Technology Metals Australia has secured well known private equity fund RCF as a corner stone backer as part of a two-stage $20m placement that will see Technology Metals fast-track the development of its Yarrabubba and Gabanintha high purity vanadium projects in WA. The projects are just south of Meekathara and will seek to capitalise on the resurgent vanadium price.
Technology Metals Australia has secured well known private equity fund Resource Capital Funds, or “RCF” as a corner stone backer as part of a two-stage $20m placement that will see Technology Metals fast-track the development of its Yarrabubba and Gabanintha high purity vanadium projects in WA. The projects are just south of Meekathara and will seek to capitalise on the resurgent vanadium price.
Resource Capital Fund VII will acquire an 18 per cent cornerstone stake in Technology Metals through a $13.5m outlay at $0.375 per share as part of the first stage of the placement.
Technology Metals will look to raise another $6.5m at the same price through the issue of 17 million shares to existing and new institutional and strategic investors.
The company says the cash injection will fund it all the way through to a definitive feasibility study, or “DFS” and will pay for the front-end engineering and design stage of the Yarrabbubba and Gabanintha projects.
Technology Metals Australia Managing Director, Ian Prentice said:“The investment from RCF VII further endorses the high-quality nature of our vanadium assets and provides us with a platform to focus on the integration of the Yarrabubba deposit into the development of the high quality Gabanintha Vanadium Project. The progression of testwork at Yarrabubba has confirmed that the high grade concentrate from this deposit is a game-changer”
Resource Capital Fund VII, managed by RCF Management, is a mining industry specific investment fund covering all hard mineral commodities and geographic regions. Since inception in 1998, RCF has supported more than 200 mining companies in 51 countries and across 32 commodities.
Prior to the deal with RCF, Technology Metals had a two-step plan that would see the smaller Yarrabubba project come to life prior to the nearby larger Gabanintha vanadium project coming on stream.
Technology Metals now says that with the backing of RCF, the company is able to evaluate the development of a longer life Gabanintha operation that also incorporates the Yarrabubba deposit.
Via the new strategy, Technology Metals will look to process high-grade iron-vanadium concentrate from Yarrabubba through the Gabanintha vanadium plant and management believes the initiative could result in improved operational efficiencies and productivity for the venture.
Test work on Yarrabubba concentrates has shown the vanadium pentoxide to be some 25 per cent higher than the concentrate from Gabanintha, according to the company.
Management says the new strategic initiative was also influenced by rising prices of vanadium pentoxide that have surged from about US$5 per pound early last year to more than US$9 recently.
The company has already tabled a DFS on Gabanintha albeit that strategy will likely change a bit now that RCF is involved. The DFS on Gabanintha shows a 16-year mine life projected to deliver total EBITDA of about $4 billion over the life of mine, with an estimated capital payback period of just over three years. Gabanintha boasts some 29.6 million tonnes in ore reserves at 0.88 per cent vanadium pentoxide.
Technology Metals has been looking to conclude a separate DFS on Yarrabubba by the end of this year where it has a 27.7Mt resource going 0.9 per cent vanadium pentoxide.
The emerging global uptake of vanadium redox flow batteries, or “VRFBs”, as a potential alternative to lithium-ion batteries also played a role in the new strategic direction, according to Technology Metals.
VRFBs are rechargeable flow batteries using vanadium in different oxidation states to store energy for later use. The technology was originally invented in Australia over two decades ago.
Benefits of VRFBs include a long lifespan of more than 20 years and their ability to provide grid stability to both small-scale and larger-scale energy storage solutions. They are also non-flammable and provide improved safety when compared to lithium-ion batteries.
Technology Metals sees the emerging battery market as a long-term driver for vanadium demand.
Funds raised from the placement will be applied to the integration of Yarrabubba into an updated DFS for Gabanintha, with a final investment decision for the proposed venture anticipated next year.
With backing from a specialist investment fund and a wallet full of cash, Technology Metals Australia appears well on track to becoming the next serious player in the rapidly expanding vanadium business.
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