QMEB » $226M metal operation up for sale after proponent collapses
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$226M metal operation up for sale after proponent collapses

Altura Mining
Altura Mining

A struggling mineral producer will sell off its $226 million alkali metal mine to help meet financial obligations.

Altura Mining has voluntarily appointed Cor Cordis partners Clifford Rocke and Jeremy Nipps as administrators, and KordaMentha partners Richard Tucker and John Bumbak as receivers and managers, of the embattled company.

Mine sale affects 100 workers

The new restructuring team has seized control of Altura’s assets and is urgently evaluating the company’s financial situation.

They plan to transition operations into care and maintenance within weeks and sell off the Altura Lithium Project in Marble Bar, 105km south of Port Hedland. The operation began production in 2018 with a capacity of 220,000 tonnes per annum of spodumene concentrate. It employs about 100 predominantly fly-in fly-out workers, and their future will depend on the outcome of the sale.

“Receivers and managers will immediately commence a process to market the company and its assets for sale and recapitalisation opportunities, and interested parties should contact the receivers and managers to lodge an expression of interest,” a KordaMentha spokesperson said in a public statement.

Sale can be avoided

There is potential for Altura to retain the project through a “recapitalisation or restructure” of the business. However, previous attempts to refinance more than $250M in debt owed to creditors have failed so far.

Cor Cordis confirmed it would still consider all options.

“Part of the purpose of the appointment of the voluntary administrators is to investigate the company’s affairs, report and provide opinions to creditors regarding any proposals, which may be submitted by the board of directors or third parties and to hold meetings of creditors to decide the future of the company,” the insolvency firm said in a public statement.

Operating at a loss

QMEB understands a major factor in the decision to sell the project is a 43 per cent drop in spodumene ore prices from their 2018 peak of US$16,800 (A$23,584) a tonne to just US$9600 (A$13,476) a tonne in 2020, according to the latest Australian Department of Industry Resources Energy and Quarterly report.

This suggests the proponent has likely operated at a loss for an extended time, progressively making the business less viable to run.

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