For an out-and-out counter-cyclical punt, one company that commends itself is bombed-out Kefi Minerals (KEFI), which has been assembling investors' support for developing its Tulu Kapi gold project, holding an estimated 1.7 million oz. in western Ethiopia. At 0.32p, the shares have plunged from 2006's AIM float price of 3p and a 12-month high of 1.32p, reflecting the fact that gold itself at $1,069 an ounce is not far from 50-% off its historic peaks, while the company, steered by seasoned Australian mining player, Harry Anagnastoras-Adams, former boss of fellow AIM counter EMED Mining, now renamed Atalaya, will need around $120 million (£80 million) to bring Tulu KapiI, not perhaps in the safest part of the world, into production by its targeted start date in the first quarter of 2017.
Earlier today my colleague Robert Tyerman penned some bullish bollocks on African Potash (AFPO). In this bearcast special I explain why he is 100% wrong. This company is drowning in red flags and is a 100% bargepole stock. It is just worthless shite on the AIM Casino. The shares are a storming sell.
AIM dog Noricum Gold (NMG) is trumpeting the discovery of new ‘high-grade copper targets’ at its Bolnisi copper and gold project in the Caucasian republic of Georgia. Investors as yet remain unimpressed, with the shares down from a 12-month high of 0.37p to a new low of 0.12p, having lost 97% of their 2010 4p float price, but managing director Greg Kuenzel characteristically describes it as ‘a fantastic opportunity’.
Currently unloved Starcom (STAR), Israel-based specialist in remote tracking and monitoring of assets and people, is planning to launch a Mark 2 version of its Watchlock high-security padlock and hoping to clinch a big contract for its Helios vehicle tracking range, as founder and chief executive officer Avi Hartmann celebrates what he argues is a transformational joint venture to grow the company in the key North American market. Loss-making Starcom, whose shares spiked up to 21.75p in January on rumours of a deal with Japanese motor giant Honda before crumbling back to a lowly 2.25p now, has formed a distribution and product development partnership with Florida-based SATO Global Solutions, part of Japan’s £600 million-turnover SATO Holdings, market leader in automatic identification and data capture.
Aussie-listed Tlou Energy (TOU) is coming to AIM with a fund raising of up to £1.5 million at a premium price of 6.5p or 14 Australian cents to help develop its Lesedi coalbed methane-to-power project in the mineral-rich but electricity-hungry southern African state of Botswana. The Brisbane-based company, whose shares have fallen from a 32 cents 12-month high Down Under to 11 cents now, has chosen accountancy group Grant Thornton as AIM nominated adviser and Brandon Hill as broker, says funding is already committed to the tune of £1.2 million and suggests the AIM launch proceeds will secure its programme for the coming 18 months to two years.
Unloved West African manganese play Ferrex (FRX) is to pay up to £930,000 in shares to buy into gold production in Western Australia. The company intends to follow that with another ‘higher value’ deal before the end of the year. The UK-based company, whose shares have fallen from a 2011 AIM float price of 3p to 0.45p now, is to buy Chaffers Mining, a private gold mining concern which has a five-year agreement to mine the yellow metal at Paddington in the West Australian goldfields for Norton Goldfields, part of Zijin Mining, China’s largest gold producer.
Loss-making Goldplat (GDP), the AIM-quoted outfit which specialises in recovering gold from other companies’ mine waste in South Africa, Ghana and elsewhere, is celebrating a pre-payment deal with New Jersey-based metal trader Auramet. This has enabled the company, whose losses rose threefold to £796,000 in the year to June on turnover down by a third to £16.6 million, to receive $1.4 million (£920,000) for a backlog of material sold to Aurubis AG of Hamburg, the world’s largest recycler of copper, which also handles gold and other materials.
Transport technology services provider 21st Century Technology (C21) sees ‘a raft of new acquisition opportunities’, in the wake of clinching two useful new contracts worth £600,000, declares chief executive Russ Singleton. He says the Croydon-based company, a specialist in supplying Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and monitoring systems for transport operators which transformed itself in April with the £1.3 million acquisition of RSL Group, market leader in public information systems for bus travel, still wants ‘to broaden our portfolio to provide an integrated service to customers at much lower cost than existing providers.’
Horizonte Minerals (HZM), the AIM-quoted nickel hopeful focused on Brazil, is drawing encouragement from progress with the rotary kiln pilot plant for its Araguia project in the country’s north-central Para state, holding an estimated resource of nearly 100 million tonnes with 1.33% and 1.21% nickel. The company, whose shares languish at 1.92p between a 12-month high of 3.88p and a 1.5p low, says its rotary kiln pilot plant campaign there has ‘produced high-grade ferronickel on a continuous and sustained basis’ and has ‘confirmed production of high-grade commercial ferronickel.’
Shares in Australian coal play Altona Energy (ANR) have bounced almost 50% to 0.43p since we highlighted director Nicki Lyth’s recent flight to China to save the company’s 7.8 billion -tonne Arckaringa coal project in South Australia. Now sporting an AIM value of £2.8 million, the company, whose shares traded above 8p five years ago, awaits the first tranche of A$6 million (£2.75 million) due in early December as part of the A$33 million which its Chinese joint venture partners, Sino-Aus Energy Group and Wintask Group, have been persuaded to put into Arckaringa.
As weak fuel prices and low interest rates combine to enhance aviation’s fortunes, ambitious passenger aircraft leasing specialist Avation (AVAP) is on track to lift its fleet from 29 to 41, taking its assets to $950 million (£629 million), with options on more, by the second half of next year, after agreeing to buy its first Boeing 737. With customers already including Virgin Australia, Air France, Fiji Airways and Thomas Cook, the fully-listed company, based in Singapore but with a strong Down Under flavour, is buying a plane operated by and on a 5.5-year lease to an unnamed Chinese carrier, described by finance director Richard Wolanski as ‘a Tier 1 Chinese airline.’
