If it gets into production, the Brisbane company with a market value of $160 million will be competing against some of the world’s biggest mining companies, but it already has strong interest from steel mills.
Hawsons, which evolved from Carpentaria Resources which itself was part of the old MIM, has spent about 13 years trying to get the project up since it was discovered in 2009.
Until late 2020 it was fighting off an insurgency from Chinese investors and there were four attempts to roll the board.
“It was very divisive and it obviously held up a cohesive board and management,’’ executive chairman Bryan Granzien said.
“They were trying to take control of the company because they probably saw it as a really good asset and wanted it for themselves.
“Our current schedule is to complete the bankable feasibility study by the end of this year, raise the capital and build the mine. We are saying that in the second half of 2024 we would like to have it in production.
“It is pretty quick, it’s a challenging schedule but it has been held up for a while and we want to make sure we give it the right focus and effort to take it into production as soon as possible.
“Clearly the last 12 months have been a period of significant progress for the company. The board meeting where shareholders supported putting me in as chair and voting down the previous chair, who was associated with those investors, was the start of that process.
“We made significant progress last year in replacing those shareholders with Australian institutions.’’
Granzien said a Wood Mackenzie report rated the project as one of the world’s best undeveloped projects.
“The pre-feasibility study came up with an attractive net present value and a very viable project,’’ Granzien said.
“It’s a magnetite, which is historically high cost compared with hematite or direct shipping ore. The four biggest producers are all DSO, but magnetite today is about 50 per cent of iron ore production and that is increasing.
“This product is 70 per cent iron. No other project in the world does that.’’
Granzien said the potential shift to green steel is also a factor in support of the project because it has high grade and the iron is contained in soft siltstone which means a significantly lower energy demand involved in the crushing
“The green steel evolution is one of the key factors to reducing carbon emissions in the steel industry.
“It’s something that will grow in importance. The steel industry today is 7 to 8 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. It has to change.’’
The project was upgraded in October 2021 when it also confirmed that the outer boundary of the total resource hadn’t yet been fully identified. Its indicated resource is 132 million tonnes and its Inferred Resources is 268 million tonnes.
Last year the company also raised $200 million through a put option agreement with US investment group LDA Capital Ltd.
Hawsons rapid share price climb was stopped this morning when its shares dropped 4 per cent on the opening bell.