Panoramic Resources Says No Thanks to Independence Group Take Over

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Independence Group (ASX: IGO) rattled the boards of the ASX in November when it declared its intention to make an off-market takeover offer to acquire all of the ordinary shares of Panoramic Resources (ASX: PAN) it does not already own.

At the date of the announcement, Independence Group’s interest in Panoramic consisted approximately 24.9 million shares, representing approximately 3.8 per cent of the target company’s total issued capital.

IGO explained it opted to directly engage Panoramic shareholders following a number of unsuccessful attempts to engage with the Panoramic Board on a change of control transaction.

The company cited Panoramic’s recent operational performance and the lack of engagement from Panoramic’s Board to date as the impetus behind the offer.

The conditions to the offer include a number of conditions that IGO believes to be necessary to confirm the current status of operating performance at Savannah.

The offer is in the form of one IGO Share for every 13 Panoramic shares held, giving Panoramic a share price of 47.6 cents per Panoramic share, which values the company at around $312 million.

IGO indicated its preference is to conduct an expedited and thorough due diligence process, and to proceed with a recommendation from the Panoramic Board rather than seek the confirmations required under the offer conditions, however IGO said it is prepared to see the offer to completion should the offer conditions be satisfied.

“The Offer represents a rare instance of genuine and obvious mutual benefit for both Panoramic and IGO shareholders,” Independence Group managing director and CEO Peter Bradford said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Panoramic shareholders will be able to crystallise future value from Savannah at a very attractive price and retain exposure to its upside potential, while also gaining exposure to Nova and Tropicana and IGO’s extensive portfolio of belt-scale exploration projects prospective for nickel and copper.

“The company remains leveraged to the nickel market and we believe IGO has the financial, operational and technical capability to fully unlock value from Savannah and Panoramic’s exploration portfolio.

“Given our unique positioning as Australia’s largest independent producer of nickel, to unlock value at Savannah, we have decided to provide the offer for the consideration of all Panoramic shareholders.”

In response, Panoramic did nothing to surprise anybody by recommending its shareholders take no action in relation to the IGO takeover offer.

“The Board will evaluate the offer and Independence Group’s Bidder’s Statement and provide shareholders with a recommendation in due course,” Panoramic Resources said.

“Until then, shareholders should take no action.”

And no action they did take.

The Directors of Panoramic bounced back this week to inform their shareholders that they didn’t think the offer from IGO was in their best interests.

They recommended that having carefully considered the terms and conditions of the IGO Takeover Offer and taking into account the results of the company’s recently announced operational review at Savannah and other information available to them at the current time, shareholders should REJECT the IGO Takeover Offer.

They must have been serious because the recommendation was in capital letters.

The key reasons for the Panoramic Board’s unanimous recommendation were:

The IGO Takeover Offer is opportunistically timed, which could deprive Panoramic shareholders of future potential value;

Panoramic shareholders’ exposure to the company’s assets and potential upside would be diluted through accepting the IGO Takeover Offer;

Panoramic shareholders’ nickel exposure would be diluted through accepting the IGO Takeover Offer;

The IGO Takeover Offer consideration was for IGO shares, which PAN considered, based on several objective measures, to appear to be trading at an elevated valuation, presenting downside risk to the implied IGO Takeover Offer value;

Accepting the IGO Takeover Offer meant shareholders risk missing out if a superior offer from a third party if it emerges;

Panoramic’s largest shareholder, Zeta Resources, which holds 35.17 per cent of Panoramic indicated it does not intend to accept the IGO Takeover Offer; and

The IGO Takeover Offer is highly conditional and there is no certainty it will proceed.

In response, Independence Group said it would not be taking up the offer to use its 38 per cent holding to participate in Panoramic’s announced non-renounceable entitlement offer to raise approximately $31 million stating the Entitlement Offer breaches a condition of IGO’s takeover offer.

We can only assume this is not the end of this discussion.



