Diatreme Resources chief executive
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.