Diatreme Re­sources chief ex­ec­u­tive

The Australian Mining Review - - FRONT PAGE - NEIL MCIN­TYRE

Min­eral sands de­vel­oper Diatreme Re­sources’ foot­print ex­tends from WA to QLD. Sup­ported by a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in fi­nance and re­sources, Mr McIn­tyre spoke with Cameron Drummond about the growth of zir­con and sil­ica in Asian mar­kets, as well as the pro­gres­sion of Diatreme’s Cy­clone, Cape Bed­ford and Tick Hill projects.

Q. What is your pro­fes­sional his­tory?

I’ve worked in the fi­nance and re­sources sec­tor for my whole ca­reer, in­clud­ing over­seas posts.

My ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes more than 25 years’ se­nior man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence at na­tional and state lev­els in Aus­tralia, Asia and the Pacific, in­clud­ing eight years as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Pacific Cap­i­tal in Pa­pua New Guinea, a bou­tique mer­chant bank fo­cussed on nat­u­ral re­sources ad­vi­sory (tim­ber, fish­eries, min­ing and pe­tro­leum) and funds man­age­ment.

I have also held a range of posts, from chair­man to ex­ec­u­tive and non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, at var­i­ous listed and un­listed min­er­als and pe­tro­leum ex­plo­ration com­pa­nies.

Dur­ing my stint in PNG, I was de­lighted to ac­cept the hon­our of an MBE for ser­vices to com­merce, fi­nance and forestry, fol­low­ing my work with re­sources and other com­pa­nies.

Q. Tell us about your cur­rent role.

Since July 2014 I have served as CEO of Bris­bane-based Diatreme Re­sources, hav­ing pre­vi­ously served as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor since 2011.

Since ac­cept­ing the role of CEO I have worked to cut over­heads and re­fo­cus our ex­plo­ration port­fo­lio, with a clear fo­cus on our flag­ship Cy­clone Zir­con project in Western Aus­tralia. Dis­cus­sions are un­der­way with po­ten­tial Chi­nese off­take part­ners and we are con­fi­dent of pro­gress­ing this project amid an im­prov­ing out­look for zir­con.

In ad­di­tion to Cy­clone, we are un­der­tak­ing ex­plo­ration work at our Cape Bed­ford project in North Queens­land, which is con­sid­ered highly prospec­tive due to its lo­ca­tion near the world’s big­gest sil­ica sand mine.

Our Tick Hill gold project near Mount Isa is also seen ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing near-term cash flow.

Q. How is the Cape Bed­ford project track­ing?

On Novem­ber 30, we an­nounced an update high­light­ing Cape Bed­ford’s po­ten­tial for large-scale sand ex­trac­tion, with plans for ad­di­tional drilling on high-value tar­gets.

Cape Bed­ford is con­sid­ered ca­pa­ble of help­ing to sat­isfy an emerg­ing Asian sil­ica sand sup­ply deficit, and the project is favourably po­si­tioned as the clos­est high-grade un­de­vel­oped project to the world’s largest sil­ica mar­kets in Asia.

Given we have only com­menced ex­plo­ration on a small frac­tion of the ten­e­ment area and have al­ready iden­ti­fied clear high-grade sil­ica po­ten­tial, we are hope­ful also of find­ing heavy min­er­als in mine­able quan­ti­ties.

Dur­ing 2018, we plan to com­mence fur­ther ex­plo­ration drilling pend­ing ap­provals from the tra­di­tional own­ers, and we see an ex­cel­lent out­look for this project.

Q. How are your other projects go­ing?

Our flag­ship Cy­clone project has been ex­ten­sively de-risked, with min­is­te­rial ap­proval for a new min­eral sands mine re­ceived in early 2017 fol­low­ing the se­cur­ing of an agree­ment with the tra­di­tional own­ers, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of suit­able wa­ter, and ex­pan­sion of the pro­jected min­ing life.

We are now work­ing to ad­vance a Bank­able Fea­si­bil­ity Study, sup­ported by our Chi­nese part­ner ENFI, which is backed by state-owned en­ter­prise Met­al­lur­gi­cal Cor­po­ra­tion of China.

ENFI through their ex­ten­sive Chi­nese SOE con­nec­tions will also as­sist us in sourc­ing po­ten­tial project de­vel­op­ment part­ners, in­vestors and project debt providers as we progress through the last as­pects of the bank­able study.

Q. What is driv­ing de­mand for high-grade sil­ica?

High-pu­rity sil­ica sand has be­come an in­creas­ingly strate­gic re­source due to its us­age in pho­to­voltaic pan­els and other ap­pli­ca­tions, such as com­pos­ite ma­te­rial for high ca­pac­ity lithium-ion bat­ter­ies.

The global glass mar­ket is an­other in­creas­ing source of de­mand from the con­struc­tion and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries.

In the Asia-Pacific re­gion alone, de­mand for sil­ica sand is seen reach­ing 138 mil­lion met­ric tonnes in 2018, while the global mar­ket is seen ex­pand­ing to reach $US9.6 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enues by 2022.

“Dis­cus­sions are un­der­way with po­ten­tial Chi­nese off­take part­ners and we are con­fi­dent of pro­gress­ing this project amid an im­prov­ing out­look for zir­con.”

Q. What are the fu­ture plans for Diatreme Re­sources?

We are work­ing to progress our flag­ship Cy­clone project into pro­duc­tion, tap­ping into an emerg­ing sup­ply deficit for zir­con amid ris­ing de­mand from Asia and other mar­kets.

Cape Bed­ford also of­fers sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial for high-grade sil­ica, adding to our project pipe­line and giv­ing us fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow share­holder value.

Q. What is the best piece of ca­reer ad­vice you have been given?

Never give up, as per­se­ver­ance over­comes all. There are al­ways doubters and knock­ers, but as com­pany lead­ers we need to keep our “eyes on the prize”, stay fo­cused and don’t de­vi­ate from the end goal.

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