Middle Island Resources’ Bid for Alto Metals Hits the Wall

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: To quote The Eagles, “It seems like a dream now, it was so long ago”, but it was only in March this year the Middle Island Resources (ASX: MDI) provided Alto Metals (ASX: AME) shareholders something to ponder by announcing its intention of an all scrip off‐market take‐over offer for all the issued ordinary shares of Alto Metals.

Back then, Middle Island Resources said it had formed the view that the combination of the assets of the two companies would create, among other material benefits to the shareholders, a company with near-term cash flow potential and considerable production and exploration upside.

The company said the all scrip off-market takeover offer would give Alto shareholders five Middle Island ordinary shares for each Alto ordinary share, which the hunter said valued its prey at approximately $9.4 million representing a 61 per cent premium over Alto’s last closing price at the time.

According to Middle Island this upside would include access to its processing plant, even though it is currently on care and maintenance, saying this would provide Alto shareholders with an immediate, proximal and cost-effective processing solution for their company’s gold resources that is not otherwise available.

Middle Island is keen to restart its Sandstone gold processing plant and clearly the Alto deposits would provide initial mill feed and critical mass to support its early recommissioning in conjunction with the former’s Two Mile Hill deposits.

Middle Island declared it has received indicative broker support with respect to the takeover for an equity capital raising of approximately $5 million in additional funds to advance the feasibility and recommissioning of the Sandstone plant. Claiming the combination of Middle Island and Alto will consolidate the entire Sandstone greenstone belt and dataset under a single entity.

“Middle Island’s offer is compelling for Alto shareholders, who will receive a significant premium based on the last closing price for their shares and will benefit in the future growth potential of the proposed Combined Group,” Middle Island Resources managing director Rick Yeates said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Middle Island will integrate Alto’s assets with Middle Island’s Sandstone gold project, and immediately embark on an updated feasibility study, incorporating Alto’s Mineral Resources, to determine the economics of recommissioning the Sandstone gold processing plant.

“The collective Middle Island‐Alto gold assets offer a substantial growth opportunity for current and future shareholders of the Combined Group, via low capital intensity and a near-term production profile.

“The further potential is to significantly extend this production profile via Middle Island’s Two Mile Hill underground deposits, consolidate further proximal deposits within a 100 kilometre radius, and amalgamate an entire greenstone belt offering significant resource and exploration upside.

“In the view of the Middle Island directors, the premium offered, the funding support, Middle Island’s technical and management expertise, and participation in the combined Middle Island‐Alto upside, makes the bid a compelling proposal.”

The Resources Roadhouse spoke to Rick Yeats when both attended the RIU Resources Roadshow in Melbourne.

The deal, howver, failed to gain traction and Middle Island this week announced its off-market takeover bid for fully paid ordinary shares Alto Metals has lapsed.

The reason being that Middle Island’s 50 per cent minimum acceptance condition, to which the Offer was subject, had not been met as of close of the Offer period at 5.00pm (Perth time), Friday, 29 November 2019.

Middle Island thanked those Alto shareholders who had taken up the offer, acknowledging that as the offer had lapsed, they would have their Alto shares returned.

Undeterred, Middle Island said it strongly believes that combining Middle Island and Alto’s gold assets offers a substantial growth opportunity for current and future shareholders of a combined entity.

The company declared the combined entity would have low start-up costs and near-term gold production, utilising Middle Island’s existing Sandstone gold processing plant and infrastructure, along with the consolidation of healthy gold resource upside and exploration potential within the combined entity’s highly complementary tenure.

Middle Island made note that over the past two years, it has unsuccessfully endeavoured to engage the Alto Board on what it considers is a clear, compelling and commercially logical strategy that is widely endorsed by all stakeholders.

Middle Island indicated it intends to continue to pursue meaningful dialogue with the Alto Board of Directors as it seeks to add value for both Alto and MDI shareholders.



Renascor Resources to Raise $1.4 Million to Advance Siviour Development

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Renascor Resources (ASX: RNU) has received firm commitments to raise $1.4 million to fund the advancement of the company’s Siviour graphite project near the coast of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

Renascor Resources said the placement will be completed by the issue up of just over 125.7 million shares at 1.1 cents per share.

