Cleaner Water and Stronger Aluminum Drive Clean TeQ's Future
Australia's Clean TeQ Holdings Limited, a long-time industry leader in environmental remediation, has recently partnered with China's largest power generator to treat waste water with its unique continuous-ion technology. This technology also allows Clean TeQ to extract metals from minerals and industrial waste, but as Clean TeQ Chairman Sam Riggall explains in this interview with The Gold Report, the company is also on track to open the world's first standalone scandium mine and has already inked collaboration agreements with the end users that will use this currently rare metal to make aluminum lighter and stronger.
Sam Riggall is the chairman of Clean TeQ Holdings Limited. He was previously executive VP of business development and strategic planning at Ivanhoe Mines and before that worked for over a decade at Rio Tinto in a variety of roles. He led the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement negotiations with the government of Mongolia for Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines to develop one of the world's largest copper-gold mines. Mr. Riggall is a director of Syrah Resources Ltd., which is currently constructing the world's largest graphite mine in Africa. A graduate of the University of Melbourne, he was awarded bachelor degrees in commerce and law.
Clean TeQ's RIP Pilot Plant Being Assembled. Photo Courtesy of Clean TeQ Holdings Limited
The Gold Report: Clean TeQ Holdings Limited was founded in 1990 as an air-purification business; a quarter-century later it's now in the water purification and metals business. Tell us about the evolution of your company.
Sam Riggall: By 2000, Clean TeQ had become Australia's largest air-treatment company for biological odor control. The company then looked to expand its technology base. It identified very promising technologies around ion exchange and moved to license them. The next decade was devoted to developing, modifying and improving our proprietary continuous-ion exchange process and applying it to those industries where it demonstrates the greatest value.
TGR: You're no longer in the air purification business?
SR: Even though this was Clean TeQ's sole revenue-generating business, we sold it earlier this year for around AU$2 million (~AU$2M) with an arrangement for future payments contingent on future performance. The problem was that its business model was cost-plus-margin in a quite competitive industry. We decided that our resources and capital were better directed to the core technology of continuous-ion exchange. So, we are now focused on water treatment and metals recovery.
TGR: Tell us about your history in business.
SR: My career has been spent mostly in the mining sector. I worked for the Rio Tinto Group for almost 15 years, first in exploration, then business development, project generation and project development—the last six years mainly for Rio's copper group, leading the negotiations with the Mongolian government for the development of the Oyu Tolgoi project now owned by Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. After leaving Rio Tinto I ran business development and strategy for Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. until Rio bought that company.
I moved to Clean TeQ as chairman in 2013 as a result of Ivanhoe's founder, Robert Friedland, becoming Clean TeQ's biggest shareholder.
TGR: Talk about the other members of your management team and what they bring to the table.
SR: Our founder, Peter Voigt, is now an executive director. He is a biochemist with a long track record of successful technology development. His passion is solving seemingly intractable environmental problems. He believes that good economic outcomes and good environmental outcomes can be compatible.
Ealden Tucker, VP/GM Global Water, has had a long career in this sector, much of it spent in China. John Carr, our GM of Metals, is an extremely accomplished chemical engineer who worked formerly for Rio Tinto. Ben Stockdale, our new CFO, has 16 years of experience in mining.
Our team demonstrates a good balance of technological expertise and business acumen.