There’s been some movement afoot in the Yilgarn lately, if not entirely the kind of movement the region’s players are crying out for.
Jupiter Mines yesterday became the second Yilgarn iron ore hopeful in as many months to lose its boss, with the surprise resignation of Richard Mehan, who only joined the Brian Gilbertson vehicle a little over a year ago.
His departure follows that of Mindax Resources’ former managing director Greg Bromley, who stepped down in April as part of a peace deal brokered to end an ongoing shareholder spat.
While the context surrounding Mr Bromley’s departure was perhaps all too public, the reason behind Mr Mehan’s resignation is unclear. Mr Mehan yesterday declined to comment when contacted yesterday and former managing director Greg Durack, who will take up the role again, was unavailable for comment.
Mr Mehan, formerly the head of Cliffs Natural Resources’ local arm before taking on the Jupiter role, will stay for a transition period but that’s expected to be on the short side.
The shake-ups at Jupiter and Mindax come at an interesting time for the Yilgarn, billed as a potential third iron ore hub for WA but hampered by a lack of infrastructure.
The State Government has backed a crucial expansion of Esperance Port but the process appears to be moving slowly, to the frustration of some. Advertising for parties interested in building the expansion should start later this month but expectations are a preferred proponent won’t be tapped until next year. 2013.
The other uncertainty is which of the Yilgarn’s dozen or so hopefuls will get their hands on the extra 10 million tonnes of annual capacity and which will miss out.
Once the timeline for the expansion becomes a little clearer investors should brace themselves for some bullish statements as would-be miners jostle with their neighbours to get a foot in the door and present themselves as the best candidates.
Meanwhile, still in the Yilgarn, where Radar Iron has defied tough market conditions for tin-rattling juniors to come up with $3.3 million and a new Chinese shareholder, Shinewarm Resources.
As flagged by WestBusiness, the placement at 33¢ a share was made at a premium to Radar’s pre-deal share price of 27¢.
More interestingly, the deal includes an agreement for Shinewarm to tip a further $50 million in further down the line to develop Radar’s hematite project, in return for the right to buy up to 100 per cent of the offtake on commercial terms.
Radar is headed by Jonathan Lea, who recently took over as head of the Yilgarn Iron Producers Association following Mr Bromley’s departure.
Mr Lea, who has a reputation as one of the more genial managing directors in the game, played a role in development of the Carina operation, previously owned by Polaris Metals and now mined by the Peter Wade-headed Mineral Resources. Radar had $1.4 million cash at March 31. Its shares rose 3¢ to 30¢ yesterday.