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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Jun 13, 2021

Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?

Kate Birch
3 min
From just US$45,000 capital in 2003 to a world-leading biopharma giant with revenues of US$1.69bn today, Seo JungJin is crowned EY World Entrepreneur 2021

Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.

Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.

JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.

Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.

Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?

A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.

The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.

According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.

Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.

“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”

How did JungJin get there?

JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.

And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.

With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.

“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”


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