By Pattrick Smellie
Todd Capital, the investment arm of the Todd family, has taken a 25 percent stake in a West Australian titano-magnetite iron ore development from which its 75 percent partner, Forge Resources, forecasts operating earnings of more A$550 million a year.
ASX-listed Forge announced last December it had bought licences for the Balla Balla tenements, 100 kilometres from Port Hedland, for A$40 million.
Forge announced Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval for Todd to become a joint venture partner in developing a mine for some 250 million tonnes of JORC-compliant titano-magnetite reserves, used in steel-making. Feasibility studies have identified low-cost extraction potential, with the study to be updated by mid-year.
The joint venture agreement lodged with the ASX also contemplates a phosphate mine within the same tenements, in which Todd might take a 50 percent interest, based on its voting rights, should a phosphate mining opportunity also be firmed up.
Titano-magnetite is increasingly seen as an alternative feedstock in iron and steel production, and is abundant in ironsands off the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Australian metals giant Fortescue and NZ-based TransTasman Resources are among those pursuing such interests on this side of the Tasman.
Forge managing director Matthew James said in an interview announcing the Balla Balla project last December that the firm would target some six million tonnes of production annually.
Forge bought the magnetite- vanadium-titanium project from Atlas Iron and said it had secured New Zealand’s Todd as a joint venture project partner to help develop the project.
The completion of the joint venture with Todd and the subsequent acquisition of Balla Balla are dependent on approval from Forge shareholders.
Shares in Forge were unchanged at 40 Australian cents in ASX trading on Friday.
Forge was established in 2009 as a resource and energy exploration company which acquired the Australian assets of Australian-American Mining Corp.