Ironveld Seeks To Bring Rustenburg Smelter Back To Life

Aim-listed iron, vanadium and titanium developer Ironveld plans to raise up to £5-million to acquire the remaining stake in the mothballed Ferrochrome Furnaces (FCF) business it does not already own, as well as to refurbish the FCF smelting complex, in Rustenburg, in South Africa’s North West province.
Ironveld will raise up to £4-million through the issue of 1.33-billion new ordinary shares at a price of 0.30p a placing share.
It has also granted a broker option to Turner Pope Investments to raise further funds of up to £1-million. The broker option will enable existing shareholders, who are qualifying investors, to invest in ordinary shares on the same terms as the above-mentioned placing.
The net proceeds of the overall fundraising will be used by Ironveld to acquire – through an agreement with business rescue practitioners Tayfin Forensic and Investigative Auditors – 100% of the share capital of FCF for R15-million (or about £750 000).
Ironveld will also pay over R100-million (about £5-million) to the sole creditor over ten years, calculated as a percentage of profits from the smelter, capped at 13.5% a year.
Acquiring 100% of FCF will provide Ironveld with up to 7.5 MW of smelting capacity within six to nine months, enabling processing of about 40 000 t/y of magnetite ore to produce high-purity iron, vanadium in slag and titanium in slag.
About 400 km from Ironveld’s Bushveld mining project, the FCF smelting complex comprises four 2.5 MW tilting electric arc furnaces and four convertors with ladles, cranes and associated buildings and equipment.
Ironveld, in conjunction with technical experts, has carried out a comprehensive due diligence on FCF over the past eight months, including a detailed costing for the refurbishment of the facility and quotations for the necessary equipment and upgrades.
Following the acquisition, Ironveld has a planned refurbishment programme of up to nine months at a cost of about R40-million (about £2-million), including contingencies, to bring three of the four electric arc furnaces into production on a phased basis.
Processing can start from the first furnace while the others are being brought back into production, thereby accelerating cash flow from sales, the first receipts of which Ironveld expects to secure within 12 months of the acquisition.
Once three furnaces are fully operational, the FCF complex will be capable of processing about 40 000 t/y of Ironveld’s magnetite ore, which, in turn, will provide 20 000 t/y of high-purity iron, 190 t of vanadium in slag and 3 800 t of titanium in slag.
Further upgrades to the plant at a cost of about R25-million (about £1.2-million) are planned in future when funding allows, and may be possible pursuant to the take-up of the broker option. These plans enable upgrading of the high-purity iron product to higher-value powder form.
Meanwhile, the FCF smelting complex is currently supplied with electricity from the national grid, which is reliant mainly on coal-fired power generation by power utility Eskom and, therefore, subject to regular bouts of load-shedding.
Ironveld has, however, signed a letter of intent with Enernet Global to build, own, operate and maintain a hybrid power plant using renewable energy.
This will provide Ironveld security of power supply on a capital expenditure-free basis.
The completion of the installation of the independent power supply by Enernet will be broadly in line with Ironveld’s overall refurbishment timetable.
As for supplying FCF with material, mining of Ironveld’s assets can start within six weeks of completion of the acquisition of FCF, with ore being stockpiled at the smelter complex while the furnace refurbishment takes place.
Ironveld intends to use mining contractors on site to reduce capital expenditure and will also use community-based transportation companies to transport ore from the mine to the smelter complex.
Further, Ironveld has also secured a formal five-year offtake contract with diversified commodities group Glencore for all vanadium slag production starting when commercial production at FCF takes place. The contract is linked to index-based prices.
Meanwhile, all necessary environmental and other operational permits are in place for the smelter complex to enable Ironveld to start production.