Ironbark Zinc Ltd.

A model lead-Zinc project


In North Greenland, the Citronen Fjord has received a great deal of attention for the zinc and lead mineralisation housed within it. It’s a dramatic place for mining, with an unforgiving and captivating terrain, increasingly governed by Greenland proper, in place of the Kingdom of Denmark who previously entirely controlled the country. It is also home to the Citronen Project, belonging to Ironbark Zinc Limited, an ASX-listed Western Australian mining house which specialises in base metal exploration and development in Greenland and Australia. Citronen is Ironbark’s principle project today, and on closer inspection, it is not difficult to see why.

IRJ catches up with Jonathan Downes, Managing Director, to discover how the company is prepped and on time to complete its definitive feasibility study, financially backed to begin mining and just how large and grade-attractive Citronen really is.

Why Citronen?

Downes says that following Ironbark’s very small listing in 2006 focused on base metals exploration, 2007 presented the company with an opportunity to acquire a very large base metals project.

“We sought out major partners such as Glencore, the world’s largest commodity trading house, and raised $26 million,” he continues. “In 2008 we conducted a major field season on the project and expanded the resource by 38 per cent to ratify Citronen as a world class base metals deposit.”

To date, there has been 45,000 metres of diamond drilling on the project and Downes says that from a development prospective the company is looking at 56 million tonnes of lead and zinc within the much larger global resource.

“It was discovered in 1993, making it one of the most modern major base metal discoveries in the world. It expresses from surface and has never been mined,” he says. “This drill season over 2010, we’ve just landed our fourth wholly-owned diamond drilling rig onsite. At base camp we have contracted drillers and crew to operate four diamond drill rigs 24 hours a day up until September (2010) and the site is supported by bulldozers, forklifts, tractors—all the equipment onsite is owned by the company.”

Ironbark is right on track to deliver its Definitive Feasibility Study for Citronen by the end of this year, and Downes explains that there are a number of different strengths behind it as it goes about doing this. These strengths range from financial stability, to project size and potential for growing the resource, to its applicability to preferential mining methods too.

Ironbark and Citronen: key strengths

Downes says the fact that Ironbark is well-financially supported, most recently being backed by Nyrstar, the world’s largest zinc producers who have taken a significant stake in the company, is of course a great advantage as it works on Citronen.

“Ironbark is fully funded to complete its Definitive Feasibility Study right up to its decision to mine, we’re not looking to raise any further capital,” he explains. Downes says that there are several significant benefits which have allowed Citronen to warrant such attention from mining majors.

“The first is because it’s exceptionally large and remains open in pretty much every direction so the true ultimate size is not really known, but we have evidence that it’s probably north of 350 million tonnes in size,” he says. “The second significant benefit for this project is that it is in Europe, so it has what we consider to be negligible sovereign risk. Thirdly, the project is very amendable to density separation, or gravity upgrading of the ore.”

In fact, the very first sample, taken from the middle of Citronen’s first ore zone which Ironbark has targeted for development, returned a 100 per cent upgrade.

“That has enormous ramifications when you consider operating costs and capital costs. We now need half the scale processing plant that one would otherwise need, for example, because half of much material is being sent to the processing plant,” Downes explains. “Then during the DMS process, which is a very cheap process, we only lose about two per cent of our metal so the ore is very amendable to DMS processing.”

Add to this the project’s positioning which allows access through a standard arctic shipping window offering access to Europe and North America, Ironbark’s expert team, owned equipment, and the great buzz surrounding the Citronen Fjord, and the company has itself a very large project with an awful lot of promise.

Towards the Definitive Feasibility Study, and beyond

Ironbark’s unique and strong position with Citronen has come along at an opportune time, as Downes says that Greenland is looking towards ultimately getting independence from Denmark.

“To help that process, Greenland needs to look towards financial independence,” he adds. “Mining and petroleum projects are likely to help in their quest.”
This is a mutually beneficial situation for both Ironbark and the country within which Citronen lies, and somewhat aids the long process as the company continues to work towards achieving this goal for 2010.

“The most important goal for us to achieve now is to complete the Definitive Feasibility Study within the year of 2010 and we’re on track for that,” Downes says. “Following that, the development times for production are aggressive and we consider it achievable.”

Make no mistake; Citronen is a big project with big promise. Only a company with the solid knowledge, focus and backing of Ironbark could really tackle it with success, slate the Definitive Feasibility Study for the end of this year and stand funded to mine as and when is economically viable. This company demonstrates just how to take on these major projects and work with emerging minerals and mining regions such as Greenland, to bring on projects which show so much promise today.

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