Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (ASX:QPM)’s battery minerals hub proposed for North Queensland has piqued the interest of one of South Korea’s export credit agencies.
The Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, known as K-SURE for short, has put its hand up to provide conditional finance support for QPM’s Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) project.
K-SURE issued an expression of interest, indicating it’s eager to provide debt funding for the project because of its battery mineral potential.
It comes after Korea and Australia’s reciprocal export credit agencies inked a memorandum of understanding late last year, promising to enhance cooperation on critical mineral supply chains.
QPM managing director Dr Stephen Grocott said: “The increasing recognition from governments around the world, in particular the Korean and Australian governments, regarding the importance of critical minerals supply chains will be an important factor in QPM achieving its goal of becoming a sustainable producer of battery metals.
“The support we have received from government-backed lenders to date has been tremendous.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Baek Seung Dal and Steve Kang for their formal expression of interest in the TECH Project and look forward to strengthening our relationship with K-SURE.”
The support from K-SURE adds to what's shaping up as a potential lending syndicate for the TECH project.
So far, QPM has completed the strategic assessment phase of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) application process to advance the TECH asset.
It's also received a commitment letter for conditional debt funding, totalling A$250 million, from Australia's own export credit agency, Export Finance Australia (EFA).
The fine print
In a market announcement, QPM said K-SURE was a logical target for its debt financing syndicate because of its Korean offtakers and shareholders, including businesses like LG Energy Solution and POSCO.
As the official export credit agency of South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, K-SURE has indicated that its participation in any debt funding will take place in line with the terms and conditions of Australia’s EFA.
Of course, the letter from K-SURE does not constitute a commitment or an offer at this stage, and any provision of debt funding will be subject to due diligence and typical terms and conditions.
QPM has also appointed Big Four bank ANZ as its export credit agency coordinator, which will work closely with existing debt advisor KPMG.
According to the company, ANZ has an excellent relationship with K-SURE and other export credit agencies around the world, in particular those that the company is targeting and has received eligibility letters from.
ANZ previously flagged it is interested in providing debt funding via a letter of interest.