Billion dollar ironsands IPO in prospect

Developers of an offshore Taranaki ironsands mining project say it could be greenlighted within the next three years, and require infrastructure costing between $500 million and $1 billion.

Such a large investment in what could prove to be New Zealand’s largest single source of exports would lend itself to an initial public offering, Bill Bissett, the chairman of TransTasman Resources, the group investigating the ironsands opportunity, told BusinessDesk in an interview.

TTRL began investigating the global scale ironsands deposits, most of which lie within the 12 mile nautical limit off the coasts of Taranaki and Whanganui, in 2007.

It announced in April that Denham Capital, a United States private equity fund linked to the Harvard Endowment Trust, had become a 48 percent shareholder.

Local broker McDouall Stuart also helped find a group of wealthy New Zealanders who have invested “some millions” in the exploratory phase for the project, on which both Government and Opposition politicians have been kept fully briefed.

TTRL has kept a low profile to date, while spending substantial sums understanding the size of the resource, its potential contribution as a world-scale feedstock for steel-making, and consulting with local government, Maori and other stakeholders.

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