Entrepreneurial Spain-focused uranium play Berkeley Energy (BKY) says an updated pre-feasibility study has transformed the economics of its flagship Salamanca project by including the project’s shallow high-grade Zona 7 deposit. Steered by managing director Paul Atherley, former boss of Leyshon Resources (which left AIM in June), AIM-quoted Berkeley, whose shares have more than doubled since early spring to 26.5p, says the study was ‘managed internally, utilising inputs from a number of independent contractors’ and argues it significantly enhances the commercial attractions of Salamanca, which is currently estimated to hold a potential 88.2 million lbs of U308 triuranium octoxide.
Stand by for the proposed AIM re-float of Cambridge Mineral Resources, the mining hopeful once headed by colourful entrepreneur David Bramhill, former leading light of Nighthawk Energy and Wessex Exploration. Cambridge, which had dabbled in gold projects from Bulgaria to Colombia before bowing out of AIM in 2009 at a fraction of its original 16p float price, will seek between £1 million and £4 million in an AIM re-launch in the first quarter of 2016, to develop the large-scale Masa Valverde zinc, copper and gold project in southern Spain’s Andalucia region, says chief executive officer Mark Slater.
West Africa-focused AIM dog Stellar Diamonds (STEL) has coaxed a potential investment of £2.6 million from Heidelberg-based investment outfit Deutsche Balaton to fund applying for a mining licence at its Tongo gem prospect in Sierra Leone and to resume trial mining at the Baoule pipe in Guinea’s Aredor diamond field. The company, whose shares at 0.3p have lost 98% of their value since floating on AIM at 20p eight years ago, is also proposing a one for fifty share consolidation, as it prepares to give board representation to Deutsche Balaton, which is itself quoted on the secondary market in Frankfurt and whose stake in Stellar could reach 37.5% with the blessing of the Takeover Panel if shareholders agree to the deal.
Unloved Canadian copper, gold and silver producer Rambler Metals & Mining (RMM) is considering potential funding alternatives in its plan for major expansion at its flagship Ming mine in the Baie Verte peninsula on the country’s north-eastern seaboard after chalking up a hefty C$16.6 million (£7.7 million) loss in the year to July.
Amid the general commodity gloom, entrepreneurial Mexico-focused lithium hopeful Bacanora Minerals (BCN) is making distinctly optimistic noises after reporting a C$2.7 million (£1.3 million) loss for the year to June. Chief executive officer Peter Secker says the company, which floated on AIM last year with a £4.75 million placing at 33p, half its then price on the Toronto Venture Exchange, and now trades at 86p, faces ‘highly favourable demand dynamics, as a result of the vital role lithium plays in growth industries, such as mobile communications, electric vehicles and energy storage.’
Fertiliser play African Potash (AFPO) has fixed funding arrangements to carry out its latest $100 million (£65 million) of supply deals and recruited two former government ministers to its board. African-born Lord Hain, former Labour cabinet minister and as Peter Hain a past leader of campaigns against South African apartheid, is becoming a non-executive director of the AIM-quoted company, which is also bringing Mark Simmonds, recently Conservative Foreign Office Minister for Africa, onto the board.
Africa-focused AIM dog Alecto Minerals (ALO) says new estimates of resources at its Kerboule gold project in Burkina Faso could add 230,758 oz. to the company’s existing inferred resource estimate of 247,000 oz. at Kossanto in East Mali for a combined low-grade resource of 477,748 oz. The new estimates, by independent consultant Wardell Armstrong, but not yet fully compliant with the formal Joint Ore Reserve Committee (JORC) industry code, suggest Kerboule’s gold occurs at 1.16 grammes of gold per tonne of ore, compared with Kossanto’s 1.14 grammes a tonne. However Alecto notes that Kerboule’s mineralisation starts at the surface, with 70% inside the relatively accessible oxide and transitional layers.
Iberian tungsten play W Resources (WRES) is trumpeting a significant increase in potential at its Regua project in northern Portugal, where a new study from independent consultant Goulder Associates has hoisted the formal overall resource estimate 22% above its 2012 level to 5.46 million tonnes with 0.28% W03 tungsten trioxide for a contained tungsten total of 1.53 million metric tonne units (10kg. each). Within that overall advance, the more confident ‘indicated’ component has increased 76% to 3.76 million tonnes at 3.04% W03 for 1.14 million tonnes of contained tungsten.
Indonesian copper play Asiamet Resources (ARS) has increased its estimated resource at the Beruang Kanan Main (BKM) deposit in central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) 43% to 403,000 tonnes or 888 million lbs of copper. The company, previously called Kalimantan Gold and quoted on AIM and the Toronto Venture Exchange, cites average grades of 0.7% for the 105,000 tonnes in the hitherto unoccupied ‘indicated’ category and 0.6% for the larger though more tentative 298,000-tonne ‘inferred’ component.
Spain-focused uranium play Berkeley Energy (BKY) says it expects to start site work in mid-2016 at its key Salamanca project in west-central Spain following official approvals from the country’s Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, the European Union and various, national, regional and provincial authorities. Listed on AIM and Down Under, the company’s shares have nearly doubled since midsummer to 20.75p, as investigation of the project continues to show encouraging volumes and grades, at a time when new nuclear power projects, which need uranium, are under active discussion in the United Kingdom and around the world.
Buying and developing sizeable modern health centres and renting them to general practitioners has been proving a profitable game for fully-listed Primary Health Properties (PHP), a UK real estate trust which aims to boost its present £1.1 billion of assets by at least £100 million a year and hopes to see rental growth in the sector accelerate from its present unexciting 1%. Having made nearly £37 million pre-tax in 2014, the London-based company is proposing to move to quarterly dividend payments and to carry out a four-for-one share split, after lifting net asset value 10% in the first half of this year to £377.5 million or 339p a share, with interim pre-tax profits up 47% to £32.4 million, helped by a £2.2 million interest rate derivatives gain, on a 5.2% increase in rental income to £30.6 million.
Shahruck Khan, entrepreneurial chief executive officer of Oracle Coalfields (ORCP), says he is now ‘working towards financial closure’ for the company’s $1.5 billion (974 million) project to develop a potential 1.4billion-tonne lignite (brown coal) mine and 600-megawatt power station in south-eastern Pakistan, following a key consortium agreement with Shandong Electric Power Corporation (SEPCO) of China.
