Melissa Darmawan: Thank you for signing in. I am Melissa Darmawan. Here to tell us today about Trigg Mining (ASX:TMG) is Managing Director Keren Paterson. Keren, nice to meet you.
Keren Paterson: Nice to meet you too, Mel.
Melissa Darmawan: It’s great to have you in the Sydney studio. For those logging in for the first time, can you give us an overview of the company?
Keren Paterson: Well, Trigg Mining is listed on the ASX, code TMG. Our projects are in Western Australia, approximately 170km east of Laverton, primarily on the Outback Way, which is being upgraded to become a cross-country route. The projects all relate to potassium sulphate, which is a very important potassium fertilizer for food security. Where we are, we made a discovery not yet 12 months ago. We announced it last May. And we built on that history. So an exploratory study, a very positive exploratory study, was published last year, and we are now working on a prefeasibility study.
Melissa Darmawan: ESG as a topic is currently in the center of attention. How does Trigg Mining fit into this?
Keren Paterson: Well, the project itself is really sustainable. It’s about collecting brine. There is no open pit, waste rock dump or tailings storage facility. It involves harvesting solar energy to produce a natural product, and the product impacts the sustainability of agriculture and can also impact carbon sequestration. So fight climate change. From a social point of view, this is a long-term project, which gives us a great opportunity to create employment opportunities for our local owners. And it’s a project that Australia, for all of us as stakeholders, should be really proud of. It is therefore an ESG theme long before it became a requirement of investors.
Melissa Darmawan: So what is potash and why is it important?
Keren Paterson: Well, potash is kind of an old-fashioned name for potash fertilizer. And, in fact, its history is that it was produced by burning trees and creating it in a pot. So that’s where the name “potash” comes from. Potassium is essential for all living cells. We need it in our diet. We need it in our cells to exist. So it’s important for our nutrition, but it’s also important for the things we eat.
Melissa Darmawan: There is an acronym, “SOP”. Explain to us what it is.
Keren Paterson: Well, Potash Sulphate is also known as “Potassium Sulphate”. It combines potassium and sulfur elements. So that’s two of those four macronutrients that plants need to grow. It is a really effective and clean fertilizer. But there aren’t many natural springs like what we’re talking about at Lake Throssell, Trigg’s flagship project. It must therefore be manufactured using another product called “muriate of potash”, potassium chloride.
Melissa Darmawan: So potash itself, the price has skyrocketed this year. Tell us why.
Keren Paterson: Well, over the past 12 months there have been some big geopolitical shifts. In June last year, the EU and US imposed sanctions on Belarus for what I understand to be human rights abuses. And that impacts about 20%. 100 of the supply of this muriate product, which constitutes the majority of the potash market. China has restricted exports of fertilizers, and in particular SOPs, as it produces almost two-thirds of the world’s sulphate of potash. Other events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have made…. Russia still produces 20%. 100 of the world muriate of potash market. So it’s really immobilized now by 40 to 50 percent. 100, if we also consider China, the supply of the potash market.
Melissa Darmawan: So how does this position Trigg, then?
Keren Paterson: We made a very big discovery in the year, and it’s called “Lake Throssell”, which is on the Great Central Road, about 170 km east of Laverton in Western Australia. This road is important to us because it is being upgraded to become the Outback Highway. And that gives us access to markets in Western Australia and the east coast, as well as a port for exporting the product.
The project itself, it continues to amaze me with its size, and it continues to grow. We have drilled the first 35 kilometers of the deposit and identified 14.4 million tonnes of sulphate of potash, and it is drainable. So we’re not talking about anything we’re going to dig, there’s no open pit or waste rock dump. It’s about pumping the brine out of the ground in a harvestable way, evaporating the water, producing the potassium rich salts to put into the processing plant to produce a truly pure potash sulphate project for our supply eating
Melissa Darmawan: Can you give us more details on the scoping study?
Keren Paterson: Even now, at this very early stage, we are looking at a mine life of 21 years and production of 245,000 tonnes per year of sulphate of potash. And that has a really positive NPV, but it’s almost outdated. Well, it’s really outdated because we based the price on US$550 per ton and the current price is almost $1,000 per ton, so there’s still a lot of upside in our story. And also on the exploration side, so this was on the early part of the drilling, we have now secured more claims which extend our strike length at Lake Throssell to 70 km. So double it. And then we have another project in the same system, the same paleovalley in which we find these rich brines, just south of Lake Throssell, from 35 km to the south. We have identified the paleovalley extension in concessions for approximately another 80 km, which we intend to drill later this year.
Melissa Darmawan: So what are the prospects from here?
Keren Paterson: So for Trigg it’s about expanding and looking at our project, working on a pre-feasibility study. But what I find really exciting about everything we’re working on is a new industry for Australia, a source of potash fertilizer that our agriculture industry needs, and the impact that sulphate of potash can have on the sustainability of our agriculture. If we replace that with muriate that has been used on a large acreage farm, for example, they will have a better impact on the sustainability of that soil, the health of that soil, and then ultimately the crop yields and the food we get to see on our tables.
Melissa Darmawan: Absolutely. Something made locally here is very exciting.
Keren Paterson: Australian product for Australian cuisine.
Melissa Darmawan: Exactly. Exactly. Keren, it was absolutely great talking with you, and I look forward to the next steps ahead.
Keren Paterson: Awesome. Thanks Mel.