Dr Mike Jones, the Managing Director of Impact Minerals Limited (ASX: IPT), talks about a Western Australian High Purity Alumina project in this Coffee with Samso 175.
The HPA (High Purity Alumina) story has so far eluded the Samso journey, but now Impact Minerals Limited (ASX: IPT) is here with us to share in our coffee chat. The HPA story requires an understanding of a whole different pool of facts.
Although the HPA story is not something new, it does bring a whole different complexion to Impact Minerals.
When you hear Dr. Mike Jones describing the story, you may feel at first that this is a simple project. You are not wrong, but to me, it is far from simple. Look a little deeper and you'll see that this is one of those projects that is niche enough to make it work.
Impact Minerals is now embarking on a different journey. This new project is almost ready for the production story. They are finalising the drilling to produce the all important JORC Mineral Resource which will be the first step in cultivating a production story.
Listen to our coffee conversation with Dr. Mike Jones here:
Get to know Impact Minerals Limited (ASX: IPT)
Impact Minerals has been around for a long time. Impact is a company that has projects that would be a major project in any other ASX companies. I'm thinking specifically about the Broken Hill and the Arkun project.
The Broken Hill project is a Ni-Cu-PGE project (Figure 1 and Figure 2) is located 20km from the world class Broken Hill silver-lead-zinc mine in New South Wales.
The geology at the Broken Hill project is one that has a lot of possibilities which is what you want from a project. I have been looking at their projects from afar for a while.
Impact has shown that the very high grade palladium and platinum mineralisation at the Red Hill, Platinum Springs and Moorkaie Prospects and the Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) mineralisation at the Copper Blow Prospect (ASX:SCI) are hosted by and related to alkaline magmatic rocks (Figure 2), (ASX Announcement 13th December 2018).
Figure 2: Location of alkaline magma trends in the Broken Hill area. The Little Broken Hill to Moorkaie Trend contains rocks of potassic ultramafic to alkaline gabbro composition. The Copper Flat to Staurolite Ridge Trend contains rocks of alkaline gabbro to carbonatite composition. An offset of the Copper Blow Trend is interpreted to the south of the Thackeringa Fault Zone. (Source: Impact Minerals Limited)
The Arkun project (Figure 3) which covers about 850 square kilometres is between York and Corrigin, which is approximately 100 km east of Perth. The project was first identified as an area of anomalous nickel-copper-gold anomalies in publicly available regional geochemistry data sets.
What I like about this project is that it is now considered to be in a mobile belt that is prospective for "Julimar" type mineralisation. The discovery of Julimar has now opened up this whole region.
A subsequent interpretation of regional magnetic data by Impact has identified the area as lying within a major deformation zone or mobile belt that trends NW-SE from the Moora-Julimar-Yarawindah area through Arkun and which may contain deformed and metamorphosed equivalents of those rocks.
This belt is generally not recognised in many regional geology maps and yet is self-evident in the magnetic data. This is a significant breakthrough in understanding for Impact Minerals Limited.
The BHP Xplor Program
Impact Minerals was recently chosen to participate in the BHP Xplor program with their Broken Hill project. The participation is a recognition of the quality of the project and the amount of good work completed by the company.
Think about the number of projects that would have to be submitted, and to be selected is a testament of something positive.
The Lake Hope HPA Project will change the future of Impact Minerals Limited.
The Lake Hope Project covers numerous prospective salt lakes between Hyden and Norseman in southern Western Australia, a Tier One jurisdiction (Figure 4). The project covers about 238 sqkm and are all owned by the vendor, Playa One.
The Lake Hope area has unique climatic and geological characteristics that have resulted in the formation of what is probably a globally unique deposit of aluminium-rich material within the surficial clay layers of two small salt lakes, or “pans”, in the Lake Hope playa system.
The lake clays, which are only up to a few metres thick, have unique chemical and physical properties and consist almost entirely of aluminium-bearing minerals that are plasticine-like in consistency and can be easily sampled with hand-held augers and push tubes (Figure 5).
In addition, particle size distribution analysis demonstrates that virtually all the minerals are less than 16 microns and 60% to 80% occur at grain sizes of less than 5 microns (Figure 6).