Mark Learmonth, finance chief at Southern Africa-focused Caledonia Mining Corporation (CMCL), says the company intends to lift gold production from its Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe 90% between 2015 and 2020 to 80,000 oz. a year, with all-in costs driven down from $984 (£647) an ounce to a target $750 by 2018, against a present gold price of $1,166.92c an ounce. The AIM-quoted company, whose chief executive officer Steve Curtis has adopted a different approach since taking over from Stefan Hayden last November, has a 49% interest in Blanket, which boasts a measured, indicated and inferred gold resource of one million oz., and has been striving to improve production, grades and profitability there.
Long-suffering Swedish iron ore play Beowulf Mining (BEM) has taken cheer at a letter from the Mining Inspectorate of Sweden to the Stockholm government recommending the AIM-quoted company be granted an exploitation concession for its Kallak iron ore project in the north of the country, holding an estimated 151 million tonnes with between 26.2% and 27.5% iron. Shares in the company, for long out of favour with investors, have surged from a 12-month low of 1.15p and 2.07p when highlighted here in June to 3.9p, still a mere fraction of former levels, helped by the Inspectorate’s favourable reply about the project to the Swedish Department of Enterprise, which had inquired after the local County Board of Norbotten, where Kallak is situated, had pronounced ‘a mining project at Kallak can bring significant economic benefits.’
East Africa-focused diversified coal play Kibo Mining (KIBO) is sounding increasingly enthusiastic about its 109 million-tonne Mbeya coal-to-power project in south-west Tanzania in the wake of a cheering update on the definitive feasibility study under way on the mining side of the project. With its AIM-quoted shares at 5.38p, between last December’s 12-month high of 9.75p and a 1.17p low, the Dublin-based company hopes to produce 1.48 million tonnes of thermal coal a year as from the first quarter of 2019 ’as long as there are no other snags,’ says chief executive officer Louis Coetzee, to feed a proposed 250-350 megawatt mouth-of-mine powered station to supply Tanzania’s fuel-hungry market.
In upbeat mood, Toby Bradbury, chief executive officer of East Africa-focused Shanta Gold (SHG), has launched the Guernsey-based company’s underground feasibility study, base case mine plan and an updated reserve estimate for its operations in south-west Tanzania. These suggest the company’s flagship New Luika gold mine could produce an average 84,000 oz. a year for five years from the mine’s underground resources at an all-in cost of $640 (£421) an ounce for an initial five years, against a present gold price of $1,131.23c an ounce.
Out-of-favour nickel hopeful Horizonte Minerals (HZM) has agreed to buy financially-strapped mining giant Glencore’s Araguia nickel project in north-central Brazil, near to its own Araguia venture, in a deal which chief executive officer Jeremy Martin says will create a combined operation able to produce 3,000 tonnes a year at a grade of 2% for the first 10 years. Backed by Canadian mining heavweight Teck Resources with a 38% stake, Horizonte, whose shares at 1.65p have fallen from 2006’s AIM float price of30p and a 12-month high of 5.12p, has agreed to pay $8 million (£5.3 million) in stages for the Glencore Araguia Project (GAP) in Brazil’s Para State.
AIM-quoted African Potash (AFPO) has agreed a price of $500 (£329) a tonne for 50,000 tonnes of potash-based fertiliser material it has agreed to supply to the Zambian market under a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in a deal which Dr Chris Cleverly, the company’s executive chairman, suggests will deliver an expected pre-tax profit margin of 6%. The price compares with recent market prices of around $300 a tonne and is higher than many were expecting for this deal.
After cutting interim losses 30% to $4.1 million (£2.7 million), AIM dog Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ) expects to return to profits thanks to a new $4.5 million flotation plant now being commissioned to hoist recoveries and copper output from the company’s flagship open-pit Gedabek gold and copper mine in the Caucasian republic of Azerbaijan. At 6.13p, shares in the company, which increased gold production from Gedabek 33% to 35,938 oz. in the six months to June with copper concentrate production 6% ahead to 689 dry metric tonnes, have fallen 92% since its 77p AIM float 10 years ago, but directors now insist Anglo Asian has begun a new chapter.
Out-of-favour Savannah Resources (SAV) says historical data from Block 4 of the Semail Ophiolite Belt in Oman indicate high-grade copper mineralisation below previous workings at Block 4’s Aarja pit, while trenching by the company suggests the pit could be expanded to the south. The company, whose AIM-quoted shares have fallen from a 6p 12-month high to 2.03p in a sagging commodity market, reports collating historic data from the copper and gold project, which was mined in the 1980s, has revealed some impressive results, including 15.58 metres with 4.7% copper in the AarjaMain deposit, 5.05 metres with 8.49% copper in the Dog’s Bone deposit and 9.8 metres with 3.86% copper at Aarja South.
Gem hopeful Paragon Diamonds (PRG) is celebrating two reports by independent consultant MSA Group on its Mothae project in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho, as it negotiates funding with several potential providers, besides hitherto favoured backer, International Triangle General Trading (ITRGT) of Dubai, for its $8.5 million (£5.6 million) acquisition of the project. Guernsey-based and AIM-quoted Paragon, which is developing its flagship Lemphane kimberlite deposit in the same area, recently received approval from the Lesotho government to buy 75% of Mothae from Swedish tycoon Lukas Lundin’s Lucara Diamonds and says the MSA studies ‘exceed management expectations’ for Mothae, which holds an estimated 39 million tonnes of rock with 2.7 carats per hundred tonnes.
Craig Thomas is celebrating two months as chief executive officer of heavily--indebted southern African copper play Weatherly International (WTI) by tapping into funding facility from 25% shareholder Orion Mine Finance, boosting production from the company’s flagship open-pit Tschudi copper mine in Namibia and studying how to revamp its presently uneconomic underground projects in the same country. AIM-quoted Weatherly, whose shares have plunged from its 8p float price 15 years ago and a more recent 3.88p 12-month high to a mere 0.68p now, has drawn $4 million from an $80 million-plus facility provided by Orion to help ramp up production at Tschudi and apply what Thomas calls ‘real detail and rigour’ to Otjihase and Matchless, the underground projects now grouped in the company’s ‘central operations’ division.
