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Dominic Tisdell – Apollo Minerals

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ONE OFF THE WOOD: Apollo Minerals managing director Dominic Tisdell (ASX:AON) pulled up a seat at the bar this week to explain his company’s move into Gabon in western Central Africa.

 

Could you quickly take us through the Apollo Minerals project portfolio?

We have three iron ore projects; one is in Western Australia, which is the Mt Oscar project, the second is the Commonwealth Hill project located in South Australia.

The final project is our newest – and that is the Kango North project, located in Gabon in western Central Africa.

At what stage of development are each of these projects?


The South Australian iron ore project at Commonwealth Hill we view as a near-term development project with the potential to be in production within three years.

There is also a good deal of base and precious metals potential at Commonwealth Hill.

We have a large layered intrusive there and recent work has indicated it to be highly-prospective for nickel, copper and platinum group metals sulphide style mineralisation.

We will continue to identify drill-ready targets there and we are also busily working our way through an IOCG review of the property.

Preliminary work has indicated a couple of high-quality targets. We will continue to work them up and hopefully confirm them in the next few months.

The Mt Oscar project in Western Australia is a mid-term development proposition given the lack of port facilities to support it at the present moment.

The Kango North project in Gabon is very much a greenfields exploration prospect, however the work we have done in the past six months, since the licence was granted, has been encouraging.

We consider it to be a project with much potential.

How does the company rank the projects in priority terms?


Our focus sees us currently spending around 95 per cent of our time in South Australia at Commonwealth Hill.

We are busily working our way through the final stages of a scoping study there, which will outline the basic business plan and economics for its development. We anticipate finalising that shortly.

Our Kango North project in Gabon is emerging as our second priority. We have some preliminary exploration drilling work planned for there.

We expect that we should be able to prove up quite a large high-quality resource there. Should that be the case then we will look to fast-track that project as well.

Mt Oscar ranks as our number three priority, simply for no other reason than the lack of port facilities available to us.

The Gawler Craton is emerging as a dynamic region, almost to the stage where it is leaving parts of Western Australia in its wake?


It really is. That was probably best exemplified by a recent announcement from the South Australian state government announcing the moratorium over the Woomera prohibitive Area (WPA) has been lifted.

The South Australian government has recognised that the WPA is highly-prospective for iron ore, as well as Olympic Dam-style IOCG-style deposits, amongst others.

We have ground that is prospective for both, so it is a big announcement for us that people can now get in there and start doing some serious work.

What does the SA government announcement mean for Apollo?


Effectively it means we have more certainty that should we be in a place to submit a mining lease application it is more likely to get the tick from the Department of Defence.

It provides us with a greater amount of certainty of pushing towards production.

You referred to the Gabon project as your ‘new’ project. When did you acquire it and how did that all come about?

 

We worked hard to acquire the right licence in Gabon and were required to go through a rigorous application and review process with the government.

The licence was granted to us in the second half of this year.

We have 400 square kilometres of granted tenements, over which we hold the iron ore and gold rights.

It is very well situated, being only 60 kilometres by rail to a bulk commodities export port, and within 20 kilometres of two hydro-electric power stations.

So it has all the right ingredients – location wise – for being quite a low-cost operation.

How does Gabon shape up in the sovereign risk stakes?


That’s another positive feature of the project - the quality of the government and the stability of the country.

Gabon is, in relative terms, quite a rich nation in Africa with a history in the oil and gas industry, which helped develop the country.

It has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa as well as a stable government that is interested in foreign investment.

It is also a relatively easy place to conduct business, which is great.

Has there been much historic exploration work carried out on your tenements?


Our ground has not had very much exploration conducted on it previously, no drilling that we are aware of, but there are known occurrences of gold and iron ore on the property.

Our recent field work has effectively verified the iron ore prospectivity and we have just recently completed some basic preliminary metallurgical test work that has demonstrated that we can achieve very high mass recoveries approaching 50 per cent.

It has also indicated potential to produce high-quality products of almost pure iron ore grading at 69 per cent plus iron.

That all means we have a couple of good indicators there to achieving premium pricing and low operating costs.

It is interesting that you so vigorously pursued a greenfileds project. You must have liked what you originally saw there?


We did. We went through a thorough Due Diligence process, which entailed a number of field trips over the licence area involving a number of blue chip consultants in the review.

The prospectivity of the tenements stood up after such a grilling as did the indicative economics, which made it a project we were very happy to get our hands on.

You recently announced a resource target for the project that suggests it is behaving how you expected it would?


We are anticipating, initially, between two to three hundred million tonnes of iron ore from the south eastern part of the tenement.

We expect we will be able to increase that exploration target after the next round of field work.

Things are currently looking good in terms of planning the next year’s exploration program with the view of improving the definition of the iron ore resources and starting to evaluate the known gold occurrences.

That all sounds like you have a lot going on in both South Australia and Gabon. How are you funding all this work?


We’re in a fairly sound place at the moment, finance wise. We recently raised just shy of $3.6 million mid-way through 2012.

A healthy amount of that was taken up by India’s third-largest steel producer, Jindal Steel and Power increasing its holding in Apollo to a 9.25 per cent stake.

We still have just over $2.5 million in the bank having completed the work program we had committed to, which was finalising the scoping study and getting a JORC-compliant resource in place for the Sequoia deposit of 72 million tonnes at 25.9 per cent iron, including 5.4 million tonnes at 38.9 per cent iron in South Australia.

That means we will be moving on to our next stage of development with cash in the bank.

So what is the next move development-wise, Africa or South Australia?


We are definitely keen to do both, having said that our priority is moving South Australia towards production as soon as possible.

So most of our money and efforts will be directed to South Australia, but we also consider by spending a smaller amount of capital we can make serious headway in Gabon.