Highbank Resources Mobilizes for Summer Aggregate Production
Vancouver, BC / May 21, 2014 / The Prince Rupert area in Northern British Columbia is about to undergo a construction boom to rival Saudi Arabia's recent infrastructure bonanza.
Multiple massive construction projects include Petronas' commitment to a $36 billion LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) transfer station, and the $11 billion LNG facility in the Port of Prince Rupert area. Total announced construction projects in the region add up to about $60 billion.
Some local suppliers and "picks and shovels" business are going to reap the rewards from the 20 years-plus construction boom.
Highbank Resources (HBK-TSX.V) appears to be one of those companies. Swamp Point North Aggregate Project is just 78 miles north of Prince Rupert and has an at-surface NI 43-101 compliant aggregate resource of 72 million tonnes, with initial off-take commitments at least $22.50 per tonne. Aggregate is an industrial crushed rock that is the primary ingredient in concrete.
Highbank's path to production dominates the company agenda for this summer. HBK has received its Notice of Work (NoW) permit and is currently completing the remaining permit conditions prior to gaining access to the site.
The company expects to receive a timber cutting permit by the middle of May and permit for barging operations shortly after. The environmental baseline study has been completed and will form the basis of an application to expand production in the future. The company is now finalizing the mine operating procedures which are required prior to commencement of operations.
The location of the Swamp Point North Aggregate Project is one of Highbank's competitive advantages. Close to the Prince Rupert construction boom, it is also on tidewater, which creates significant cost advantages when moving bulk materials. Highbank can load the aggregate directly onto barges, whereas many of its competitors are forced to truck in the product.
"We have just completed a $2.7 million financing, which is the first tranche of $4.0 million to bring the property into production" states CEO and President Victor Bryant in an exclusive interview with Financial Press, "Those funds have been used to purchase two 35-ton trucks, a D-8 bulldozer, a 27 foot boat for personnel and supply transportation, a crusher and a washing plant and much ancillary equipment – basically everything we need to develop the site and start mining our at-surface aggregate."
Six individuals were involved in the current financing. Some of them are long term shareholders who believe in Highbank's upside and potential, harnessed to the $60 billion construction boom. Bryant describes them as 'entrepreneurial investors'.
Highbank recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hobiyee-Matrix Logistics, outlining a mutually beneficial agreement between the two companies. This agreement complements a cooperative agreement signed in November 2012 with the Metlakatla.
"Matrix Logistics are a Yellowknife – based company, offering helicopter solutions and exploration logistics," states Bryant, Matrix has a Joint Venture Agreement with Hobiyee Management, a First Nation Corporation established to assist in ensuring that the Nisga'a people are able to participate in business opportunities as they arise. It is possible that Highbank will enter into service agreements with the Nisga'a Village of Gingolx, B.C to provide camp staff-cooks, medics and other personnel.
"It is our intention to employ as many qualified first nation people as possible in equipment operation and camp logistics. We see this not only as smart business, but also as a symbiotic relationship. Highbank has also offered to provide technical and advisory support to the Gingolx in developing other projects."
The Highbank Cooperation Agreement with the Metlakatla First Nation, states that they will participate in the economic benefits of aggregate project at Swamp Point North and through a working relationship in the Prince Rupert area.
In April 2014 Highbank received permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to "Construct a barge loading facility, comprised of barge moorage, barge mooring dolphins and a pile supported aggregate conveyor, and barge landing ramp."
HBK also received verbal confirmation from the Canadian Coast Guard that the Nisga'a has attached no conditions as to the traversing of its traditional marine areas by Highbank's barges.
Aggregate is the world's most mined material next to oil. 2013 global sales revenues are around $100 billion. Annual Canadian consumption of aggregate is 10 to 15 tons per person.
About 75% of Highbank aggregate will be used in concrete. Much of the ground in the in the BC North has a heavy clay composition, which is not stable to build on. Construction companies will excavate the clay and use the more-stable aggregate to back-fill to ensure foundation strength.
It is often a good entry point to invest in companies on the concrete-supply chain just prior to a construction boom.
For context, Saudi Cement (SACCO-AB) manufactures building materials like Portland concrete and oil well cements. Its primary market is Saudi Arabia, which is undergoing an infrastructure boom. SACCO stock price has increased 300% in the last three years.
"We anticipate being in commercial production by the end of August, 2014, achieving our annual production rate of 235,000 tonnes by November," states Bryant, "starting with the 150,000 tonne order from North Coast Concrete. But of course our big opportunity is the $60 billion LNG market which will explode in 2015."
Highbank is currently trading at $0.14 with a market cap of $11.3 million.
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SOURCE: Financial Press