Ironveld ramp-up slower than expected

28th March 2024 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Ironveld ramp-up slower than expected

Although high-purity iron, vanadium and titanium producer Ironveld marked the first sales of metal products, including high-purity iron and titanium slag, from its Rustenburg smelter to local buyers during the six months ended December 31, 2023, operational challenges and modifications delayed the expected ramp-up for the remainder of the year.

Located on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex in Limpopo, Ironveld's project continued with various activities during the period. Directors provided working capital support of up to £500 000 to ensure flexibility in funding. The company also carried on with the refurbishment of the Rustenburg smelter and initiated mining activities.

Efforts were made to improve efficiency and reduce costs, such as the removal of rented electrical generators and the planned installation of replacements with significantly lower costs. As part of cost-saving measures, the smelter was placed on care and maintenance until all new generators were installed, aimed at minimising expenses and conserving cash reserves.

Ironveld also made progress in discussions with potential customers for its iron powder products. The company's largest shareholder Tracarta agreed to a cornerstone cash subscription of £450 000 at a premium to the share price. Additionally, existing shareholders committed a further £550 000 to assist with ongoing working capital needs.

In a notable development post the reporting period, Ironveld entered into working capital loan facility agreements with Tracarta, allowing the company to draw down up to £375 000 to bolster its working capital position. This was done while discussions for direct institutional funding progressed, with the current facility being fully drawn.

Further, the company received a nonbinding term sheet from a local financial institution concerning asset-level financing for mining and smelting activities, including the transition to production. This potential transaction is subject to additional due diligence.

Management changes were also seen within Ironveld, with Dr John Wardle assuming the role of executive chairperson, undertaking a comprehensive review of strategy, overhead costs and priorities. Giles Clarke remains a nonexecutive director.

In terms of its financial status, as of March 27, the company held cash reserves of about £25 000.

“The period saw Ironveld undergo significant changes at board and management level. These changes were necessary to continue to develop the group operations towards unlocking the significant value in our assets.

“The receipt of a term sheet from a South Africa-based financial institution in order to support the financing of mining and smelting activities at the project is an important step in that direction. However the confirmation, quantum and timing of that potential funding is not yet certain,” Wardle said on March 28.