“Following the successful completion of the Siviour Definitive Feasibility Study, Renascor is poised to advance key workstreams for the Siviour graphite project,” Renascor Resources managing director David Christensen said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Completing the combination of bulk samples for marketing purposes, FEED work, engaging with potential debt financiers, and executing binding offtake agreements will further de-risk the project and draw Siviour closer to commencement of construction during 2020.”

The company also announced a Share Purchase Plan (SPP) for all eligible shareholders to raise up to $0.5 million at the same issue price as the placement.





Ausgold Raising up to $3.6 Million for Katanning Gold Project

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Ausgold Limited (ASX: AUC) informed the market it has received binding commitments from institutional and sophisticated investors for a share placement to raise $2.376 million.

Ausgold indicated it will also be conducting a Share Purchase Plan (SPP) to existing eligible shareholders.

Under the Placement, the company will issue a total of 198 million shares at an issue price of 1.2 cents per share.

Proceeds from the Capital Raising are earmarked for accelerated exploration at the company’s Katanning gold project (KGP), financing an exploration drilling campaign designed to target further high-grade mineralisation within the Central Zone at KGP, the completion of metallurgical test work and to provide additional working capital.

The company indicated the planned drilling program will target Resource extensions including the following recent intercepts of:

26 metres at 6.6 grams per tonne gold from 117m, including 4m at 37.2g/t gold;
16m at 6.2g/t from 114m, including 4m at 22.4g/t gold;
15m at 3.7g/t from 117m, including 5m at 10.4g/t gold; and
17.6m at 2.2g/t gold from 55m.

“An extensive drill campaign will commence immediately targeting high-grade gold mineralisation within the Central Zone of Katanning gold project,” Ausgold managing director Matthew Greentree said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“This new drilling will build on the findings of the recent Scoping Study and will include extensions to the high-grade gold mineralisation identified in areas where this mineralisation remains open both along strike and down-dip.

“It is anticipated that drilling these extensions will further expand the current 1.2- million-ounce gold Resource.

“The planned exploration will also extend to Ausgold’s regional targets including the Burong and Nanicup Bridge prospects, leveraging on the recently awarded $150,000 of co-funding provided under the WA Government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme.

“Drilling these prospects, along with other low-cost high-impact exploration programs, will be conducted on Ausgold’s regional land package of over 4,000 square kilometres of underexplored Archean greenstone belt, further developing the company’s geological understanding of the region.

“The company is now well positioned to accelerate its exploration programs at the Katanning gold project and looks forward to updating the market as results become available.”





Red 5 Signs Option Agreement to Purchase Cables and Mission Gold Deposits

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Red 5 Limited (ASX: RED), via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Darlot Mining Company (DMC), has entered into an Option and Sub-lease Agreement for the right to acquire a sub-lease over the 13 blocks of Exploration Licence E37/1220 in Western Australia.

The acquisition area totals 38.7 square kilometres and includes the Cables and Mission gold deposits, which were last reported by Leopard Resources on 5 February 2014 to contain total combined JORC 2004 Inferred Resources of 185,000 ounces.

Red 5 will pay a total acquisition cost of $2 million, with a further $500,000 payable on delineation and reporting of a 500,000 ounce JORC 2012 Resource.

The deposits are located 10 kilometres from Red 5’s Darlot gold mining and processing operations.

According to Red 5 managing director Mark Williams the proposed acquisition represents another strategic low-risk opportunity to grow the company’s Resource base in the area surrounding the Darlot gold processing plant.

“We are delighted to have the option to acquire the southern portion of E37/1220,” Williams said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“It is last reported to contain JORC 2004 Inferred Resources totalling 185,000 ounces and is located adjacent to our existing Darlot operations.

“Significantly, the rock units hosting the Cables and Mission deposits are similar to those that host the Centenary orebody, which is currently being mined from underground at Darlot.

“This agreement over the Cables and Missions deposits follows the option agreement we recently secured over the Great Western deposit, with these proposed acquisitions having the potential to provide additional sources of ore feed for the Darlot processing plant.”