Spanish copper producer EMED Mining (EMED) plans to change its name to Atalaya Mining and to implement a one-for-30 share consolidation, as the AIM-quoted company prepares to boost annual production 50% to 7.5 million tonnes a year from the historic Rio Tinto mine near Seville. EMED, whose shares have fallen from a 12-month high of7.98p to 3.875p with copper in retreat, intends to reach that output level by the end of next June and lift it further to 9.5 million tonnes a year six months later -- with expected extraction costs significantly below even today’s depressed copper price.
Coloured stone miner and auctioneer Gemfields (GEM) has agreed to acquire emerald projects in Colombia in a deal that will take the company across the Atlantic from its key African hunting grounds in Zambia and Mozambique to what entrepreneurial chief executive officer Ian Harebottle calls ‘the home of some of history’s most legendary emeralds’ in South America. The company, whose shares have risen from 35.75p when highlighted here in March last year to 62p after hitting 68.25p, is buying a 70% interest in the Coscuez emerald licences in the Colombian Department of Boyaca, near the Venezuelan border.
Unloved Canadian copper producer Rambler Metals & Mining (RMM) is to take over Thundermin, its 50-50 joint venture partner in the Little Deer and Whaleback copper projects straddling northern Newfoundland and Labrador on the Atlantic coast. This all-share deal follows hard on the heels of a new C$5 million (£2.5 million) offtake agreement for its flagship Ming copper and gold operation in the same region, for whose proposed expansion it hopes to have finance in place this autumn.
Vertical integration is the watchword at AIM-quoted fertiliser play African Potash (AFPO), which has reached long-term agreements to supply Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia with a combined 250,000 tonnes of the stuff at prices ranging from $400 to $450 a tonne. Highlighted here in April at 0.47p, shares in the company, which says it will need upwards of $5 million (£3.3 million) for the next phase of drilling at its West African Lac Dinga phosphate project in the Republic of Congo -- not the strife-torn DRC -- ave now reached 2.3p, as African Potash strives to capitalise on its new treading agreement with the 20-nation Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Entrepreneurial Rare Earth Minerals (REM), headed by controversial Australian resources player David Lenigas, has spent £324,500 lifting its stake in fellow AIM counter Bacanora Minerals (BCN), as work speeds up at Bacanora’s Sonora lithium project in northern Mexico. Following Bacanora’s milestone agreement to supply Tesla Motors, US maker of electric vehicles, with lithium hydroxide for the batteries they need, the Sonora participants have mobilised a second rig to accelerate drilling the second nine holes of an 18-hole programme as part of a pre-feasibility study on the project, which should be completed in the first quarter of next year.
Out-of-favour West African gold play Hummingbird Resources (HUM) has negotiated an extension of its bridging loan facility with Sydney-based investment group Taurus Funds Management from $10 million (£6.5 million) to $15 million and intends to have its 1.8 million-oz. Yanfolila project in Mali in production next year. The AIM-quoted company, whose shares have fallen from a 2010 float price of 167p to a mere 23.75p now in a dire market for gold, has completed initial earthworks over 80,000 cubic metres there and is poised to make the site ready for mining to begin, which will involve the first drawdown from the chief $75 million facility provided by Taurus under an agreement struck last year.
US-focused open-cast anthracite coal producer Atlantic Coal (ATC) is ‘actively looking for further high-quality and economically viable anthracite properties’ after turning a $272,000 (£175,000) loss into $3.7 million (£2.4 million) pre-tax profits in the six months to June. That is the word from chairman Adam Wilson, former head of entrepreneurial City stockbroker Hichens Harrison, following a near-40% increase in volume sales from the AIM-quoted company’s Stockton mine in Pennsylvania to 106,000 tons (not metric) in the first half year.
Underground coal gasification (UCG) and North Sea gas play Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR) has called for drastic changes in the planning regime for UCG projects and in the tax treatment of exploration for resources in the UK North Sea. The AIM-quoted company, with licences in Scotland, north-west England and Wales, wants to establish a pilot UCG plant at Kincardine in the the Firth of Forth and is seeking partners to drill two appraisal gas wells in licences in the north-western Lytham Field ‘at no cost to ourselves’, having reduced interim losses nearly 8% to £745,000.
Tesla Motors, US maker of electric vehicles, has agreed to buy lithium hydroxide for its batteries from AIM-quoted Bacanora Minerals' (BCN) Sonora lithium project in northern Mexico. Financial and other details of this agreement, which is for an initial five years and renewable after that, remain for some reason shrouded in confidentiality, but Colin Orr-Ewing, Bacanora’s chairman, calls it ‘a vital and monumental step forward in commercialising the large lithium resources which the company holds.’
Iron ore is hardly flavour of the month in metal markets, China’s well-ventilated economic woes having sent the price down from nearly $192 (£138) a tonne in 2011 to a recent $44 before reaching $53.210c a tonne now. But AIM dog Sable Mining Africa (SBLM) is disposing of coal and other ‘non-core’ assets to concentrate on its West African Nimba iron ore project in south-east Guinea.
Shares in West Africa-focused Stellar Diamonds (STEL) may have lost nearly 98% of its AIM value since floating at 20p eight years ago. But chief executive Karl Smithson hopes to overcome market scepticism as the company moves to follow a positive new preliminary economic assessment of its flagship 1.45 million-carat Tongo kimberlite project in Sierra Leone with a full mining licence application.
Shares in long-unfavoured Oracle Coalfields (ORCP) have been winning some new friends in the wake of acceptance by government of Pakistan’s Sindh province of the company’s pricing petition for its 1.4 billion tonne brown coal (lignite) project in the province’s Thar desert. Shahrukh Khan, entrepreneurial Chief executive officer of AIM-quoted Oracle, argues this acceptance, which will still needs federal ratification if the Sindh government approves, amounts to a ‘green light’ for the projected first phase of the project, which envisages producing four million tonnes a year to feed a 600-megawatt power station for the electricity-hungry region, at an initial price for the lignite of $76.48c (£49) a tonne, subject to later annual review.
