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I-minerals Inc  (IMAHF)
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    Sector  Basic Materials    Industry Metal Mining
 


 

I-minerals Inc

Business Description


We were incorporated under the laws of British Columbia, Canada in 1984. In 2004, we changed our corporate jurisdiction from a British Columbia company to a Canadian corporation. In December 2011, we amended our articles to change our name from “i-minerals inc.” to “I-Minerals Inc.”

The company engaged in the development of our Helmer-Bovill industrial minerals property (the “Helmer-Bovill Property”). The Helmer-Bovill Property, in which we hold a 100% interest, is comprised of 11 mineral leases totaling 5,140.64 acres located approximately 6 miles southwest of Bovill, Latah County, Idaho.

We acquired the Helmer-Bovill Property from Idaho Industrial Minerals (“IIM”) pursuant to an Assignment Agreement with Contingent Right of Reverter (the “IIM Agreement”) dated August 12, 2002, as amended August 10, 2005, August 10, 2008 and January 21, 2010, between I-Minerals USA (formerly Alchemy Kaolin Corporation), our wholly owned subsidiary, and IIM. Under the terms of the IIM Agreement, we issued a total of 1,800,000 common shares to IIM.

Our principal executive office is located at Suite 880, 580 Hornby Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and our telephone number is (877) 303-6573.

To date, we have not earned significant revenues from the operation of our mineral properties. Accordingly, we are dependent on debt and equity financing as its primary source of operating working capital. Our capital resources are largely determined by the strength of the junior resource markets and by the status of our projects in relation to these markets, and its ability to compete for investor support of its projects.

Our lead project, the Bovill Kaolin Project, is a strategically located long term resource of high purity quartz, potassium feldspar (“K-spar”), halloysite and kaolinite formed through weathering of a border phase of the Idaho Batholith causing all minerals to be contained within a fine white clay-sand mixture referred to as “primary clay.” The Bovill Kaolin Project is located within 3 miles of state highways with electricity and natural gas already at the property boundary.

Since 2010, our exploration work has focused diamond drilling on the Bovill Kaolin Project. To date, a total of 258 diamond drill holes have been drilled totaling 28,251 feet. As a result of these drill campaigns, four deposits have been identified: Kelly’s Hump, Kelly’s Hump South, Middle Ridge and WBL.

In carrying out our activities at the Bovill Kaolin Project, we are focused on the development and, based upon the positive results of the 2016 FS, raising sufficient capital to build the mine and commence the extraction of the industrial minerals set forth below.

Kaolin

Kaolin is a raw material used in the ceramic industry, especially in fine porcelains. Large quantities of kaolin are used in paper coating, filler, paint, plastics, fiberglass, catalysts, and other specialty applications. It is also used as a key ingredient in natural pesticides that are suitable for organic farming applications.

When kaolin is heated to about 850°, it is transformed into a dehydrated phase called "metakaolin." Metakaolin is considered a premium material as it adds strength and durability to cement based products. When metakaolin is added to cement-based mortars, it causes an aggressive reaction with calcium hydroxide (lime), turning the lime into a cementitious material yielding cement with enhanced performance characteristics including increased strength; reduced permeability; greater durability; effective control of efflorescence; and control of degradation caused by Alkali-Silica Reaction. A bridge deck in a northern climate where it is subject to the wear and tear associated with plowing and salting is a prime metakaolin application. We are continuing long term testing process of several metakaolin products produced from the Bovill Kaolin deposits and have received ASTM C-618 certification for two of our products indicating the Bovill Metakaolin is an accredited pozzolan that meets all strength and water consumption requirements. ASTM C-618 certification is a prerequisite for sales into the cement industry. Additional testing is focused on optimizing the fineness of the grind or particle size to create the metakaolin product that provides the greatest strength while meeting the water requirement criteria.

Our target market for metakaolin is the North American concrete and infrastructure industry. Premium white metakaolin is currently priced at $500 per ton in the Pacific Northwest due to the transportation costs to bring it from the southeastern USA. We are targeting applications where color is not as important and pricing used in the 2016 FS is $231 per ton. The 2016 FS forecasts average annual production of about 40,000 tons of Bovill Metakaolin and the Company has non-binding letters of interest from various cement and construction companies for tonnage well in excess of this amount.

Halloysite

We plan to sell Halloysite on a worldwide basis. Halloysite is chemically identical to kaolin. When water is added to the kaolin chemistry its plate like structure takes on a tubular shape, identified as halloysite. Much of the value of halloysite is generated by its tubular shape which can only be seen through very powerful microscopes and are commonly referred to as halloysite nanotubes and abbreviated as HNTs.

Historically, the primary use of halloysite has been in the manufacture of porcelain, bone china, and fine china where the combination of low iron and titanium content together with the hollow tubular shape of the mineral grains yields ceramic bodies with exceptional whiteness and translucency. However, the HNTs microscopic tubular shape is rapidly finding uses outside of the ceramics industry. Applications in commercial production would include use as a suspension agent in glaze preparations as well as in filters and inkjets, and as an ingredient in special paints applied to ships to prevent barnacles from growing on the ships’ hull. HNTs are also being increasingly used in plastic and polymer applications where the addition of HNTs increases strength while reducing the weight of these compounds. Perhaps the most exciting uses for HNTs are in life science applications where the inside of the hollow tube can be filled with active ingredients and as the clay tube erodes the active ingredients are released. Used in this manner the HNTs are a delivery vector made of natural materials.

