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Small mining is canary in iron ore recovery

Small mining is canary in iron ore recovery

One small mining company tests boundaries of iron ore deals with China. Clayton Utz advises.

CLAYTON Utz is advising a Perth-based iron ore producer as it taps into a renewed optimism from Chinese investors to raise $167 million to fund future expansions of its Australian operations. 

The capital raising comes after recent strained relations between the two countries, following the arrest of Rio Tinto's head of iron ore in China, Stern Hu, along with three of his colleagues, for bribery and illegally obtaining trade secrets. 

But while major miners continue to negotiate over iron ore price, new deals with some smaller miners are being done. 

Grange Resources, which has conducted the $167 capital raising, comprising an underwritten non-renounceable entitlement offer and placements to substantial shareholders, is one of those smaller companies. 

Grange chief executive Russell Clark said the Hu episode was unfortunate, but that in the bigger picture China is a massive consumer and Australia a massive producer, reported The Australia. 

The offer was underwritten by joint lead managers Azure Capital and Patersons Securities and featured the participation of cornerstone investor Shagang, China's largest private steel mill, and other major shareholders. 

The proceeds of the offer and placements will be used to reduce Grange’s debt assumed as part of its merger with Australian Bulk Minerals in January 2009, fund its restructure, and provide funds for its working capital and Savage River operations.  

“The restructure initiatives supported by the raisings, as well as additional working capital, allow us to position the Company and its balance sheet correctly for the current financial climate. As an existing producer we are also well placed to benefit from the future iron ore price outlook,” said Clark. 

“We believe future iron ore price fundamentals are very promising. This year’s benchmark settlements are the second highest on record, and we are already receiving numerous enquiries to purchase spot product at a significant premium to the current benchmark," he said.

The Clayton Utz team was led by corporate advisory/M&A partner, Matthew Johnson, and included senior associate Rohan Mishra and lawyer Norman Chan.

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