Can you describe the reasoning behind the spin-off from Heron Resources and what will be Ardea Resources’ primary focus?

Ardea Resources successfully completed the spin-off of Heron Resources’ non-Woodlawn assets, which are focused on gold and nickel in New South Wales and Western Australia. The decision to spin-off these assets was made to allow Heron to focus solely on the development of its 100% owned, high-grade, Woodlawn zinc-copper project, located in New South Wales. Ardea Resources, now operating as an independent entity, will focus on the development of the Kalgoorlie Nickel Project (KNP), which holds one of the world’s largest cobalt deposits. The KNP will be Ardea Resources’ main focus, along with the Lewis Ponds zinc-gold project in New South Wales.

How far will the A$5.1 million raised in the IPO take Ardea Resources and what timeline can we expect to see for the KNP moving forward?

Ardea Resources aims to have a Pre-Feasibility (PFS) study completed for the KNP by the end of 2017. The money raised from the IPO is sufficient to complete the PFS studies for both the KNP and the Lewis Ponds project, and the company will continuously assess its options as it moves forward. Ardea Resources has a strong team behind it, as well as the engineering firm Simulus, which has a lot of experience with laterite nickel. The company is about to drill some core holes in the main part of the KNP’s cobalt zone, which will be used for metallurgical testing. The majority of the KNP’s cobalt mineralization lies within 40m of the surface, but there are parts where it goes down to about 140m to 150m, where there is an excellent grade to be found.

Ardea Resources holds the 7th largest cobalt deposit in the world, so what role does the company aim to play in the race for cobalt and what trends can we expect to see in the near-term?

The demand for cobalt is quite high at the moment due to the demand for lithium-ion batteries, and the electrification of the auto industry is expected to be the true driving force in the next few years. By 2021, most car makers have said they want a range of electrified vehicles, and there is talk of up to 15% of all cars being electrified by 2030. This is a trend that will likely push development and electrification in certain under-developed countries. China, Japan, and Korea have various organizations looking out for cobalt at the moment, as well as companies like Tesla. The widening cobalt deficit into the future, from a few hundred tonnes now to several thousands of tonnes over the next five years, is entirely driven by the technology and battery revolution.

Do you have a final message for the E&MJ’s international readership?

It is becoming increasingly important to understand the provenance of materials, given the ethical issues arising from sourcing cobalt in some underdeveloped countries. Amnesty International has highlighted some of the problems with child labor and unsafe work practices in the DRC. The only solutions are to clean up the supply lines or for people to source their material from somewhere else. With one of the world’s largest cobalt deposits, Ardea Resources would like to be that “somewhere else”.

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