The largest supplier of commercial halloysite product available at present is located in Maturi Bay, New Zealand. There is limited production in Poland, Turkey and China, and a development stage project in Utah with negligible commercial production. The largest halloysite supplier in the ceramics industry sells halloysite at a price from $135 to $3,000 per ton. The majority of imported halloysite in the United States for the ceramics industry is sold at a price of approximately $700 per ton.

Our halloysite is differentiated from those known halloysite deposits due to the high aspect ratio (the ratio of the length of the tube to the diameter of the tube) and by minimal levels of trace elements such as lead. We are not targeting ceramic applications with our halloysite and instead focusing on the life science and plastic and polymer applications. Third party research has indicated we have arguably the best halloysite for life science applications as the New Zealand deposit contains about 10% Cristobalite – a silica oxide that has been categorized as a carcinogen and the other deposits capable of meaningful commercial production have poorer aspect ratios and higher heavy metal / trace element content.

The Company is planning on producing two halloysite products. The first branded HalloPure will be about 70% halloysite and 30% kaolinite and will target the plastic and polymer and certain filtration applications. The second is branded ULTRA Hallopure and will be in excess of 90% halloysite and less than 10% kaolinite. Both are considered high value products. In the 2016 FS, halloysite production varied from about 10,000 tons to 15,000 tons per year, split equally between the two halloysite products. HalloPure was priced at about $700 per ton and ULTRA Hallopure at about $1,400 per ton.

To date we have received interest in our HNTs from a number of companies in a wide range of industries including: personal care products, nano-composites, fire retardants, biocides, plastic fillers, animal feed, paint, and ceramics. Most of these companies have received samples of our products produced at recent pilot plants with some companies receiving up to 50 kg for bench scale product testing. We have also provided samples free of charge to several universities to help with the development of other new HNT applications. Currently the Company has non-binding expressions of interest approximately equal to forecast production.

Quartz

Quartz (SiO2 or silicon dioxide) is crystalline silica, the second most common mineral in the crust of the earth. It is known for its hardness and is well known for its use in glass. However, different types of glass require different SiO2 purity levels with some types of glass requiring the SiO2 content in quartz to have purity levels in the 97-99% range to be suitable. Although silicon dioxide is abundant, not all deposits are chemically identical, with the SiO2 purity and the levels of various trace element impurities varying across different deposits. Contamination of quartz can be from mineral and fluid inclusions and non-silica elements entering atomic sites usually occupied by silicon and oxygen. Our quartz operations at the Bovill Kaolin Project will focus on two levels of purity in excess of 99.8% SiO2 and is prepared to introduce a third product as market conditions warrant.

The Company has branded the quartz products TrueQ. The least pure product is True Q1 where the “1” indicates the material has been processed once through flotation. The high purity product is True Q3 where the “3” indicates the material has been floated three times to remove the maximum amount of impurities possible. Bench scale production at the recent pilot plant indicates the True Q1 will grade 99.86% SiO2 or higher and the True Q3 99.97% SiO2 or higher. The True Q1 will be offered in three different grinds or particle size: 50 mesh, 200 mesh and 325 mesh. “Mesh” references the number of openings in a 1 inch by 1 inch screen. As additional work and expense is required to further grind the basic 50 mesh product into finer grained products (200 or 325 mesh products), the finer grind products sell at higher prices than the basic 50 mesh product.

Potassium-Feldspar (“K-spar”)

K-spar is primarily used in ceramic bodies and glazes. We have run several pilot plants to produce K-spar. Grades have varied between 12.2% K2O and 13.1% K2O with low iron and high alumina. A high quality K-spar product has high K2O, high alumina and low iron. Iron tends to cause a darkening of the glaze when the ceramics are heated to high temperatures in a kiln. The quality of the K-spar produced in the pilot plant exceeds virtually all other commercially available K-spar products. The North American market is currently in short supply and the sole producer is offering a product of 9.5% - 10.0% K2O and about twice the iron (Fe) content of our K-spar. The shortage is driven by the largest producer in the United States shut down production at its Georgia operations in December 2014 when it ran out of reserves after 57 years of production. This company is attempting to service the North American market with a more expensive European K-spar product. The ceramics industry has extensively tested our K-spar product and it has been favorably written up in trade publications. Interest in the K-spar product that will be marketed under the brand name Fortispar is very strong.

Similar to quartz, we will offer our Fortispar in three grinds or particle sizes; a basic 30 mesh product as well as 200 and 325 mesh fine grind products. Fortispar will be sold primarily into K-spar North American ceramics and glass industries. We also plan to focus on producers of high clarity glass, ceramics, sanitary ware, tableware, and paint. Industrial and marine paint manufacturers also use an ultra-fine grind variety of feldspar. Pricing of our Fortispar product in the 2016 FS ranged from $217 per ton for the basic 30 mesh product up to $400 per ton for small quantiles of the fine ground product. We currently have non-binding expressions of interest in our K-spar product in excess of our production capacity.

   

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