deposits of a range of base, critical and precious metals.
- The company is also exploring its Broken Hill copper project in New South Wales under the auspices of the BHP Xplor program.
- Impact Mineral’s 2,000-square-mile Arkun nickel-copper-PGE project in Western Australia has produced encouraging assays motivating further exploration.
- A strong management team leads the company with experience in geology, mining and corporate finance.
Lake Hope HPA Project
Impact Minerals’ Lake Hope HPA project is in Western Australia, a tier-one mining jurisdiction. HPA is a crucial component in many new and emerging technologies, creating ongoing demand for high-grade sources. The Lake Hope project has become the company’s flagship as it moves towards production.
- Significant Resource Potential: While not JORC-compliant, early estimates indicate Lake Hope contains 2.4 to 4.7 million tonnes at 24.3 percent to 26.7 percent for a contained 629,000 to 1.25 million tonnes of AI203 (high purity alumina). The company will produce a JORC-compliant estimate as exploration continues.
- Amenable to Open-pit Mining: The Lake Hope project is a unique HPA asset amenable to shallow, open-pit mining. The deposit is soft and shallow, allowing for cheap digging and minimal infrastructure requirement. This type of deposit also lowers the environmental footprint of the operation.
- Fast-tracked to Production: The company is currently awaiting its Mining Lease Application. Once granted, the company will begin working towards a pre-feasibility study and mini pilot plant. Impact Minerals plans to reach a complete pilot plant by 2026.
Broken Hill Copper Project
The Broken Hill project has a significant land position of 815 square kilometers and hosts multiple targets with the potential for high-grade copper. Broken Hill is located in New South Wales, Australia, an area known for its prolific silver-lead-zinc mining operations and the giant Broken Hill deposit.
- Participant in the BHP Xplor Program: Impact was selected for the BHP Xplor program based on its Broken Hill project. The program is designed to allow participants to accelerate growth and establish a long-term partnership with BHP. Impact Minerals will receive up to US$500,000 from BHP.
- Potential for Additional Minerals and Deposits: As well as copper, the project has significant exploration potential for magmatic nickel-copper-PGE sulphides, and at the time the host rocks were formed, Broken Hill was located close to the world-class nickel-copper-PGE deposit of Jinchuan and the significant Lengquisheng deposit. The project area also has the potential to contain zinc-lead-silver deposits, providing even more value.
Arkun Nickel-Copper-Gold-Lithium-REE Project
The Arkun project is a 2,000-square-kilometer nickel, copper and gold project located in the emerging Ni-Cu-PGE province near the world-class Julimar Ni-Cu-PGE deposit and surrounded by Anglo American Corporation, which secured its ground holding shortly after Impact secured its asset. Anglo-American is one of the world’s top ten mining companies, and their presence in the region brings confidence in the project’s potential.
- Additional Exploration Underway: Impact plans follow-up work programmes, including drilling, at its priority targets.
- Encouraging Geological units: Impact Minerals’ early geochemical survey campaigns indicated the presence of nickel, copper and gold anomalies, as well as lithium and rare earth element anomalies throughout the project area, which has never been explored before.
Peter Unsworth – Non-executive Chairman
Peter Unsworth, formerly a chartered accountant, has over 35 years of experience in the corporate finance, investment and securities industries and a wealth of management experience with public and private companies. A former executive director with a leading Western Australian stockbroking company, Unsworth has been a director of several public exploration and mining companies. He recently completed a long time serving as chairman of the Western Australian Government-owned Gold Corporation (operator of The Perth Mint). Unsworth is the founding chairman of Impact Minerals.
Dr Mike Jones – Managing Director
Dr Mike Jones is the founding managing director of Impact Minerals Limited, which was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in November 2006. Reporting to the board of directors, he is responsible for the company’s performance as it moves towards production at its Lake Hope High Purity Alumina Project and also for implementing strategies to explore and maximize the value of the company’s other extensive tenement holdings.
Since listing, he has helped raise more than $60 million to help fund the exploration of Impact’s projects and managed the company through significant adverse events, including the global financial crisis and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which affected Impact’s considerable investment in the uranium sector, a five-year global downturn in the mining sector and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, he identified and negotiated the staged acquisition of an 80-percent interest in a globally unique high purity alumina (HPA) deposit in the tier-one jurisdiction of Western Australia. The deposit is world-class in several aspects, and the deal has put Impact firmly on the road to production over the next few years. This project will be Impact’s focus in the future.
Paul Ingram – Non-executive Director
Paul Ingram is a geologist with extensive experience managing major mineral exploration programs for several publicly listed companies and has been involved in the mining sector for over thirty years. He has designed and implemented innovative techniques for exploration in remote areas and has managed projects in countries throughout Australia and East Asia. Ingram has been a director of the following listed companies in the past three years:
Dr Frank Bierlein – Non-executive Director
Dr Frank Bierlein is a geologist with 30 years of experience as a consultant, researcher, lecturer and industry professional. Bierlein has held exploration and generative geology management positions with QMSD Mining Co Ltd, Qatar Mining, Afmeco Australia and Areva NC, and consulted for, among others, Newmont Gold, Resolute Mining, Goldfields International, Freeport McMoRan, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. He is currently a non-executive director of PNX Metals Ltd. He was previously a non-executive director of Gold Australia NL and chaired the advisory board of a Luxembourg-based private equity fund between 2014 and 2021.
Bernard Crawford – Company Secretary
Bernard Crawford is a finance and governance professional with over 25 years of experience in the resources industry in Australia and overseas. He has held various finance, governance and management positions with NYSE, TSX and ASX-listed companies. Crawford holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Business Administration from London Business School. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Governance Institute of Australia.