BUSHVELD Minerals, which is exploring iron and tin deposits in Limpopo province, has no immediate plans for a Johannesburg listing as it ponders how best to extract full value from its tin prospects, including possibly spinning them out into a separate vehicle.
Bushveld, which began trading on London's Alternative Investment Market in March, is scoping its Mokopane iron prospect, where a resource of 633-million tons of magnetite has been defined. The plan is to lift that to 1-billion tons over the next year, CEO Fortune Mojapelo said on Friday.
He added that the company would consider listing in Johannesburg as the project south-west of Polokwane was ramped up and needed capital.
"One of the ironies about South Africa is that for a country so well endowed with minerals, its capital markets don't seem to play a big role in the exploration phase. They will more likely appreciate our story the closer we get," Mr Mojapelo said.
Bushveld has £4m, enough to complete scoping and to drill sufficient amounts of the deposit to bring it to 1-billion tons of resources. It will look for further equity funding to complete a pre-feasibility study if the scoping study is positive, he said.
One funding option is to bring in a strategic partner even at this early stage. Asked whether it could be an Asian company, Mr Mojapelo said: "There are players in South Africa that could fit the bill."
Bushveld is also considering power supply, including securing electricity from an independent power producer on nearby coal deposits. It is also assessing rail capacity to haul concentrated iron ore, pellets or pig iron, depending on what option it decides to pursue. There is a rail line 30km away from the project.
The iron-ore project is overlaid by a phosphate deposit, which is used to make fertiliser, and Bushveld will explore its economical viability, Mr Mojapelo said.
The company is looking to consolidate the iron-ore deposit outside its current lease.
Bushveld is 94% held by four shareholders, but Mr Mojapelo said it was cautious about expanding its shareholder base as it was concerned about increased volatility in its shares that could come from a bigger retail shareholding base.
The company also owns tin deposits south of the town of Mokopane, where it is in a scoping phase too. The aim is to start production in two years, but Bushveld has to decide whether to spin out a separately listed, tin-focused company or to keep it in the group and put the profits towards the iron project, Mr Mojapelo said.
"The nice thing about these deposits is that they are fairly compact and can be brought into production quite quickly," he said. "South Africa is a net importer of solder products. We will make a tin concentrate product that could be sent to a smelter, or we could build our own, which will supply the local market with solder and we could export the surplus."