The agreement entitles Red 5 to conduct due diligence and drilling activities within the Sub-lease Area to determine the potential of the Cables and Mission deposits to be upgraded to Indicated ± Measured Resource status, and to be mined and trucked to the company’s Darlot processing plant.

The company indicated that should the due diligence be completed to its satisfaction and the option exercised, Red 5 intends to conduct drilling programs and other activities to produce a JORC 2012 compliant Resource as quickly as possible.






NTM Gold Hits High-Grade Gold at Hub Prospect

THE DRILL SERGEANT: NTM Gold (ASX: NTM) has recently completed a round of RC drilling at the Hub prospect at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Redcliffe gold project located near Leonora in Western Australia.

NTM Gold is carrying out the drilling to test northern and southern extensions as well as shallow grade continuity.

The first holes of the program tested shallow mineralisation and returned excellent grades close to surface.

These holes also targeted the up-dip mineralisation to test the grade continuity close to surface.

Better results from the initial five-metre composite samples include:

15 metres at 8.5 grams per tonne gold from 25m;
25m at 5.4g/t gold from 20m, including 5m at 20.3g/t gold;
15m at 4.9g/t gold from 20m, including 10m at 6.6g/t gold; and
10m at 4.1g/t gold from 25m, including 5m at 6.8g/t gold.

Two holes testing deeper grade continuity returned positive results from initial five-metre composites, including:

10m at 4.5g/t gold from 135m; and
10m at 2.6g/t gold from 105m.

The results are from the first eight of a planned 37 RC hole program the company expects to continue until Christmas.

NYM indicated that on completion of the shallower holes, RC drilling will next focus on a number of diamond pre-collars, before moving to extensional drilling along strike.

Diamond drilling has also commenced and is testing for deeper extensions to the gold mineralisation and will also provide valuable geological information.

“These shallow RC results highlight the substantial value of Hub with exceptional grades close to surface,” NTM Gold managing director Andrew Muir said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Hub has continued to grow with each program and we are optimistic this continues with the current program.

“RC and diamond drilling remains ongoing with more results due in the following weeks after completion of the pre-collars.”




Blackstone Minerals signs MoU with Korea’s Largest EV Battery Cathode Producer

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Korea’s largest electric vehicle (EV) battery cathode manufacturer.

Blackstone has inked a non-binding MoU with Ecopro BM Co Limited that outlines an alliance structure whereby Ecopro BM and Blackstone will work in partnership to develop a downstream processing facility in association with the company’s Ta Khoa nickel project in northern Vietnam.

The MoU is a boon for both entities in that Blackstone wishes to engage a development partner to provide funding to commercialise the Ta Khoa nickel project, while Ecopro BM has indicated its willingness to enter into an alliance with Blackstone with a view to formalising a Joint Venture on the downstream processing infrastructure project in association with the project.

The intention of the MOU is for the parties to enter into an alliance to form a Joint Venture with the intention to develop a suitable nickel, cobalt or other battery mineral product for lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

“We are pleased to announce an MoU with Korea’s largest cathode manufacturer,” Blackstone Minerals managing director Scott Williamson saidn in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Our Ta Khoa nickel project has significant potential to deliver the critical raw materials required for Ecopro’s cathode manufacturing process and meet the ever-increasing demand for high-nickel content cathodes driven by the imminent electric vehicle (EV) revolution.

“We look forward to finalising a formal agreement with Ecopro over the coming months.

“In the meantime, we continue the exploration and development of our flagship Ta Khoa nickel project in northern Vietnam.”

Blackstone is keen to deliver a maiden resource on the disseminated sulphide (DSS) at Ban Phuc over the coming months as it investigates the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulphide veins (MSV) and DSS deposits.

The company has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa, the purpose of which is to provide detail for potential JV partners to formalise a binding agreement.

Blackstone has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS orebody with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium ion battery industry.

In addition, Blackstone intends to investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia’s growing lithium ion battery industry.

The Ta Khoa nickel project in Vietnam includes an existing modern nickel mine which has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices.

Existing infrastructure includes an internationally designed 450,000 tonnes per annum processing plant.