Sirius Minerals (SXX), the AIM-quoted company seeking to develop one of the world’s largest high-grade potash deposits in the North York Moors National Park, says it has reached agreement to expand a recently-signed take or pay supply agreement with a ‘major US agri-business’. This will see the company’s sales rise from an annual 500,000 tonnes of polyhalite for an initial five years to 1.5 million tonnes over seven years from its York Potash project.
Africa-focused gold and coal retreatment investment outfit Armadale Capital (ACP) is poised for the imminent completion of a definitive feasibility study on its flagship Mpokoto gold project in the mineral-rich Congolese province of Katanga. The AIM-quoted company, whose shares had fallen by so much it recently carried out a one-for-150 consolidation, raised £700,000 the other day at 3.5p to help take Mpokoto, where it owns 80%, into production in the first half of next year.
Vast Resources (VAST), the AIM-quoted mining hopeful with interests in Central Africa and Eastern Europe, has begun blasting at its 1.8 million-tonne Manaila polymetallic mine in Romania. The company, formerly African Consolidated Resources, will seek to take production there towards 10,000 tonnes of ore per month, having passed what chief executive Roy Pitchford hails as ‘a landmark day in the life of Vast’. Having trebled since early this year to a share price of 1.53p, Vast’s shares put a value of £18.3 million on the company, but how much upside is there from here?
Entrepreneurial mining investment minnow Metal Tiger (MTR) is drawing comfort from one of its investee companies, fellow AIM counter Kibo Mining, which has reported an upbeat pre-feasibility study on its Mbeya coal-to-power project in the East African state of Tanzania. According to Kibo, the study suggests Mbeya could achieve annual revenues of $48 million (£30.8 million), with a profit margin of $24 to $27 million a year, and bring payback in between 2.6 to 3.65 years, for a capital outlay of between $38 and $73 million, according to which development route the company decides to take.
Tungsten, copper and gold play W Resources (WRES) claims to have discovered a high-grade open-pit prospect and a ‘significant’ north-west extension to its Regua project in northern Portugal. The unloved AIM company, whose shares have fallen from a 12-month high of 0.83p to a share price of 0.27p now in a dismal tungsten market, cites drilling results for north-easterly holes including 3.07metres with 0.56% WO3 tungsten trioxide and 2.2 metres with 0.36% WO3, as well as encouraging indications from the centre of the project’s orebody showing 4.3 metres with 0.836% WO3 and 6.74 metres with 0-75% WP3.
Scottish gold and silver play Scotgold Resources (SGZ) has welcomed a bankable feasibility report suggesting its flagship Cononish project in the Loch Lomond National Park could have a net present value of £23 million, with a potential internal rate of return of 45%. The company, whose chairman since March and 40% shareholder is Nat le Roux, onetime boss of financial derivatives and spread betting giant IG Group, believes the report, by Bara Consulting, ‘provides a very solid base for our ongoing discussions with potential project finance providers,’ according to chief executive Richard Gray, a former operations chief at Avocet Mining.
Depressed gold at $1,092.45c (£700) an ounce and copper at below $2.40c a lb have yet to attract hordes of bargain hunters or contrarians, but AIM-quoted Xtract Resources (XTR) is keeping up the momentum in its quest to develop gold and copper opportunities across the globe. Chaired by entrepreneurial veteran Colin Bird, of Jubilee Platinum (JLP) and Tiger Resources, and steered by chief executive officer Jan Nelson, ex-boss of Pan African Resources, the company is characteristically trumpeting the discovery of a second high-grade reef system, ‘Reef System B’, at its Chepica gold and copper mine in Chile.
Out-of-favour Herencia Resources (HER) has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with local Chilean mining group Erazzuriz to combine two copper projects in the north of the South American country. The proposals envisage creating a new company to process ore from Erazzuriz’s two underground mines at Tambillos in the same area and from Herencia’s proposed open-pit operation at nearby Picachos, which holds an estimated 10.7 million tonnes with 0.61% copper and silver at a modest 5.6 grammes per tonne, measured and indicated.
Production and sales from Gem Diamonds (GEMD)’s flagship Letseng mine in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho declined in the first half of the year, as the fully-listed company had to contend with tough conditions in the rough diamond market and a 19-day shutdown during the first three months on the completion of the initial phase of a plant upgrade. In its latest trading update, London-based Gem, whose shares once traded above £11 but have now fallen from a 221.25p 12-month high to 128.75p, says sales from 70%-owned Letseng fell 18% to $106.3 million (£68 million) in the six months to June.
A recent 6% bounce in iron ore prices at the Chinese port of Tianjin to $53.3 a tonne may or may not prove to be the harbinger of a significant rally in the metal’s depressed price after falling from $110 a tonne last summer to a recent low of $44.10c. But it might bring some comfort to bombed-out Sable Mining Africa (SBLM), which has announced sine encouraging metallurgical test results from its key Nimba iron ore project in the West African state of Guinea.
Other commodities may be plunging and testing six-year lows. But lithium, in demand for storage batteries, mobile devices, electric vehicles and ‘smart electricity grids, is proving a notable exception so far, with prices paid by key Chinese users this year ranging from $5,000 (£3,205) to $6,500 a tonne, up from $3,000 at the turn of the century. That is why entrepreneurial Bacanora Minerals (BCN), backed by controversial David ‘Gatwick Gusher’ Lenigas’s Rare Earth Minerals (REM), is setting up a starter operation at its Sonora project in North East Mexico.
Institutionally unloved copper and molybdenum developer Metminco (MNC) is talking to potential backers and would-be partners about raising at least $10 million (£6.6 million) towards funding pre-feasibility and feasibility studies on its flagship Los Calatos copper and molybdenum project in southern Peru, holding an estimated mineable resource of 94 million tonnes with 0.88% copper and 0.05% molybdenum.
Coloured gemstone producer and marketer Gemfields (GEM) says a maiden formal resource estimate of 467 million carats of rubies and corundum for its Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique provides ‘further evidence of the continued growth momentum and opportunities within the coloured gemstone sector.’ The AIM-quoted company says ubiquitous consultant SRK’s ‘competent person’s report’ suggested an average grade of 62.3 carats per tonne of rock for the resource, estimated to the mining industry’s Joint Ore Reserve Committee standard, and indicated a probable reserve of 452 million carats with 15.7 carats a tonne.
