Wednesday 22nd Nov, 2017

Rinehart’s fertiliser play looking solid

Polyhalite is a naturally occurring evaporate mineral comprising potassium, calcium, sulphur and magnesium. Photo: Sirius Minerals
Polyhalite is a naturally occurring evaporate mineral comprising potassium, calcium, sulphur and magnesium. Photo: Sirius Minerals

Shares in a London-listed miner 5% owned by Australian magnate Gina Rinehart have risen 27% in 2017, as the company progresses plans towards a major phosphate mine in Yorkshire.

Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting acquired a 5% stake in Sirius Minerals in October 2016.

Sirius’ share price dropped in the months following Rinehart’s move, but have rebounded healthily so far in 2017.

The company recently began work at its proposed mine site, and was moved from the London Alternative Investments Market to the main London Stock Exchange late in April.

Rinehart’s $395 million move last year gave Hancock Prospecting a 5% stake in Sirius, as well as a 5% royalty stream on the first 13 million tonnes of Sirius’ polyhalite product per annum, and a 1% royalty on production thereafter.

Hancock Prospecting will also have the right to purchase up to 20,000 tonnes of the product annually, and acquired US$50 million in Sirius shares – roughly 5% of the business at its then-value.

Sirius’ large-scale mine and mineral transport mine will be built near Whitby in North Yorkshire.

The project involves building a mine, a 37-kilometre underground conveyor system, and materials handling and port facilities. Developers are targeting 10mtpa of capacity for the project, and will have the potential to increase this to 13mtpa and, subject to further approvals, 20mtpa.

Polyhalite is a naturally occurring evaporate mineral comprising potassium, calcium, sulphur and magnesium.

Sirius describes the product as “an effective multi-nutrient fertiliser suitable for widespread use in commercial farming”.

Rinehart seems to agree with this analysis, saying last year the deal would greatly benefit Hancock’s agricultural interests.

“This project delivers a new and natural product which is relevant to Hancock’s focus on agriculture and after years of field tests and across many crop types, demonstrated improved yields,” she said.

“I am advised that Sirius is working to progress the project and has the potential to become one of the world’s leading producers of multi-nutrient fertiliser, and could have a life of 100 years.

“This fits with my approach of investing in strategic areas for the long term, and I hope the product is of assistance to many Australian farmers.”