Lithium Australia and Neometals Leading the Australian LIB Recycling Pack

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: There is little doubt that the world is currently in the thrall of the lithium-ion battery (LIB).

They help us survive the modern struggles that we encounter on a daily basis, such as maintaining a charge on our mobile phones or computer-related devices, thus keeping us contacted with the rest of the world and our family members in the next room.

They are, presently, our greatest source of portable power.

They are also, ironically, creating an environmental nightmare.

Analysts who like to make themselves important have made some big predictions in recent years, especially in regard to the market penetration of LIBs, particularly in the electric vehicle (EV) sector.

Through all the noise in this space, it has generally filtered through that it is likely that the availability of spent batteries will rise to more than seven million tonnes annually over the next 20 years.

Diligently, we sort our household rubbish each week, or fortnight, depending on the generosity of your local council, into different levels of importance, filling any number of bins to assuage our collective waste related guilt.

On a global basis, however, only around nine per cent of spent LIBs are recycled to keep them out of landfill and recover valuable metals.

In Australia, which is supposedly one of the recycling powerhouses, the recycling rate is embarrassing, some would say woeful, coming in at less than three per cent.

What this all means is that the world is missing out on a great opportunity – that being the large quantity of batteries discarded globally actually represents a potentially significant resource.

Australia is a long way behind the countries that are presently leading the battery recycling wars.

Belgium, South Korea, China and Canada recycle the most batteries, with the metals they contain generally recovered by smelting – or as it is referred to by those in the know – pyrometallurgical processing.

Pyrometallurgical processing of spent LIBs can efficiently recover nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese from LIBs, but not the lithium or graphite.

Research and development into the science by Western Australia-based battery recycling company, Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) realised that a potential alternative to the downsides associated with pyrometallurgical processing is to take a hydrometallurgical approach.

Lithium Australia is developing a hydrometallurgical technique that recovers all metals, including lithium, from spent LIBs.

Lithium Australia has openly declared that its corporate intentions include shoring up an ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry, thus enhancing energy security in the process.

The company is eager to create a circular battery economy and has highlighted the recycling of old lithium-ion batteries to new is intrinsic to this plan.

In October 2019, Lithium Australia announced it had increased its equity in Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd (EA) to 23.9 per cent.

Envirostream is the only company in Australia with the integrated capacity to collect, sort, shred and separate all the components of spent LIBs.

Another string to Lithium Australia’s LIB bow is it 100 per cent-owned subsidiary company, VSPC Ltd that has developed advanced processes for manufacturing lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) cathode powders at its R&D and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland.

The cathode powders produced by VSPC possess simple nanotechnology that produces superior battery cathodes, provides control of composition and particle size in a precise manner and highly reliable quality control with low production costs.

Recent evaluation of VSPC’s Gen 4 LFP cathode material was undertaken at Chinese battery producer DLG Battery Co., Ltd. That saw the materials assessed in a commercial 18650 battery-cell format under a range of electrochemical and temperature conditions and subjected to long-term cycle testing.

The testing concluded that VSPC’s LFP material met DLG’s stringent specifications for use in LIB cells for both power and energy applications.

VSPC also received positive feedback from Japanese battery-cell producers, which are evaluating its LFP products at laboratory scale with the electrochemical performance of VSPC’s LFP material meeting the rigorous Japanese requirements.

“This year has seen a significant shift in the Chinese battery markets, with greater demand for LFP for use in short-range electric vehicle and energy-storage applications,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.

“The test results from battery producers in China and Japan show clearly that the performance of VSPC cathode powders is comparable to other materials currently supplied for the production of LFP LIBs.

“We look forward to furthering our partnerships within the battery industry and, ultimately, supplying products that meet not only VSPC’s stringent quality specifications but those of its international customers.”

Lithium Australia anticipates the market for LFP to grow strongly in the next 10 years, due to its particular suitability for energy storage and certain types of transportation, which includes being a replacement for lead-acid batteries in various automotive applications and as back-up for power supplies.

Another Western Australian company that was an early battery recycling proponent is Neometals (ASX: NMT).