Copper may have been testing six-year lows of late, with prices down from $4.5 (£2.9) a lb. in 2011 to around $2.42a lb. now, but south-west Africa-focused Weatherly International (WTI) continues to trumpet its dramatic ramp-up of coper production at Tschudi in Namibia. The AIM-quoted company, whose shares have crumbled from their 8p float price 15 years ago to 1.08p now, against a 12-month high of 3.88p, says the fourth quarter of its financial year to last month, Tschudi’s first full three months of operation, saw production of 2,257 tonnes of London Metal Exchange-grade copper cathode, 50% of the project’s design capacity and comments it has set a monthly target of 1,400 tonnes, 100% of design capacity, by December.
Bombed-out former gold mining star Petropavlovsk (POG) is cutting costs at its mines in Far East Russia’s Amur region and paying off debts as it maintains its drive to cut costs, boost efficiency and curb expenditure. The fully-listed company, whose shares collapsed from more than £13 five years ago to 2.17p within the past 12 months before bouncing to 6.57p now, says half-year figures will show it is on track to cut its average cash costs, before financing, from $700 (£450) an ounce to $600, against a current depressed $1,093.48c market price.
As Canadian copper and gold miner Rambler Metals & Mining (RMM) returns to profits at its Ming mine holding an estimated potential of 1.1 billion lbs. of copper and 365,000 oz. of gold on the Atlantic seaboard, chief executive officer Norman Williams says he is ‘pretty confident’ talks now under way about financing a significant increase in production and grades there will be successful. The company, which is listed on AIM and the Toronto Venture Exchange, wants to secure up to C$25 million (£12.5 million) in the wake of a pre-feasibility engineering study and economic assessment of how to blend ore from Ming’s key lower footwall zone hoist the daily quantity of ore from the mine, on the Baie Verte peninsula straddling Newfoundland and Labrador from 650 tonnes to 1,250 tonnes by 2018.
Out-of-favour tungsten hopeful W Resources (WRES) says the authorities in south-west Spain’s Extremadura region have granted environmental approval sooner than expected for a fast track mine within the company’s La Parrilla project. Chairman Michael Masterman says W Resources now hopes to receive full development approval in September, which, he suggests, ‘will be the next key step paving the way for first mine production in 2016.’
AIM dog Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ) says it is on track to meet its target of lifting gold production from its Gedabek gold, copper and silver mine in the central Asian republic of Azerbaijan from 60,285 oz. in 2014 to between 70,000 and 75,000 oz. this year after achieving record output of 35,938 oz. in the first six months. The company, steered by chief executive officer and 29.9% shareholder Reza Vaziri, a former foreign office chief under the Shah of Iran, increased copper output at Gedabek 12.3 % in the first half year to 418 tonnes and plans to grow the copper side significantly with the installation of a new flotation plant, which it expects to be up and running by the end of September at a direct cost of $2.5 million (£1.6 million), plus $1 million or more of ancillary expenses.
Kurt Budge, chief executive officer of unloved Beowulf Mining (BEM), says the company will seek ‘strategic partners to monetise’ its 113 million-tonne Kallak North iron ore project in northern Sweden, if, as he now hopes, the Stockholm government grants it a 25-year exploitation licence by the end of this year. AIM-quoted Beowulf, which has newly raised £650,000 at a lowly 1.25p and has seen its shares crumble from 30p five years ago to 1.35p now, draws comfort from a change of heart by the County Administrative Board (CAB) for the local Norbotten County from opposition last October to qualified support today.
As foreshadowed here last month, geographically diverse Vast Resources (VAST) is adding further to its Romanian interests with an agreement to buy control of the Manaila polymetallic mine in the north of the country. The company, whose Pickstone Peerless gold mine in Zimbabwe is set to restart production next month, is paying a nominal E1 (72p) for 50.1% of Manaila, which holds an estimated 1.8 million tonnes with 1.17% copper, 1.86% zinc and 0.95% zinc according to Russian measurement standards, as well as some low-grade gold and silver, and assuming the debts of its present owner, Simaron Mining.
Seasoned mining entrepreneur Patrick Cheetham, executive chairman of unloved diversified mineral explorer Sunrise Resources (SRES), says he expects a US federal drilling permit for the company’s Bay State silver project in Nevada within two weeks. This comes a month after underground soil sampling unearthed ‘bonanza’ grades there, including 61 cm. showing an average 1,123 grammes or 33 oz. of silver per tonne of ore, with some grades up to 4,020 grammes a tonne.
As foreshadowed here last month, imposingly-named Galantas Gold Corporation (GAL) is assembling finance for its Cavancaw underground gold project near Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and has raised an equity component through a C$2.4 million (£1.2 million) placing of ‘units’ at the equivalent of 6p, 80% of them taken up by celebrated Canadian mining tycoon Ross Beaty. The AIM-quoted company, steered by entrepreneurial chief executive officer and 25% shareholder Roland Phelps, has issued shares equivalent to a 14.9% stake to Beaty, chairman of Pan American Silver and Altera Power Corporation and prime mover in several other resource ventures, to help fund underground mining at Cavancaw.
Nick Warrell, chief executive officer of West Africa-focused Sula Iron & Gold (SULA), declares the company ‘looks forward to the remainder of 2015 with optimism’, after losses up 30% to £890,000 in the six months to March, amid encouraging exploration indications for coltan (tantalite), as it awaits gold trenching results from its Ferensola project in Sierra Leone. Sula, which floated on AIM three years ago at 6p and lost a reduced £1.4 million in the year to last September, has seen its shares wither to 1.5p, between a 12-month high of 2.9p and a 0.8p low, amid gloomy iron ore and gold markets, but Warrell, a former Welsh gold mine owner and an honorary Paramount Chief of the local Dinga tribe, insists ‘the company remains on track.’
A recovery in copper and nickel prices could find AIM-quoted FinnAust Mining (FAM) well placed, as the tightly-held company studies data recently gleaned from its Outokumpu and Hammaslahti projects in Finland. FinnAust, which was floated on AIM two years ago by Aussie-quoted nickel miner Western Areas and is believed by analysts to have held informal talks with a major regional mining concern, hopes to have geophysical survey results identifying possible drilling targets from Outokumpu by the end of August.
