Citronen represents one of the largest undeveloped zinc resources in the world with a granted Mining Licence located in a mining supportive and low sovereign risk environment. The Citronen Project is currently moving towards development funding. We consider that the robust Citronen deposit remains open to further mineralisation in many directions and that Ironbark is peerless on the ASX.
As our stakeholders will be aware, Ironbark was required to complete a feasibility study before it was able to lodge the application for a Mining Licence. The Mining Licence was recently granted but has taken longer than initially anticipated to finalise and Ironbark is now working on updating the costs relating to the Feasibility Study. A current Feasibility Study is required to conclude financing activities. Ironbark appointed CPC Project Design (CPC), an Australian engineering contracting group to both assist Ironbark working with China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd ("NFC") on the Citronen project and also to update the Feasibility Study in a traditional Western format. This updated document is expected to be completed in late August, 2017.
During the quarter:
- Progressed with NFC to provide a capital and operating cost update to the feasibility study and advance the project towards financing and construction. A large proportion of the work has been completed.
- Continued discussions with banks and banking advisors to pursue alternative funding pathways
- Zinc stockpiles continue to fall and the zinc price remains at very strong levels
Ironbark is working with NFC under an agreement to:
- Incorporate current Chinese equipment and construction costs into the Citronen Feasibility Study
- Prepare a project study report in compliance with the financing requirement of China's banks
- Ensure the technical criteria is in compliance with local laws, regulations, standards and codes in Greenland and China
- Assist Ironbark in securing Chinese project debt financing for the development of Citronen under the terms of the earlier Memorandum of Understanding
Ironbark is working towards advancing the financing and development of Citronen as it progresses to become one of the world's largest zinc mining companies. Ironbark selected NFC as providing the most technically capable, rapid and competitive construction engineers to deliver a turnkey, fixed price EPC solution to developing and commissioning Citronen. Moving beyond the existing Memorandum of Understanding with NFC, Ironbark will see the Citronen Feasibility Study updated and tailored to meet the Chinese banking requirements that will target 70% debt financing and provide NFC with an option to acquire up to 19.9% of the Citronen project. Recently discussions have included exploring options for even higher levels of financing from China.
During the quarter NFC made excellent progress towards the review, re-costing and preparation of the Feasibility Study report into a Chinese format that is "in compliance with the approval by the Chinese Government and the financing requirements by the Chinese banking sector". Work completed includes an independent resource estimation, mining studies and process and flowsheet studies. As part of the review a further site visit is planned in early August with a delegation from NFC as well as the Greenland Minister for Mines, Mr. Mute Egede and the Deputy Minister for Mines, Mr. Jorgen Hammeken-Holm.
In addition to progressing the financing plan through the NFC pathway, as discussed above, Ironbark continued planning and holding discussions with major international banking groups and corporate advisors to provide alternative financing options. The Citronen project location in Europe makes it a candidate for European Export Credit Agency (ECA) finance funding as well as traditional debt and equity financing options. These options will require the completion of the updated Feasibility costs before they can be advanced any further. Ironbark will provide further details surrounding this work in the near future.
"Falling zinc warehouse stock levels are driving a strong zinc price providing Ironbark with exceptional leverage to a rallying zinc price"
The price of zinc has remained exceptionally strong having risen by 60% last year and currently up a further 8% this calendar year.
Zinc, the fourth most mined metal by volume, is mostly used for galvanising steel, and has not run as hard this year as it did last year predominately based on mine shutdowns and depletion resulting in a metal deficit. The price of zinc had in fact fallen from its February high but has very recently enjoyed a rapid rebound. One explanation for this rapid recovery is the increase in London Metal Exchange (LME) cancelled warrants (zinc that is marked for delivery). LME zinc stocks are currently below 270,000 tonnes, see Figure 1 in the link below, which is down by 37 percent and the cancelled warrants are currently almost 70 percent, which suggests market tightness. The Chinese Shanghai stockpiles are following the same trend and are lower by approximately 50 percent. Interestingly lower Chinese treatment charges and better zinc payability terms being offered by the smelters also point to a market tightness. In addition to this, the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) observed that global zinc market deficit widened to 92,400 tonnes in April from a revised deficit of 72,700 tonnes in March. In the first four months of 2017, the zinc market was in a deficit of 112,000 tonnes versus a deficit of 20,000 tonnes in the same period last year.
It has been widely forecast that zinc prices may continue to trend upwards in the near future driven by increasing tightness in the concentrate market, following the recent closure of several major mines and healthy and growing zinc demand. This has been observed already with increasing Chinese refined metal imports. Overall tightness in the market and the major metal warehouses such as the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the Shanghai Exchange with regards to falling stocks are likely to be supportive and drive zinc prices even higher. In the context of Ironbark, this should prove to be a very supportive financing environment.
The Company holds a cash position at the end of the June 2017 quarter of approximately $2.4M with no debt. Strong cost saving measures remain in place.
To view tables and figures, please visit:
About Ironbark Zinc Limited
Ironbark Zinc Limited (ASX:IBG) (OTCMKTS:IRBGY) is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and is seeking to become a base metal mining house. Ironbark seeks to build shareholder value through exploration and development of its projects and also seeks to actively expand the project base controlled by Ironbark through acquisition. The management and board of Ironbark have extensive technical and corporate experience in the minerals sector. The wholly owned Citronen base metal project currently hosts in excess of 13.1 Billion pounds of zinc (Zn) and lead (Pb). Full details refer to ASX announcement 25 November 2014 - Citronen Project Resource Update - JORC 2012 compliant resource.
Ironbark Zinc Limited