MANAGING DIRECTOR’S REPORT
iTech’s portfolio of exploration assets are well endowed with the critical minerals required to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. Critical minerals are minerals identified as essential by the world’s leading economies to support growth and development. They are used in rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles, renewable energy systems, electronics, mobile devices, and the defence industry.
Since listing on the ASX in 2021, iTech Minerals has made significant advances towards its vision of becoming a low-cost producer of critical minerals for the electrification of the worldwide economy. The company has established, and progressed, projects with significant potential for rare earth elements (REE) for use in high efficiency electrical motors, spherical graphite for lithium-ion battery anodes and kaolin for industrial applications. All the company’s projects are based in South Australia, a supportive and stable mining jurisdiction that has well established infrastructure and an abundance of renewable energy. iTech’s Australian based projects could provide a sought-after alternative supply chain to current monopolies held by China, particularly for rare earth elements and spherical graphite.
Since the beginning of 2022, iTech has completed an expansive exploration program, including 478 drill holes, that has discovered four new clay hosted REE prospects at Caralue Bluff, Ethiopia, Burtons and Bartels. Coincident potential for kaolin has also been identified at Caralue Bluff and Ethiopia. The company has also advanced the Campoona Spherical Graphite Project with positive bulk metallurgical results proving a high-quality graphite concentrate, suitable for conversion to spherical graphite, can be produced from Campoona ore. Test work is ongoing to establish an economical purification and spheronisation flow sheet and produce material suitable for qualification by potential offtake partners.
Rare Earth Elements and Kaolin- Halloysite Projects
As the world transitions to a renewable energy economy, rare earth elements and in particular, the magnetic rare earth elements (Neodymium, Praseodymium, Dysprosium and Terbium) will see a significant increase in demand. China has traditionally been the dominant supplier of these elements that are used to make high field strength magnets that drive the motors of electric vehicles and wind turbines. With more and more of China’s REE resources being consumed internally, the world’s leading industrial economies are looking for secure and stable supplies outside of China. iTech’s REE projects, based in South Australia, are rich in the magnetic REEs sought after to produce high field strength magnets.
Critical to the success of iTech’s clay hosted REE projects is the ability to inexpensively and cost effectively leach REEs from the host clays with minimal impurities to produce a clean REE concentrate. iTech is undertaking a comprehensive program of metallurgical test work across its REE- Kaolin projects to establish an economical process to produce a REE concentrate from the REE bearing clays. This program is being undertaken in conjunction with ANSTO and commercial laboratories. Pending positive results from the metallurgy, the company intends to recommence drilling early in the new year to establish JORC compliant resources, with a focus on the very large Caralue Bluff Prospect on the Eyre Peninsula.
A unique feature of iTech’s REE projects amongst current explorers and developers is the coexistence of high purity kaolin +/- halloysite alongside the REE mineralisation. The company is currently establishing a test work program to sequentially leach REEs from a high purity kaolin source material while improving the quality of kaolin to meet stringent industrial specifications. If successful, the ability to produce a high purity kaolin product alongside a REE concentrate would likely greatly improve project economics.
With metallurgical processes established and kaolin and REE resources defined, the company will quickly work through the various phase of feasibility studies to get the project into development.
Campoona Spherical Graphite Project
In addition to REEs, the world’s transition to an electrified economy will require an efficient source of both mobile and static electrical storage. Spherical graphite is a critical component of the negative terminal (or anode) of lithium-ion batteries. Not all graphite resources are able to be converted into spherical graphite. iTech Minerals has significant resources which have proven to be readily converted into spherical graphite. With a granted mining lease and JORC compliant resources, iTech is well placed to advance its projects to development. A pre- feasibility study is underway to determine the appropriate scale of spherical graphite production as is a program to grow iTech’s graphite resources to support future expansion.
iTech has partnered with Dorfner ANZAPLAN to develop a purified spherical graphite flowsheet. ANZAPLAN is a German company specialising in the development of battery materials. Extensive know- how in the specialty’s minerals processing, including fine grained minerals liberation, separation, flotation and mechanical and chemical modification derived from more than 100 years of day-to-day processing experience at Dorfner, has been successfully applied in the processing of various graphite raw materials. Furthermore, ANZAPLAN has detailed expertise in the advanced chemical and thermal purification upgrading graphite concentrates to up to 99.9+% purity levels as well as dewatering of fine-grained materials. iTech has also partnered with M.Plan, a sister company to ANZAPLAN, to undertake a pre-feasibility study on developing the Campoona project.
iTech is currently planning a resource expansion drilling program at the Lacroma Graphite Prospect on the Eyre Peninsula. The prospect has a significant graphite intersection of 60m @ 6.8% TGC, with preliminary metallurgical test work showing it can be processed through the established Campoona flow sheet. The prospect has over 12 km of strike extent, as identified from a detailed airborne electromagnetic survey, with good potential to add to the company’s graphite resources on the Eyre Peninsula.
With a granted mining lease, proven metallurgical flow sheet, indictive economics of production and plan to significantly increase resources, iTech will be well placed to advance the Campoona Spherical Graphite project towards rapid development.
Even though iTech Minerals has only been listed on the ASX for a little over 8 months, the company has made significant progress towards its vision of becoming a low-cost producer of critical minerals for the electrification of the worldwide economy.
The company has well advanced projects rich in critical minerals and with demand for these commodities set to increase dramatically as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, the company intends to capitalise on this growing demand.
The key advantages that set iTech apart.
• Proficient and skilled in-house technical staff with experience in critical minerals.
• Partnerships with world-leading critical minerals research and consulting organisations.
• Projects and staff located in South Australia, a highly supportive mining jurisdiction and a preferred supplier to the world’s leadingindustrial economies such as the USA and Europe.
• Projects well situated with respect to infrastructure such as:
o Renewable energy
o Sustainable water supplies
o Skilled work force
o Cost effective transport systems
• Potential for low-cost operations in commodities with significant growth potential
The company looks forward to ongoing exploration and development success and a bright future in establishing a well-respected critical minerals supplier to the world.