IronRidge derisking through diverse discoveries

Successful explorer IronRidge Resources (AIM: IRR) is taking a big picture, strategic approach as it moves to create shareholder value, through the discovery and development of province-scale gold and lithium projects in Africa.

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IronRidge derisking through diverse discoveries IronRidge derisking through diverse discoveries IronRidge derisking through diverse discoveries IronRidge derisking through diverse discoveries IronRidge derisking through diverse discoveries

Drilling at the Ewoyaa discovery, IronRidge’s lithium project in Ghana

The Australia-based junior has notched up a successful exploration track record with three discoveries in three jurisdictions in three years.

The company offers a balance to investors through exposure to gold, seen as a traditional safe haven investment in geopolitically uncertain times, and the emergence of new technologies such as electric vehicles via its lithium portfolio.

It has systematically curated a spread of large-scale, highly prospective lithium and gold assets in both emerging frontiers and established mining jurisdictions in Africa.

The company's focus on Africa stems from its belief that's where the next big discoveries will be made, CEO Vincent Mascolo explains.

Its key projects are gold in Chad, lithium in pro-mining Ghana, and both gold and lithium in Côte d'Ivoire.

Rounding out its current portfolio are iron ore interests in Gabon and both bauxite and gold projects in Australia.

Multiple discoveries, multiple commodities

The Cape Coast lithium project in Ghana contains IronRidge's second discovery and has taken precedence over its initial bauxite discovery in Australia.

Mascolo is enthusiastic about Cape Coast's potential, citing its proximity to infrastructure and first quartile cost projections.

It lies within 110km of the deep sea port of Takoradi, is 1km from a major highway and adjacent grid power.

Cape Coast contains the Ewoyaa deposit, Abonko discovery and historical Egyasimanku Hill deposit, which has a non-JORC compliant 1.48 million tonne historical deposit grading 1.66% Li2O with the deepest hole drilled to 30m only.

The hard rock lithium project has revealed potential world-class drill intersections, including 128m at 1.21% Li2O from 3m at Ewoyaa and more recently, excellent metallurgical results.

IronRidge has produced high-grade 6.29% Li2O spodumene concentrate with low-level contaminants, produced by simple crushing and gravity dense media separation without the need for flotation treatment, pointing towards low capital intensity.

The company is aiming to produce a maiden resource for Cape Coast within months.

First mover advantage

alt='Gold nuggets from IronRidge’s license areas in Chad' Gold nuggets from IronRidge's license areas in Chad

IronRidge's third discovery is a large-scale gold mineralised province in Chad, where thanks to its first mover advantage it's been able to secure 40km of prospective strike.

The country has infrastructure courtesy of the historical focus on oil but it has seen little modern mining exploration, with extensive, nugget-producing artisanal workings indicating the gold potential.

The Dorothe discovery has a 3km by 1km footprint and has revealed trench intersections including 84m at 1.66g/t gold, while the highly prospective Kalaka licence indicates potential repetitions of Dorothe's mineralised system.

Offsetting its gold portfolio in the emerging mining jurisdiction of Chad, IronRidge earlier this year acquired the Zaranou gold license in Côte d'Ivoire, a country better understood by investors and host to operations including Barrick Gold's Tongon mine.

High-grade rock chip samples at Zaranou have returned up to 69.6g/t gold from early-stage reconnaissance.

Mascolo said the high-grade results were significant as gold mineralisation was encountered in both schists and quartz veins, providing confidence in broader mineralised intervals within host rock amenable to bulk mining techniques.

Aircore drilling and regional soil sampling is slated to begin this quarter after the wet season ends.

Strong backing

The company has put together experienced, on-the-ground teams including geoscientists in each African jurisdiction to drive its projects.

Board and management are also invested in the IronRidge's success, holding a combined 9.3% interest.

It is further backed by key global industry players on its share registry, who can support the company in its progress from exploration and discovery through to development, production and sales.

IronRidge's major shareholders are South African mining specialist Assore, ASX-listed project generator and explorer DGR Global and global mining and trading conglomerate Sumitomo.

Mascolo was instrumental in raising £9.7m for IronRidge's admission to AIM on February 2015 and securing Sumitomo and Assore as cornerstone investors.

alt='IronRidge Resources CEO Vincent Mascolo' IronRidge Resources CEO Vincent Mascolo

He's also on the board of DGR Global, which counts successful Ecuador explorer SolGold among its stable of companies.

"The fact we have big players supporting the business and management is a vote of confidence," Mascolo said.

Strategic partnerships

IronRidge's strategic partnership approach has also seen it strike a US$4 million drilling for equity deal in Africa for its gold and lithium portfolios.

It entered a binding memorandum of understanding last month with leading drill company GeoDrill for up to 40,000m of drilling, with 50% of the cost up to the value of $4 million to be issued in shares.

Mascolo said the agreement enabled IronRidge to advance all its projects in Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Chad while helping preserve cash resources.

"GeoDrill brings decades of operational expertise throughout West Africa and, with operational centres in both Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, provides excellent synergies with the company's current jurisdictions of focus," he said.

Drilling is underway in Ghana and drill planning is in progress for Côte d'Ivoire and Chad.

In another demonstration of its strategic partnership approach, IronRidge recently held a well-received meeting with several European and Japanese car manufacturers to present its lithium project in Ghana.

The company is in discussions with vehicle manufacturers and other interested parties to discuss its lithium projects with a view of securing product offtake and pathway to production investment.

Derisking with diverse potential

IronRidge isn't resting on its exploration success to date and believes more is yet to come.

alt='Large scale artisanal workings at IronRidge’s Zaranou license area in Côte d’Ivoire' Large scale artisanal workings at IronRidge's Zaranou license area in Côte d'Ivoire

Mascolo describes West Africa as a new lithium frontier, points to further gold exploration upside in Chad and cites the under-explored yet hugely prospective Birimian terrain in Côte d'Ivoire.

Aside from its three discoveries, the company currently has six other province scale projects under development and is proving its ability to move quickly to focus on value-accretive assets.

Meanwhile, its focus on lithium and gold offers investors exposure to the forecast increase in technology markets and a hedge against global economic uncertainty.

Investors can expect a strong news flow in the coming months as IronRidge's drilling programmes get underway and further derisking, testwork and presentations to EV manufacturers help propel its projected large-scale, low-cost lithium project in Ghana.

"We're creating shareholder value through discovery and development of province-scale gold and lithium portfolios, which afford investors significant upside," Mascolo concluded.

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HEAD OFFICE:

SHARES ON ISSUE:

  • 311.1 million

MARKET CAP (at September 3, 2019):

  • £48 million

DIRECTORS:

  • Alistair McAdam
  • Stuart Crow
  • Vincent Mascolo
  • Neil Herbert
  • Nicholas Mather
  • Kieran Daly
  • Tetsunosuke Miyawaki

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS:

  • Sumitomo Corporate – 10.2%
  • Assore Limited – 31%
  • DGR Global Limited – 22%
  • Board & Management – 9.3%

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category-img

HEAD OFFICE:

SHARES ON ISSUE:

  • 311.1 million

MARKET CAP (at September 3, 2019):

  • £48 million

DIRECTORS:

  • Alistair McAdam
  • Stuart Crow
  • Vincent Mascolo
  • Neil Herbert
  • Nicholas Mather
  • Kieran Daly
  • Tetsunosuke Miyawaki

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS:

  • Sumitomo Corporate – 10.2%
  • Assore Limited – 31%
  • DGR Global Limited – 22%
  • Board & Management – 9.3%