Gem hopeful Paragon Diamonds (PRG) says it expects to start production this year from its Lemphane and Mothae mines in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho, generating anticipated combined revenues of $36 million (£22.1 million) in their first full year of operation. As the Guernsey-based company awaits formal approval from Lesotho’s Ministry of Mines for its purchase of 75% of Mothae, chairman Philip Manduca has declared he thinks the shares, floated at 10p in 2010 by acerbic entrepreneur Francesco Scolaro, ought to be trading in double figures, rather than their present 5.5p.
West Africa-focused AIM dog Goldstone Resources (GRL) is waiting for imminent infill auger probing results from Homase in Ghana before it drills to expand the gold prospect’s near-surface oxide resources from 100,000 oz. to towards a hoped-for 250,000 oz. in line with the strategy adopted by 33.4% shareholder and fellow AIM counter Stratex International (STI). Goldstone, whose shares at 2.62p (following a one-for-10 consolidation last autumn) have plunged 99% since their 2004 float, is hoping to add significantly to Homase’s present resource of 602,000 oz. at a low grade of 1.77 grammes of gold per tonne of ore, as it seeks joint venture partners to participate in -- and fund -- its other projects in Senegal and Gabon.
South America-focused gold producer Orosur Mining (OMI) has received the first $850,000 (£566,000) funding tranche from Chilean investment bank Asset Chile in a three-stage $3.5 million earn-in package to explore and develop the Anillo gold prospect in northern Chile. Based in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo and quoted on AIM and in Toronto, Orosur whose shares have fallen from a 17.25p 12-month high to 9.13p now, sees Anillo as a potential ‘company maker’, though ‘high-risk’, says chief executive officer Ignacio Salazar, partly because of its proximity and likely similarity to Canadian group Yamana Gold’s El Penon mine in the same area, which holds an estimated 2.7 million oz. of gold and 48 million oz. of silver.
Dan Betts, chief executive officer of West African gold play Hummingbird Resources (HUM) shrugs off both the lacklustre recent performance of the precious yellow metal and his company’s own distinctly less than stellar showing on AIM. He focuses instead on an enhanced production outlook for its 1.8 million-oz. Yanfolila project in Mali, as well as longer-term possibilities for its 4.2 million oz. lower-grade project at Dugbe in Liberia.
Shares in hitherto unloved Savannah Resources (SAV) have bounced strongly now that the AIM-quoted minnow has clinched a mineral sands joint venture with mining giant Rio Tinto in Mozambique. If all goes well, David Archer, Savannah’s chief executive officer, suggests the combined project could eventually be producing ilmenite at the rate of more than 600,000 tonnes a year for a decade at least.
With Europe’s biggest coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife set to close next year, diversified underground coal gasification (UCG) play Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR) sounds optimistic as it prepares the planning application for its flagship Kincardine UCG project in the Firth of Forth. Steered by veteran resources entrepreneur and former owner of the Spectator magazine Algy Cluff, the company, whose AIM-quoted shares have slipped from a 5p 12-month high to 3.88p, has submitted what finance director Graham Swindells calls ‘a solution to the Longannet closure’ to the Edinburgh government, which could be faced with a 40% cut in Scotland’s power supply as a result of the shut-down.
Having raised £2.9 million at a lowly 0.8p for its 1.6 million-oz. Tulu Kapi gold project in Ethiopia, hitherto-unloved KEFI Minerals (KEFI) is talking to a ‘short list’ of potential lenders about providing most of the reduced $120 million (£76 million) which Australian executive chairman Harry Anagnostaras-Adams reckons will be needed to take it into production in early 2017, if all goes well.
Long-term AIM dog Conroy Gold and Natural Resources (CGNR) says it has discovered an ‘extensive’ gold anomaly’ of 700 by 300 metres in soil sampling at Rockcorry in Co. Monaghan some 14 km. from the company’s existing Clontibret gold and antimony project. The Dublin-based company, whose shares have evaporated from 2005’s AIM float price of 25p to 0.8p now, says four samples showed more than 20 parts of gold per billion of soil and five samples showed more than 10 parts per billion.
Waiting for more drilling results from recent acquisitions and looking for fresh deals, US-focused Nostra Terra Oil and Gas (NTOG) is ‘now able to go for some bigger opportunities,’ declares chief executive officer Matt Lofgran, as the company digests last month’s agreement to obtain 1% of the 35,000-acre San Miguel property in South Texas. He says Nostra Terra, which doubled production last year to 35,380 barrels of oil equivalent, hopes to benefit from the depressed state of the oil market by picking up more hoped-for bargains, after securing the White Buffalo prospect in Wyoming and acquiring two properties on the sought-after 870 million-acre Eagle Ford oil shale trend in South Texas.
Iron ore hopeful Beowulf Mining (BEM) is trumpeting ‘outstanding’ sample test work results from its Kallak North project in northern Sweden, which the company says would enable it to offer ‘super high-grade’ magnetite concentrate at hefty price premiums to eventual customers. Having fallen from a 12-month high of 4.53p to a1.15p low, the shares have rallied to 2.07p -- still a fraction of levels seen 10 years ago -- helped by samples showing magnetite with an iron content of more than 71% with only low levels of silica, alumina, sulphur, phosphate and other ‘deleterious’ materials.
Junior resources investment outfit Metal Tiger (MTR) is savouring encouraging drilling and assay results from its Logosan tungsten and gold joint venture in Extremadura, western Spain, as exploration starts across the globe in East Africa at the company’s Morogoro gold joint venture in Tanzania. AIM-quoted Metal Tiger, whose chairman is geologist and Aussie mining sector player Terry Grammer, says the work at Logosan, with 47 holes drilled and assays for 26 of them so far, indicates ‘significant tungsten mineralisation’ over a 410-metre strike length, citing one hole showing 0.32% W03 tungsten trioxide over eight metres and 0.49% W03 over two metres and another showing 0.63% W03 over two metres.