These unique characteristics have produced a near-perfect mineral deposit: a very high-value end product whose parent ore is:
Very soft and shallow, allowing for extremely cheap free-digging with limited infrastructure requirements, no pre-stripping, no selective mining, a tiny environmental footprint, and limited rehabilitation requirements.
Naturally fine-grained with no need for crushing and grinding, allowing for transport to an offsite processing facility that can be built on existing industrial sites (Figure 4). In essence, this is Direct Shipping Ore (DSO).
Comprised of a few minerals that require only simple washing before acid leaching, thus allowing for low-cost straightforward metallurgical processing.
The change in business for Impact makes a lot of sense. The introduction of the Lake Hope project will move Impact Minerals into the production part of the industry very quickly. As we all know, in the exploration game, discovery of an economical resource is very difficult. The path to production is another hurdle many small juniors will never cross.
What I like about Impact are their "Other" projects. There is a lot I like about the new HPA label. However, one cannot discard the potential of the Broken Hill and also the Arkun projects. There is hard-to-measure value in the potential of these projects.
I have always considered the HPA as too hard. However, after listening to Mike sharing his thoughts and strategy with the Lake Hope project, I am changing my narrative. To be honest, I have not really looked into the details but I have got some idea now.
Simplistically, the HPA story appears to be about processing. The mining part seems to be easy. This is what I took away from listening to Mike, and his confidence, I feel, comes from the fact that Lake Hope is a unique deposit. It is one of those projects that tick the boxes that we all dream about.
When you look at this project Lake Hope, what I see is that, at this stage of the game, Impact has been lucky. They got this project which appears to have all the hallmarks of a "Perfect Project". Yes, we all know about the things that can and will go wrong with the path to production, but I think when you listen to Mike speak about the ups and downs, you will come to the same thought - "Could this be true?".
When the time comes where we get the answer to that question, I would rather be in the group that has the position to lose than the group that is fighting for a position. My philosophy has always been that I'd rather lose something than regret not being able to win. Welcome to the Mineral Exploration game. Remember the golden rule - always DYOR.
Tune in to Mike's thoughts here.
01:37 The Impact Minerals Limited story.
06:28 HPA - Potential big player in the industrial minerals market.
09:19 The deposit and metallurgical process of extracting HPA.
12:13 What is special about the Lake Hope Project?
18:49 The assay results in Lake Hope.
21:15 What is 4N high purity alumina?
23:50 Advantages and challenges of the alumina deposit.
28:07 The chemistry consistency of alumina grades.
31:27 The competitive advantage of Lake Hope area.
32:45 The challenges of being in the HPA space.
35:06 A low cost producer of HPA.
37:29 News flow.
40:29 The advantage of leapfrogging the discovery phase.
44:32 Why Impact Minerals Limited?
About Dr Mike Jones
Qualifications: PhD, MAIG
Dr Jones completed undergraduate and post-graduate studies in Mining and Exploration Geology at Imperial College, London. His Ph.D work on gold mineralisation saw him move to Western Australia in 1988 to work for Western Mining Corporation exploring for gold and nickel deposits in the Yilgarn.
From 1994 he consulted to the exploration and mining industry specialising in the integration of geological field mapping and the interpretation of geochemical, geophysical and remotely sensed data for target generation.
Dr Jones has worked on over 80 projects both in greenfields and near mine exploration in a wide variety of mineralised terrains and was the founding director of Lithofire Consulting Geologists in Perth, Australia.
He was also the team leader during the discovery of a significant gold deposit at the Higginsville Mining Centre, near Kalgoorlie and an iron ore deposit near Newman, both in Western Australia.
About Impact Minerals Minerals Limited
Impact Minerals Limited (ASX: IPT) is an exploration company listed on the ASX in November 2006.
The Company manages extensive tenement holdings (>4,000 km2) within Australia featuring significant potential for high-grade mineral deposits of gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, nickel and PGMs.
The Directors of the Company have extensive experience in mineral exploration and a strong history of exploration success, business development and corporate management.
Impact Minerals intends to build wealth for its shareholders through a vigorous campaign of project generation and evaluation with the aim of building profitable mining operations.
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