IGO EXPLORATION STRATEGY
IGO’s exploration strategy is to focus on creating transformational value and sustainable growth for the Company and its shareholders through mineral deposit discovery. To achieve these goals, IGO has over the last four years purposefully developed a comprehensive Greenfields exploration strategy, established a ‘best in class’ exploration team, built a portfolio of orogenic belt-scale exploration projects, and invested commensurately with our ambition and ground position prospectivity to fast track material discoveries.
IGO’s disciplined approach to exploration, is designed to maximise the chance of success and maximise the potential value generation for shareholders. Our investment in exploration and discovery is guided using the three key imperatives of (i) commodity and deposit style, (ii) terrane selection and portfolio development, and (iii) geoscience excellence and execution capacity.
Commodity and Deposit Style
To align with IGO’s clean energy metals strategy, the exploration strategic focus is on high value nickel and copper deposits. These specific deposit styles are magmatic nickel-copper (±cobalt/PGE) and sediment-hosted copper (±cobalt-gold-silver) deposits.
These type of deposits are generally large scale with the high nickel and/or copper grades often augmented with significant by-product credits (such as cobalt and platinum group elements or gold). These combinations of metals drive a higher unit value per ton of ore processed to deliver both lower production costs and higher relative margins.
Terrane Selection and Portfolio Development
The selection of key geological terranes for our target deposit styles is based on the application of leading generative geoscience, prospectivity assessments and ranking. IGO’s portfolio comprises orogenic belt-scale projects in the most prospective underexplored terranes within Australia, providing the opportunity to make multiple Tier-1 and Tier-2 discoveries.
Open ground belt-scale opportunities are rare because much of the target tenure is generally held by multiple junior explorers. To gain access IGO has systematically and proactively entered into Joint Ventures with multiple partners to secure access to belt-scale tenement packages. Often, when entering into joint ventures, IGO has also subscribed for equity in the Joint Venture partner to achieve the ideal JV structure of giving IGO access to the land, as well as owning a position in the JV partner should a discovery be made on JV ground. As at 30 September 2020, approximately A$75M of IGO’s A$113M portfolio of listed investments was associated with exploration joint ventures in our portfolio of belt-scale terranes.
Magmatic Nickel Terranes
All of IGO’s belt-scale nickel-copper sulphide projects are within Proterozoic orogenic belts that contain extensive host mafic-ultramafic intrusive suites with high regional gravity responses, and which occur along the margins of major Archaean cratons, or interpreted Archaean cratons (Figure 1). IGO’s target belts for magmatic nickel-copper sulphide discoveries are:
- The Fraser Range portion of the Albany Fraser Orogen in Western Australia (WA), which is an area of proven endowment and home to IGO’s 100% owned Nova Operation, Australia’s lowest cost nickel (copper-cobalt) operation.
- The Halls Creek and King Leopold Orogens in the East and West Kimberley are both in WA. The East Kimberley hosts the Savannah nickel-copper-cobalt deposit, and the West Kimberley is an emerging nickel belt following the discovery of high-grade nickel-copper sulphides at the Merlin prospect in 2015.
- The Raptor project in the Northern Territory which straddles the Willowra gravity ridge in the Aileron Province and is a long-term exploration option for magmatic nickel-copper discoveries.
Figure 1 - IGO's exploration projects are associated with belt-scale gravity ridges along cratonic margins
Sediment Hosted Copper Terranes
IGO’s focus on finding sediment-hosted copper deposits has identified land positions in Australia and Greenland, which have similar geology to the Central African Copperbelt. These include:
- The Paterson hosts the Telfer gold-copper and Nifty copper mining operations and two significant new discoveries, the Winu and Havieron copper-gold deposits. These deposits demonstrate the high copper prospectivity of this region.
- The Copper Coast Project in the Adelaide Rift in South Australia.
- Frontier Project in central eastern Greenland where the geology is also comparable with the Central African Copperbelt.
Geoscience Excellence and Execution Capacity
IGO’s exploration strategy leverages the geoscience with the exploration execution capability to deliver a best-in-class exploration team. Geophysics and geochemistry are core inhouse capabilities where leading technologies are deployed a screening and discovery tools. Technology and innovation, coupled with proprietary inhouse databases and targeted research collaborations, are also key enablers to drive discovery success.
IGO’s exploration team is focused on the timely discovery of profitable, high-value nickel and copper deposits and, to this end, IGO employs an Exploration Value Chain process that considers the potential magnitude of mineralisation and probability of success to prioritise exploration investment as outlined in the following schematic (Figure 2).
Figure 2 - IGO’s ‘Exploration Value Chain’
While IGO’s FY21 exploration budget of A$65M remains weighted towards discoveries in the Fraser Range, the focus is now shifting from wide-spaced regional data collection to prospect-scale target generation. Exploration activity is increasing in the Kimberley, the Paterson, and the Copper Coast following several months of pursuing acquisition of the most prospective ground positions via open staking and joint venturing in these areas.