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IGO pays tribute to Bradford, revises Cosmos plans

31st October 2022

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Battery metals miner IGO paid tribute to late MD and CEO Peter Bradford in the company’s quarterly report on Monday.

The company earlier this month announced the sudden passing of Bradford.

“The IGO family continues to mourn the recent loss of our Managing Director and CEO, Peter Bradford, who was a passionate, engaged leader who put our people first and helped to create IGO’s unique culture. Bradford was recognised across the entire mining industry as an inspirational leader, an innovative and strategic thinker and a compassionate mentor,” said acting CEO Matt Dusci.

“We at IGO are determined to deliver on Bradford’s aspiration – to make a difference and make the planet better for future generations.

“I would like to acknowledge the enormous support we have received from the broader community over the past two weeks. The outpouring of support we have received clearly highlights the impact that Bradford had across the entire industry, both locally and globally.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at IGO for the support they have given the leadership team following Bradford’s passing. The commitment and resilience they have shown during this difficult time is a testament to the culture and the Company of which Bradford would have been immensely proud.”

Dusci said that despite the loss, IGO delivered another strong result this quarter.

“Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of A$398-million represents a quarterly record for IGO, thanks to strong operational performance from both our lithium and nickel businesses.

“Stronger production and higher spodumene prices drove outstanding earnings within the Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia (TLEA) joint venture (JV) and led to IGO receiving its second quarterly dividend of A$106-million.

“Within our nickel business, Nova and Forrestania performed to plan, and we are also pleased to announce our Cosmos revised project plan, which lays the roadmap for the successful delivery of this project over the coming year.”

Total nickel-in-concentrate production for the third quarter ended September was up 50%, to 9 761 t, up from the 6 509 t in the previous quarter, while total copper-in-concentrate production remained stable at 2 805 t.

The company said on Monday that since the completion of the Western Areas acquisition in June, IGO had been implementing changes to ensure the successful integration of the assets, systems and people into the IGO business.

The company is also progressing a nickel downstream study, in conjunction with Wyloo Metals, and is progressing several studies to expand its nickel resource and reserve base.

In addition, further work has progressed on the respective feasibility studies at Silver Knight and Mt Goode. Silver Knight is being assessed as a potential supplementary ore source for Nova, with metallurgical studies and environmental assessments currently underway. At Mt Goode, a prefeasibility study is being progressed to assess the potential for Mt Goode to become a viable feed source to a nickel downstream project.

Nova production was higher for nickel metal owing to improved milled grades, while copper metal was slightly lower owing to reduced mill throughput. Nickel and copper production were both in line with the prior quarter. Cobalt production was higher by 3% owing to higher grade and recoveries.

Meanwhile, spodumene production for the third quarter was up 7% on the previous quarter from 338 000 t to 361 000 t, while lithium hydroxide production was up 122% from 88 t to 195 t.

The increase in spodumene production resulted from record Greenbushes production for the quarter, with processing operations setting quarterly records.

Quarterly spodumene sales revenue of A$1.84-billion represented a 112% increase on the previous quarter, a result of strong spodumene sales volumes of 338 000 t coupled with a reset in contract pricing for Greenbushes chemical grade spodumene from $1 770/t free-on-board (FOB) for the second half of the 2022 financial year to $4 187/t FOB for the September 2022 quarter.

The total average realised price for the quarter was $3 729/t owing to a delayed shipment of chemical grade spodumene from June 2022 that was shipped in July at the previous benchmark price of $1 770/t, as foreshadowed in the prior quarter.

Following the first production of battery grade lithium hydroxide in the previous quarter from Train 1, works continued at the Kwinana refinery during the September quarter to continue to progress the plant toward commercial production while also progressing early works on Train 2.

Trial production for the quarter resulted in 195 t of finished goods lithium hydroxide being produced by Train 1. This included 100 t of battery grade and 95 t of premium grade lithium hydroxide, respectively, and excludes 56 t of previously reported lithium hydroxide production retreated in the plant.

COSMOS
Meanwhile, IGO on Monday also revealed the revised development plan for the Cosmos operation, acquired as part of the Western Areas takeover earlier this year.

The core elements of the revised plan would focus on expanding the processing plant construction scope to increase nameplate capacity from 0.75-million tonnes a year to 1.1-million tonnes a year, modifying and completing shaft and shaft infrastructure, additional underground mine development to deliver a higher sustained ore mining production rate in the initial stages of the mine life, and strengthening the project and site infrastructure to ensure reliable operation.

The company told shareholders that the process plant would be completed in the first quarter of the 2024 financial year, with first concentrate to be produced from ore stockpiles. The shaft and associated infrastructure are expected to be completed around the end of the 2023 calendar year, after which the hoisting of ore from the Odysseus shaft will commence.

Commercial production at Cosmos will be achieved when the process plant is capable of operating within acceptable limits of its intended operating capacity during the first quarter of the 2024 financial year.

In the meantime, the company has upwardly revised capital costs for the project by between A$370-million and A$400-million above the previous estimate of A$425-million.

Total project costs at the end of June 2022 were A$302-million, and IGO estimates that the remaining cost to complete the project after this date will be between A$493-million and A$523-million. This includes all project development activities up until commercial production, plus the forecast costs to complete the shaft and shaft infrastructure, which are expected to be completed around the end of calendar 2023.

Accordingly, IGO estimates the total cost of the project, including the period prior to IGO ownership, to be between A$795-million and A$825-million.

The miner expected to spend between A$400-million and A$425-million on the project in the 2023 financial year.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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