When Pantera Minerals lists on the ASX mid-year, it will do so with a highly prospective iron ore project on its books at a time when iron ore is flying.

The Yampi high-grade hematite project is 149km north of Derby, in the Buccaneer Archipelago and about as close as you can get to water in that part of the world while still sitting on mainland Western Australia.

For those playing at home, the islands which make up said archipelago are something of an iron ore hotspot in their own right – home to Mt Gibson Iron’s prolific Koolan Island project and Pluton Resources’ Cockatoo Island project.

Koolan Island is adjacent, with a reserve of 30 million tonnes at 64% iron and resources of 68 million tonnes at 63% iron. Around 70 million tonnes of ore have already been mined at that project.

At Yampi, Pantera (to be ASX: PFE)  has an 80% interest in a granted 20km2 tenement, with a further 620km2of four contiguous exploration licences currently under application.

The Yampi project, with exploration licences under application in white. Pic: Supplied.

Widespread hematite mineralisation is confirmed, while the project’s coastal locale is a massive plus according to chief executive officer Matthew Hansen.

“It’s a very underexplored area, probably one of the most underexplored areas in Australia,” he said.

“High grade grab and rock chip samples grading up to 68% Fe (iron) have been taken at the project, while its location close to Koolan Island and 4km from the coast sets it apart.

“Being near the coast allows direct access to a deep-water port at a fraction of the cost that comes with the rail infrastructure required by a lot of stranded iron ore projects.”

Rock chip sampling has confirmed the potential for beneficiable ore at Yampi, with a possible direct shipping ore opportunity to be explored.

The Yampi project location with chip sample results. Pic: Supplied.


A significant point of difference

For Hansen, helming an iron ore company is an achievement of special significance. A proud Noongar man, he will soon lead a company in a commodity space where indigenous relations have been a significant talking point in recent years.

Hansen is conscious of the fact that the heads of many iron ore companies in the region are based abroad – a factor which can lead to disconnect with the reality of what’s happening on the ground.

Yampi lies within the Native Title of the Dambimangari People, and partnership with the traditional owners of the land is one of the key foundations on which the Pantera business is built.

Hansen, whose background spans work with a number of mining majors before moving into the legal field as an advisor to resources companies, is passionate about the potential change he can help drive in his role as Pantera CEO.

“As lawyers we are only ever in a position to give advice, with the client making the final decisions,” he said.

“We have very little ability to provide more than legal advice.

“Being at the helm of an iron ore company now allows me to drive engagement with the Indigenous landholders and ensure we work for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Pantera aims to have a constructive relationship with the Dambimangari People and will conduct a field survey with the Traditional Owners in the lead up to the IPO.

The Dambimangari People have entered into mining agreements with the Koolan, Cockatoo and Irvine island Mining Operations in the past.

Fundamentals in focus

You don’t need to look far to recognise that now is a good time for those with iron ore projects.

S&P Global Platts reported its 62% Iron Ore Index hit US$202.65 per tonne this week, passing the previous record of US$193.85 set in April.

Last month, Commonwealth Bank of Australia was reported by Stockhead saying it believed iron ore prices would stay elevated as long as steel mill margins in China remained high.

The timing seems right, and there are plenty of interesting movers in the space as a result.

Pantera is targeting DSO high grade hematite mineralisation at Yampi, similar in style to that of Koolan and Cockatoo Islands, with a series of undrilled greenfield targets to pursue as identified by aeromagnetic, radiometric and satellite data.

Drilling is high on the agenda once listed, and the company has had a rig constructed by local contractor Harrington Drilling specifically to suit the needs of the Yampi project.

“Due to the remote location of the project and the lack of road access to drill locations, a heli-rig is required,” Hansen said.

“The rig has been designed and is being built to our specific needs, and breaks down into 750kg sections to allow for heli-transport.

“This rig is currently in construction with a view to being commissioned late June, and will be transported to a staging location, broken down and then transported by helicopter to the drill locations.”

Pantera will also list with the Frederick base metal project in WA’s Gascoyne on its books – 170km west northwest of Galena Mining’s significant Abra lead-silver project, as well as the Weelaranna manganese project 75km south of Newman and less than 45km from Element 25’s Butcherbird project.