IronRidge Resources is an AIM-listed junior exploration company that thinks like a major. The Australia-based firm is focused on building a diversified portfolio of mineral assets with large scale tenure positions in African frontier jurisdictions, and to a lesser extent in Australia. “We adhere to this strategy to immunise ourselves against a one project, one company strategy, which is not conducive to multiple wealth accretive discoveries,” says IronRidge CEO Vincent Mascolo. IronRidge’s focus on lithium and gold gives investors exposure to rapidly growing lithium technology markets while hedging prominent global economic uncertainty via a large gold exploration portfolio.
“Our business model is designed for multiple discoveries of globally demanded commodities, that’s where we see the first wave of value accretion for shareholders; in the discovery process and the development to decision to mine.”
“Our strategy to concurrently diversify commodities and jurisdictions means that we always have something moving along; advancing projects, adding value and delivering positive news flow is paramount.”
Over the last three years, IronRidge has methodically built its tenure portfolios in three African jurisdictions – Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Chad. During this period, the company has also established exploration teams in each jurisdiction.
Teams are comprised of accomplished geoscientists and mining professionals with extensive in-country expertise, whilst the board has significant experience in project discovery, mine development and operations, debt financing and delivering shareholder value.
The board and management team also have significant vested interests in the form of a combined 9.3% shareholding to complement a strong institutional shareholder base. IronRidge is backed by DGR Global Ltd, Assore Ltd and Sumitomo Corporation – three global corporates who will support the company at each phase of the commodity cycle, from discovery and development through to production and sales.
“We have a strong shareholder base that continues to support the business model and we have new investors coming in to further support the company. They actually see that the business model is designed for exploration success.”
Shareholders have also been struck by the agility that IronRidge demonstrates when it comes to portfolio building. “The idea is to spread our wings far and wide, capturing as many highly prospective projects as we can. But if a project does not deliver, we will let it go,” says Mascolo.
“Today, we have nine province scale projects at various stages of development with significant discoveries in Ghana and Chad to date and we expect multiple discoveries in the pro-mining jurisdiction of Cote d’Ivoire in the next 12 months.”
IronRidge has made three discoveries in three jurisdictions over the last three years – a record which very few junior explorers can make claim to. The first discovery was a bauxite deposit back home in Australia, but deemed not to be a company maker, the project has effectively been placed on care and maintenance.
However, Mascolo calls IronRidge’s second recent discovery a ‘spectacular’ lithium project in Ghana, with world class drill intersections from surface, first quartile grades and in close proximity to operational infrastructure.
The Cape Coast Lithium Project contains proven high grade spodumene pegmatites and is significant given the fact that it is the first lithium discovery made in Ghana, opening up the possibility to establish a new lithium frontier in West Africa.
“The project has been very well received in Ghana, they are calling lithium the new white gold. We see huge potential for new industry there and that’s why the project is supported from the highest levels of office in Ghana.”
IronRidge’s third discovery was a large gold mineralised structure in Chad, where there has been little or no modern day exploration due to a historical focus on oil. Therefore, as the only active minerals explorer in Chad, the company holds first mover advantage with multiple advanced gold projects and multiple targets across a 40 km strike.
“The first mover advantage provides the company with the potential to make globally recognised discoveries in largely underexplored frontier regions. However, it does take more time to develop these assets in the first instance and time for the investment communities to appreciate the opportunity.
With investor markets still warming to Chad, IronRidge recently made the decision to acquire the Zaranou Gold Project in Cote d’Ivoire, further expanding the company’s portfolio in the jurisdiction, which is well understood by the investment community. In addition, the project has the potential to mimic and potentially dwarf what has been discovered in Chad, according to Mascolo.
Two hot commodities
Considering its most recent discoveries and acquisitions, it becomes clear that gold and lithium will be IronRidge’s focus commodities going forward, with both favoured by the company and the investment community for different reasons.
“Gold is a universal currency and it’s the staple form of traditional currency, which we particularly like. In addition, physical gold is a reliable and trustworthy asset and is therefore an insurance against economic uncertainty.”
The CEO also recognises the vast exponential growth story attached to lithium, which is derived from the global process of electrification taking place across several industries, most noticeably in the automobile sector with the rise of electric vehicles and stored energy.
IronRidge is currently investigating small, medium and large scale methods to produce a lithium concentrate from the spodumene dominant pegmatite ore at the Cape Coast project in Ghana, which would then be fed into the growing battery market worldwide.
“With the support of the government and the influx of major European car manufacturers coming into Ghana, we can see there is the potential to build an industry focus around a battery grade product, lithium hydroxide being preferred for the fast-growing electric vehicle industry.”
However, this remains a long-term horizon for IronRidge and right now the company is focused on testing several targets at the project. Around 14,000 metres of drilling has already taken place across the project, with recent results delivering multiple high grade lithium pegmatite intersections at the flagship Ewoyaa project and new Abonko discovery.
The results to date and ongoing exploration has identified additional pegmatite mineralisation around the peripheries of both projects and surrounding projects areas, including the historical Egyasimanku Hill deposit. The company plans to continue drilling until the end of the year, at which point it will produce a maiden resource.
IronRidge is also fortunate enough to be operating within close proximity to world class infrastructure. The project is located 1 km from a major highway, 100 km from the deep sea port of Takoradi and adjacent to grid power.
“When you are this close to operational infrastructure, it implies low capital intensity and low operational costs. In summary, the lithium project in Ghana has the potential to deliver first quartile lithium grades, first quartile capex and first quartile operating costs.”
While the Ghana lithium project is IronRidge’s most advanced, the company is also advancing its 900 km² gold portfolio in Chad; a potential analogue of the intrusion related gold systems in the prolific Yukon-Alaska Tintina Gold Belt.
The main focus across the portfolio in Chad has fallen on the Dorothe Gold discovery, which has extensive artisanal workings with visible gold nuggets at surface, over a 3 km x 1 km footprint.
So far, IronRidge has completed 14,564 metres of trenching at Dorothe, plus regional air magnetics and soil sampling. “When we drill some holes and get proof of concept in the anomalous footprint, we believe it could rival some of the largest open pit gold mines in the world today,” says a confident Mascolo.
In Cote d’Ivoire, IronRidge has plenty of exploration activities to get busy with in the coming months, including at the Zaranou project after the company’s venture partner had the exploration licence granted covering 397 km².
“Cote d’Ivoire is our early stage, greenfields exploration jurisdiction, which we believe will provide the pipeline of future discoveries over the next 12 months.”
To conclude, IronRidge’s African diversification strategy has served it well thus far, as the company closes in on significant lithium and gold discoveries in Ghana, Chad and Cote d’Ivoire. IronRidge’s business model is designed to return shareholder value through the discovery and development of multiple projects across a diverse commodity and jurisdictional portfolio.