Image Resources is an Australian firm based in the city of Perth, on the country’s western seaboard. The company is focused on the exploration and development of heavy mineral sands deposits in the North Perth Basin, extending from 100km to 200km north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
As with many regions in Australia, Western Australia is rich in mineral resources. The region is a well-established destination for minerals sands, with the added bonus of having world-class infrastructure and a local workforce which has extensive experience in the area of mineral sands and other mineral resources.
The company’s primary activity has been the evaluation of the 100% owned Boonanarring and Atlas deposits, which comprise part of the aforementioned North Perth Basin project. The work on this has included several environmental studies, environmental approvals, a feasibility study into the Base Case and application for several more approvals.
The Boonanarring and Atlas deposits are high grade mineral sands deposits currently under evaluation, totalling 24 million tonnes at 8.2% heavy minerals, of which 19.1% is zircon. As George Sakalidis, Head of Exploration recently told us: “The grade averages around 8.3% against mining in general region which average around 5%. The zircon in the region averages around 10%, while ours is around 24%, so it’s a much higher grade. It’s much higher than anything else around.”
Image Resources has been listed on ASX since 2002. In 2015, it showed revenues in excess of AU$500,000 and had total assets of over AU$1.3 million. The company had been highly commercially active in the same year, with the sale of some of its mineral sands deposits to Tronox (NYSE:TROX) for $50,000 cash and a sliding royalty.
The company takes its commitment to the environment seriously. In fact, its environmental policy is quite visible on its corporate website for all to see. It’s a thorough document, outlining in several steps where the company outlines all aspects of where it stands on the issue. The highlights of the document are included below. Image Resources AU commits t
- Appropriately manage the environmental impacts of its exploration, mining and processing activities
- Operate responsibly and in full compliance with the applicable environmental laws, regulations, tenement and permit conditions
- Pollution prevention and minimization
- Continually improve environmental management practises and to exceed the minimum requirements set by legislators with regard to all areas of its operations
- Conduct mining in a manner which that ensures the rehabilitation to the agreed land use at the earliest possible time
- Ensure that all employees are aware of their roles as part of the company’s overall environmental responsibility
- Regularly audit and monitor its own environmental performance
These measures ensure that the company does its part for the environment in what has been a traditionally ‘dirty’ industry. With time, companies like Image Resources are recognizing that sustainable long-term investing cannot create the environmental externalities that we associated with such industries in the past.
The company is a respected employer and stakeholder in the broader Perth community. In all of its dealings, it places an emphasis on establishing open and effective communication with the individuals, families and communities that neighbour their projects. Total buy-in is sought from these people and their feedback is taken on board at every step of each project.
As a prime example of this, the company operates a small community liaison office in Gingin Town, a small agricultural town located about 90 kilometres north of Perth. This is locally staffed and provides a readily available focal point and source of information for the company’s projects and plans for the area.
Through this office, Image Resources has been able to provide information on the opportunities for the local communities that will spring from its projects, in terms of both employment and development for the local economy. An area such as Gingin Town with an unemployment level in excess of 8%, has welcome the firm and its community initiative as its seeks to develop its own potential in line with that of the company.
Occupational Health and Safety Policy
Inside the company, Image Resources also has a keen commitment to its staff. Despite plenty of technological progress over the past fifteen years alone, mining industries are still highly labour intensive and in many cases, highly skilled labour. Image Resources’ people, and their well-being therefore, is important for the company on a number of levels.
Image Resources’ Health and Safety Policy, again available on their corporate website, commits to a range of measures to ensure their employees’ well-being. The company aspires to:
• Comply with all health and safety regulations, and in most cases, exceed the minimum application of these regulations
• Establish in-house health and safety procedures and management systems which are integrated into all design, construction and operating activities
• Commit adequate resources for the effective implementation of all health and safety procedures to be carried out to the utmost
• Encourage employees to actively promote and demonstrate their commitment to safety through personal example in their own activities and in the direction of others
• Ensure that all employees are properly trained, equipped and motivated to accomplish their tasks in a safe manner
• Provide leadership around health and safety issues, including open and constructive dialogue with all employees, contractors, visitors, suppliers, customers and the community
• Identify health and safety hazards before they pose an active threat
• Take appropriate measures to make positive contributions to the health and safety of the communities which it operates.
As Mr. Sakalidis points out: “Once we go into production, there’ll be a lot more employees,” so the policy will need to be renewed and added to as time goes on.
As with all mining companies, Image Resources is quite dependent on the vagaries of the prices of the minerals that it mines. This sometimes provides a reflection on the share price, which doesn’t always reflect favourably on the positive externalities that the firm creates in areas outside of the ASX. The firm is seeking in the future to raise about $45m for the development of the Boonanarring deposit.
The company’s MOU with Murray Zircon Pty and its parent company, Orient Zirconic, should fast-track Image Resources’ Boonanarring mineral sands deposit in 2016, as well as providing access to increase levels of capital, technology and expertise for Image Resources to develop other projects as they arise.
Boonanarring is promising but as Mr. Sakalidis points out: ““If we don’t find any more at Boonanarring, we’ll shift the operation to Atlas. If we find more around Boonanarring, we’ll increase the mine life to more than ten years. Boonanarring is very high grade. It’s got some of the highest mineral grade deposits in the world. It’s very high in zircon as well, so that’s very promising.”
In the 14 short years of its existence, Image Resources has made considerable progress on a number of fronts. It has become a respected member of Australia’s growing band of mining firms – making something of a niche for itself in the area of Minerals Sands on Australia’s western coast.
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