Neometals has been also carrying out LIB Pilot test-work, however its focus is the recovery of very high-purity (+99.9%) nickel-sulphate solution from the hydrometallurgical processing stage of its patent pending recycling technology.

The latest tests produced nickel recovery from shredded battery feed into nickel product that exceeded 98 per cent.

The Pilot test-work being is being undertaken on behalf of Neometals by SGS Canada Inc.

The work represents part of the pre-development activities for a proposed commercial LIB recycling venture targeting greater than 90 per cent recovery of LIB materials from electric vehicle and consumer electronics production scrap and end-of-life cells.

Neometals shredded and processed 2.3 tonnes of spent commercial LIBs during the initial Feed Preparation Stage of the Pilot test-work.

A total of 980 kilograms of mixed cathode and anode materials, known as Black Powder, fed the subsequent hydrometallurgical processing stage, from which chemical products are recovered and refined into high-purity cathode intermediate materials.

The Hydrometallurgical Processing stage leaches the Black Powder and sequentially recovers cathode materials, which are refined to generate high-purity chemical products for potential sale directly into the battery supply chain.

As the Pilot test-work program draws towards completion, it does so having recovered a suite of materials, including copper, manganese, cobalt and nickel-sulphates.

“The Pilot test-work continues to deliver very encouraging results that support the Neometals desire to sell high-purity cathode materials back into the battery supply chain,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said.

“With provenance, ethical supply and material scarcity concerns, a sustainable, secure supply chain will be key for leaders in energy storage.

“Eco-friendly recycling will play that vital role and our development timing aligns well with global forecast cell capacity against the projected supply deficit in traditional mine-sourced battery minerals.”

Neometals said the purity and the recovery rates of the nickel product materially had exceeded its expectations, enabling it to tick off another milestone in the confirmation of the technical feasibility of the company’s proprietary process.

The company explained that the recovery of cobalt and nickel are key drivers of the project economics adding that the Pilot purity/recovery data strongly supports the validity of previous economic evaluations.

Neometals expects to hit its remains on schedule for completing the bulk of the Pilot stage by December 2019.

It is also expected that the recovery of lithium will be due to commence prior to year-end and be concluded in January 2020 along with outcomes from final purification and crystallisation to produce ultra-high purity, cathode materials.

Successful completion of the Pilot and confirmation of the mass-energy balances are the key technical considerations for SMS Group’s due diligence for a 50:50 joint venture decision.






Matador Mining Progresses Cape Ray Environmental Assessment

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Matador Mining (ASX: MZZ) updated the market on progress of the Environmental Assessment (EA) process for the company’s Cape Ray gold project in Newfoundland, Canada.

Matador Mining said it has made good significant progress in the latter half of this year regarding Environmental Assessments, specifically in the important areas of First Nation and Stakeholder Consultation.

The company has had meetings with the two Mi’kmaq First Nation Communities, from which it said positive feedback was received from the Chiefs and Band Councils.

Public meetings were also held in Port aux Basques and Isle aux Morts to present the project to the local communities that were both very well attended with local support for the project on show.

The company also provided insight to Environmental Baseline studies it has underway to satisfy Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines.

These are nearing completion and are expected to be completed early in 2020.

Meetings with officials at the provincial and federal environmental assessment agencies provided positive feedback on the process.

Matador has a Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submission date targeted for Q3 2020 with approvals targeted for early 2021.

Other meetings have also been held with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (NLH) that have identified potential grid connection points and internal studies have been initiated by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to determine optimal grid connection points for project power.

Matador indicated this could have potential to reduce operating costs, which will be highlighted in the company’s development study that remains on track to be released during Q1 2020.

“The pace at which we have been able to move ahead with our Environmental Assessment for the Cape Ray gold project has been very encouraging and initial discussions with elected officials in Newfoundland have garnered significant project support with the permitting process expected to be completed in a relatively short time frame,” Matador Mining technical director Keith Bowes said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“In parallel with our assessment work we are also pursuing options for grid power connections for a future operation.

