Q&A – IronRidge Resources

Materials World magazine
1 Oct 2017

Natalie Daniels speaks to Vincent Mascolo, CEO and Managing Director of IronRidge Resources, Australia, about the company’s plans for gold and lithium exploration. 

Tell me about your background and career to date.

I'm a mining engineer with 25 years’ experience in the design and development of major infrastructure projects, predominantly in Australia. I’ve worked in the resource sector since 2000, mostly at a corporate level. In addition to IronRidge, I reside on the Board of DGR Global – a company that creates and develops grassroots resource exploration companies – the source of IronRidge’s inception. 

Can you tell me more about IronRidge and the areas you are exploring?

IronRidge is domiciled in Australia and listed on the London Alternate Investment Market. Our focus, however, is predominantly Africa. We are a multi-commodity, multi-jurisdiction explorer. In short, we are a diversified explorer and developer in emerging frontier provinces, focused on commodities in demand for global urbanisation.

We have some spectacular projects throughout Africa, such as province scale gold portfolio in Chad and a lithium project in Ghana. Furthermore, we are expanding our lithium portfolio in the Ivory Coast. While we were exploring the area, we noticed a gap in the gold prospects, so we secured significant gold ground, as well. 

We also have iron ore in Gabon and a maiden bauxite resource in Australia, but that's not our key focus at the moment. Our main priority is in gold and lithium. That’s where the demand is.

What about that gap in the gold market – can you explain in more detail?

That's probably not the right expression. We were inundated with opportunities for gold, so we took a very close look at that. Our timing was impeccable – we arrived about three or four months before the inevitable realisation of the major opportunity in Africa. Africa is probably what Western Australia was 20-30 years ago – extremely rich and underexplored. We are now one of the largest gold tenure holders in the Ivory Coast, with over 3,000 km2 of project areas. That's what I meant by gap – we saw an opportunity and we took it.

Where is the gold being used?

To my knowledge, gold is in high demand out of China at the moment, and certainly India, for personal use. I think what we're finding is gold is also increasingly being used in the technology and aerospace sectors. It is a fantastic conductor of electricity. Even in phones, there's a significant amount of gold there. Throughout history, gold has been seen as a monetary value and I don’t think that is going to change. Gold will always be a commodity in demand and on the higher end of prices. 

What does your day-to-day work at IronRidge involve?

It's about running the company, corporately. We have a diverse portfolio across Australia and Africa, so I have to manage exploration programmes, liaise with government officials, develop the business and promote our portfolio to a range of demographics and investors. 

There are new situations continuously arising and I have to deal with them, alongside my colleagues, in the most productive and forward-thinking way. 

Overall, the average day is about corporate management and managing our exploration projects.

What can you tell me about the exploration programmes in Chad and Ivory Coast?

In Chad, we have just finished an extensive trenching programme. We've dug down deep to gain a better understanding of the geology of the samples. We complemented the trenching programme with about 10,000 soil programmes across two sites, and we are now eagerly waiting for assay results of the samples. 

Ivory Coast is very similar. We have completed detailed sampling and mapping reconnaissance work over several of our project areas, with recent infill soil anomalies grading up to 3.9g/t, further endorsing our greater exploration strategy for the Ivory Coast. 

What are you hoping the results from the soil programme will be?

We hope it will help us identify a drilling programme. You get anomalies from the soil programmes, while the trenching gives you more detail on the structures that are carrying the gold. We hope to better understand the geology, and from that we can pinpoint where we would like to put a drill programme.

Any initial predictions on where you might drill next?

We're working on that. We know, roughly, which regions we want to drill, but you have to be very specific. It's a big piece of earth, and a small hole – effectively the size of a drinks can. You have to try to get as much information as you can to ensure you hit the right spot.

What are some of the challenges you face going forward?

For a of couple months, we had some slight hesitation as to how we would manage the work moving forward,but we recently completed an acquisition of Tekton Minerals [a mineral exploration company]. 

Part of the acquisition was to bring in the exploration team, which now works solely for IronRidge, so we've overcome that challenge and we are excited to have the team’s knowledge and experience on board.

Judging based on your experiences In terms of Australia and its mining sector, how does it compare to other countries?

The countries we work in are very proactive – they want to develop their mining industries, which means they are very accommodating. 

Africa is eager for foreign investment. The list of mining companies operating in Africa is fast-growing and only further endorses the mining policies and procedures currently in place. 

We have also been really encouraged by the local workforce. There’s a strong will to work and we’re aiming to engage local community members to the best of our ability. 

What are your main priorities going forward with your projects?

We raised £8.25m in June this year, so our priority is developing our portfolio of assets. The plan is to spend a lot of money, time and effort in Chad on follow-up programmes, once we receive results over the next few months. We’ve had a very busy 12 months and we are excited by the projects we’ve secured. 

Lithium is a main priority as we intend to delineate a resource by the end of the year. The electric vehicle industry is progressing at a fast pace and demand for lithium will be through the roof sooner than we think. 

In Ivory Coast, our focus is on more work across the board, as well as tapping into the significant gold prospects we recently added to the portfolio.
IronRidge’s main strategy is to create and sustain shareholder value through the discovery of world-class projects, and I think we are on track at this early stage.