Exploration is a key component of Iluka's growth platform.
Iluka maintains a well-resourced and technically experienced exploration function.
Iluka spends on average $20-30 million per year on exploration. Close to 80 per cent of these funds are currently committed to greenfield exploration in areas including Australia, Brazil, the United States, Kazakhstan, Denmark and Sri Lanka.
Exploration also has a major focus on delineating Mineral Resources as part of the commercial evaluation process for new developments which can, following detailed feasibility studies, result in Mineral Resources and Ore Reserve additions.
Mineral sands drilling costs tend to be materially lower than other minerals (including hard rock) exploration due to typically unconsolidated sands and shallower drilling horizons.
Non-Mineral Sands Exploration
Iluka recognises the potential for value generation from non-mineral sands deposits on its tenement holdings. In 2013, the company established an internal capability to assess opportunities for minerals other than mineral sands on existing tenements and as part of tenement acquisition criteria. Iluka conducts geophysical and geochemical work for nickel, copper and platinum group metals on prospective ground within its licence areas in the Eucla Basin, South Australia.
Farm-in and Farm-out Agreements and Joint Ventures
Part of Iluka's strategy has also included targeting mid-stage exploration projects (mineral sands and non-mineral sands) being conducted by other companies to seek to identify farm-in or joint venture arrangements.
Mid-stage projects are those that have a reasonable level of geological information (that is, geophysics, geochemical and/or drill data) allowing a rapid progression to definitive exploration testing. This approach is considered appropriate in an environment where capital markets for exploration are restricted or access to shareholder funds limited and mid to large mining companies have reduced exploration budgets. This strategy is consistent with Iluka's approach to act in a counter cyclical manner. Over the last 18 months, Iluka's exploration team has reviewed over 50 farm-in and joint venture opportunities and announced several agreements.
Iluka has also entered farm-out agreements with other companies with respect to Iluka's tenement holdings and significant geochemical databases.