“Newfoundland has an abundance of hydroelectric power (through the new Maritime link) which will benefit the project as grid connections are in close proximity to the site and power authorities have already expressed a willingness to support the project.

“Given the current status of the Environmental Assessment, the progress made with the exploration program and our initial assessment work, Matador is on track to potentially become the next major gold producing mine in Newfoundland.”






Altech Chemicals Explains High Purity Alumina Use in Semi-Conductor Applications

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Sometimes a company announcement comes along that needs to be brought to the attention of punters, simply due to the information it presents.

Altech Chemicals Limited (ASX: ATC) released such an announcement today; one that provides information regarding the use of high purity alumina (HPA) in the manufacture of epoxy moulding compounds (EMCs) that are used in the semi-conductor industry to improve heat dissipation.

Altech recently commenced an investigation of the EMC for semi-conductor market for the purpose of targeting some of its future HPA product into this market segment.

The information below is straight from the announcement. There has been no editing by The Resources Roadhouse as we feel it tells the story in a much more knowledgeable fashion than we could.

Introduction of alumina into EMCs used in semi-conductors

Typically industrial-strength epoxy compounds are used for the package assembly of semi-conductors, as the epoxy compounds provide the required physical protection, mechanical strength, as well as a number of desired performance properties – primarily in relation to heat and moisture, both of which can destroy a semi-conductor, warp an electronic device (that the semi-conductor is used in), or even cause a device to catch fire.

Electronic devices continue to become more compact – Moore’s Law – the exponential growth in the number of transistors that can be packed into a single semi-conductor.

However, thermal or heat dissipation is a real problem as semi-conductors continue to reduce in size and contain more transistors.

It is suggested that heat could represent the ultimate barrier to the ever smaller and more powerful semi-conductors that end-users have become accustomed to.

The epoxy resins that have traditionally been used for semi-conductor package assembly are reaching their limits in terms of effective heat dissipation.

However, adding thermally conductive materials into the resins has been demonstrated to improve heat dissipation and thereby improve the protection of semi-conductors against heat related failure.

The thermally conductive fillers that are being used include HPA, crystalline silica, and magnesium oxide.

HPA however is a preferred filer, due to its heat conductivity (7 times higher than silica) and a much lower thermal expansion coefficient (50% lower).

Figure 1 below illustrates a typical semi-conductor chip encased in an epoxy resin compound with HPA used as a thermal filler.

The heat produced from a semi-conductor chip and the die pad more efficiently dissipates via the alumina rich epoxy resin and lowers thermal stress related problems for the semi-conductor and the assembly package (integrated circuit board).

Figure 2 below is a scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of HPA used as a filler material in an epoxy resin moulding compound. The image demonstrates the efficiency of the conductive filler within the epoxy resin package.

The purity of the material selected as the conductive filler in an epoxy resin for use in the semi-conductor industry is extremely important, consequently there are very stringent (and low) limits on the impurities permitted in the chosen filler.

Of the impurities, sodium is probably the most detrimental element.

Radioactive material is another detrimental impurity, as gamma rays from an impurity such as thorium increases the likelihood of semi-conductor and/or CPU malfunction.

Thorium is present in bauxite, the traditional feedstock used for the production of aluminium.

A small amount of thorium residue will remain in any HPA produced via the conventional bauxite – alumina – aluminium production process (Bayer process).

Thorium is not present in HPA that is produced from Altech’s kaolin HCL processing route.

Special morphologies (crystal form, shape and structure) are also demanded of the EMC filler, in the case of HPA the industry requires a morphology that is conducive to low viscosity, an attribute that is favourable in the epoxy resin packaging process.

Altech’s preliminary investigation into the demand for high quality HPA from the EMC semi-conductor market indicates a global market size in the range of 700 – 900tpa, with a price of US$100/kg being commanded by product that meets required specifications.

Year-on-year growth in the market is typically in line with growth experienced in the semi-conductor business.

Altech believes that its low sodium HPA, and the morphology of its HPA, may be ideal for the EMC semi-conductor application, and the company intends to commence the development of a product specification that may suit this market sector’s requirements.