May 19, 2020

Independence Group's journey to diversification

John O'Hanlon
Independence Group Australia
Peter Bradford
MD and CEO of Independence Group
Harry Allan
3 min
Independence Group's journey to diversification
In another article we discussed with Peter Bradford, MD and CEO of Independence Group (IGO), the significance of the company's newest asset, the world class, low cost Nova nickel mine which will come on stream later this year. The ability to fund this important development, though, has derived largely from the strategy the company has pursued in the 14 years since its establishment and listing on the ASX in 2002.

The Tropicana phenomenon

By the time of its IPO the company had secured a 12,500 square kilometre exploration tenement on what is now known as the Tropicana gold belt (though at the time it was not known for its gold potential), at the western edge of the Great Victoria Desert. Subsequent exploration and development was undertaken by AngloGold Ashanti, which farmed in to the project in the same year, IGO retaining a 30 percent interest. AngloGold discovered the Tropicana deposit in 2005 and the partners gave mine development the go-ahead in 2010 based on a feasibility study based on mining the Tropicana and Havana deposits, and treatment of 5.8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of ore to deliver average gold production of 330,000 to 350,000 ounces per annum over a ten year mine life.

By 2012, gold resources in the deposit had grown to 7.89 million ounces, establishing Tropicana as fourth largest gold mine in Australia. First ore was sent to the crushing circuit in August 2013, first gold was poured on 26 September, ahead of schedule and on budget, and the processing plant successfully achieved its ramp-up target of 95 percent plant availability at a throughput rate of 5.8 mtpa within six months.

"For IGO, Tropicana has been, and continues to be a fun ride, says Bradford. “Once the startup and first production were behind us we started to unlock additional value in the project. One opportunity is ongoing exploration along the Tropicana belt for the next Tropicana, so watch this space because we think it may be there. Another is by “drilling at depth beneath the existing Tropicana pits, most of which bottom out on the lack of drill information, where we expect to be able to significantly expand the known resources through this drilling.”
Additionally, there's room to optimise production. Work to expand plant's nameplate capacity from 5.8 mtpa to more than 7 mtpa is coming to its final stages, he says. “The joint venture partners recognised that major items of equipment like the crushers, the high pressure grinding rolls and the ball mills all had spare capacity, this allowed us to expand capacity by working through the bottlenecks in the materials handling of the crushing circuit and slurry circuits, upgrading conveyors and pumps.” All that remains is to complete the additional capacity in the carbon-in-leach circuit, to bring residence time back to design levels, so that recovery levels are maintained at the higher throughput rate

The rest of this article can be found in the August issue of Business Review Australia & Asia.

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Apr 29, 2021

C-suite spotight: Melanie Perkins, CEO, Canva

Kate Birch
4 min
In our regular C-suite spotlight for APAC, we profile co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn Canva, tech entrepreneur and billionaire Melanie Perkins
In our regular C-suite spotlight for APAC, we profile co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn Canva, tech entrepreneur and billionaire Melanie Perkins...

Who is Melanie Perkins?

She’s the co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn online design platform Canva, who ultimately became one of tech’s youngest female CEOs, at just 30, and recently became a billionaire aged 35, making her one of Australia’s richest and youngest. 

Why is she in the spotlight right now?

Because less than a year after securing a US$6bn valuation during the pandemic, which provided a big boost to business, Canva has recently more than doubled its valuation, securing a $15bn valuation, which makes Perkins a billionaire, according to Forbes. The valuation comes in the wake of a new funding round in the first week of April 2021 led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer and raising $71m. At the same time, Canva announced its business has passed $500m in annualised revenue, up 130% from the year before. 

What is Canva and why is it so successful?

Launched in 2013 by co-founders Melanie Perkins (CEO), Cliff Obrecht (COO) and Cameron Adams (Chief Product Officer), Sydney-headquartered Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design product that allows users to create everything from social media graphics to presentations and other visual content, as well as offering paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, with 3 million of its now 55 million users taking paid subscriptions. 

Accruing 750,000 users in its first year, following a number of rounds of investment including from Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital in 2019 and this month’s massive funding round, Canva now boasts 55 million users across 190 countries, with offices in Sydney, Beijing, Manila, and most recently Austin, Texas, and is valued at $3.2 billion. 

And while the company was originally most popular with SMEs, helping them draft and design print and digital assets, it’s since grown to become a real-time collaboration suite that’s being used by big firms including McKinsey, Salesforce and American Airlines. In fact, Canva claims that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform’s services. They continue to add new features and during the pandemic, added presenter video recording tools. 

How did Perkins get there?

The idea of Canva came to Perkins when she was at the university of Perth, where to earn money on the side she taught students design programmes. Many of her students found platforms like Adobe complicated and frustrating, and the ideas came to her to simplify and democratise design, to make it more approachable and accessible, more collaborative, and ultimately to empower all in design. So, she and university peer Cliff Obrecht, who became Canva co-founder and Perkins’ husband, created an online school yearbook design business, Fusion Yearbooks, to test it out. Operating from her mum’s living room, the yearbook design business was a massive success, expanding to New Zealand and France, and remains the largest yearbook publisher in Australia. 

However, Perkins did not give up on her dream to create a one-stop-shop design site and at one point spent three months living with her brother in San Francisco where she pitched to more than 100 venture capitalists, all of whom rejected Canva. It was following a chance encounter at a conference in Perth with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai, Perkins was winning over major investors including Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and building out Canva’s design platform with a fast-growing team of tech engineers and a high-profile tech advisor, Lars Rasmussen who co-founded Google Maps. 

It was in 2012 when things really kicked off however when Perkins and Obrecht found a tech co-founder in Cameron Adams. The same year, they closed their first funding round, which was oversubscribed and raised $1.5m, with Canva going live in 2013. In 2019, an $85m funding round led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital gave the company a valuation of $3.2bn, before the most recent funding around in April 2021 leading to a valuation of $15bn. 

In her own words… 

"I think it's pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations. Knowing that it's tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles – somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it's most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this."

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