Expansive and newly popular Xtract Resources (XTR) is poised to make another acquisition, this time of an as yet unnamed South African gold producer capable of delivering 60,000 oz. to 100,000 oz. a year, according to chief executive officer Jan Nelson. Shares in Xtract, highlighted here in April at 0.25p, have bounced from a barely-visible 12-month low of 0.07p to 0.41p, as the company has increased potential resources in and around its three-year Chepica copper and gold project in Chile, and Nelson, ex-boss of Pan African Resources, declares the proposed acquisition, which would involve issuing shares, could ‘seriously transform’ the IM-quoted company’, now valued at £26.25 million.
Shares in longstanding AIM loser Armadale Capital (ACP) have bounced following its heads of agreement with Belgian-owned Congolese group Africa Mining Contracting Services. This ‘introduces’ $20 million (£13 million) of debt to take Armadale’s Mpokoto gold and copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga province into production next year. Floated nine years ago at 10p as mine drainage specialist Watermark Global, the company has lately seen its shares treble from a bombed-out 0.2p to 0.6p, twice the price of its £270,000 fund raising in March, on the hope that Mpokoto can start producing gold from the first half of 2016 at an annual rate of 25,000 oz. at an ‘all-in’ cost of $720 an ounce, against a present lacklustre gold price of $1,174.80c.
David Bramhill, entrepreneurial executive chairman of Union Jack Oil (UJO), has been sounding characteristically bullish about tests at the Wressle 1 oil and gas discovery in North Lincolnshire, where the AIM -quoted company holds an 8.33% stake. Fellow AIM counter Egdon Resources (EDR), with a 25% interest, has estimated a potential resource of more than two million barrels at Wressle, in the Crosby Warren field, and recently indicated three separate reservoirs had shown oil and gas, with an oil column below the gas zone, and extended tests are now under way.
David Reading, chief executive officer of West Africa focused gold play Aureus Mining (AUE), is celebrating the first gold pour from its flagship New Liberty project in Liberia not only with the receipt of narrowly in-the-money share options but by charting a production ramp up which he hopes will take production from an initial 50,000 to 60,000 oz. this year to a targeted 112,000 oz. in 2016. According to Reading, likely capital spending is ‘on track for $172 million (£115.2 million)’, while ‘recent estimates suggested cash costs could be just under $800 an ounce,’ against a present gold price of $1,192.75c an ounce.
Shares in long-term AIM dog Ariana Resources (AAU) have bounced strongly now that the company has finally received formal approval from the Turkish government to proceed with its flagship Red Rabbit gold and silver project, holding a currently estimated 475,000 oz. of gold equivalent in the west of the country. Though still 90% below their 2005 float price of 12p, Ariana shares at 1.19p are more than 50% up from a 0.75p 12-month low, following the formal approval by the Prime Minister’s office in Ankara of a crucial forestry permit for the project.
EMED Mining (EMED) hopes to produce the first concentrate from its re-launched 203 million-tonne Rio Tinto copper project in Spain during July or August, having raised £64.9 million with a financing package that brings in a substantial new shareholder in the shape of Boston-based Liberty Metals and Mining, part of US insurance giant Liberty Mutual. That is the word from chief executive officer Alberto Lavandeira, who says the project should move into commercial production later on.
A bullish resource update from Bacanora Minerals (BCN) for its Sonora lithium project in Mexico has comforted fans who have fuelled the shares’ AIM rally from below 40p in late November to 88p now. Chaired by veteran sector player Colin Orr-Ewing and backed by equally entrepreneurial fellow AIM counter Rare Earth Minerals (REM) and its colourful Australian boss David ‘Gatwick Gusher’ Lenigas, the company says ubiquitous consultant SRK carried out the report on Sonora, identifying an indicated resource estimate of 1.2 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) with an average 2,200 parts of LCE per million parts of rock plus a more tentative inferred resource estimate of 6.3 million tonnes with 2,300 parts per million.
Mariana Resources (MARL) has today announced that it has raised £1.8 million at 1.6p. Its CEO Glenn Parsons is a prize shit and this company now goes on the ShareProphets bargepole list – this is war. Let me explain why the Sheriff of AIM is now on the warpath.
Robert Tyerman vs Lucian Miers: the Sirius debate. I explain on whose side I am on. In this podcast I also cover Webis which I forgot to mention earlier. Notwithstanding the fact that my old friend Jim Mellon is a major shareholder I have a few words to say. The meat of this podcast is the disgrace that is Directors talk. This website should be exposed and boycotted and I explain why. The Ben Turney piece i refer to in this section is HERE
Coal gasification play Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR) is preparing to drill a demonstration hole in the Firth of Forth or at another site after adding three new licences to its previous portfolio of five projects, offshore and inshore, in England, Scotland and Wales. Serial resources entrepreneur Algy Cluff, chairman and chief executive of the AIM-quoted venture, says the precise choice of site will depend on the speed of obtaining planning permission and stresses ‘we want to add value before dealing with potential partners.’
An ebullient-sounding Ed Slowey, Chief Executive Officer of unloved AIM company Orogen Gold (ORE), says he will be bombarding investors in the coming weeks with further drilling results from the Mutsk project in southern Armenia, after announcing intercepts of up to 60 metres with 1.21 grams of gold per tonne of ore, including 20 metres with 3.11 grams a tonne. Orogen obtained these results, hailed by Slowey as ‘very significant’, by step-out drilling at Mutsk, which is 30 km away from the Amulsar gold project, where Toronto-listed Lydian International claims a four million-oz. gold deposit with one gram a tonne, of which 2.3 million oz. with 0.75 grams a tonne ‘proven and probable’.
Antinomy, a versatile metal used in fire retardant materials, microelectronics, batteries and bullets, may not be looking too glamourous these days. It has fallen from one-time peaks of around $17,000 (£10,200) a tonne to below $10,000, but Emin Eyi, managing director of AIM-quoted TriStar Resources (TSTR) insists its hour will come. Tri-Star, with antimony deposits in Turkey and Canada, similarly has few outside fans in the stock market just now, having lost £534,000 (or £1.2 million at the operating level) in the first half of the year and seen its shares plunge from 2003’s float price of 27.75p to a barely visible 0.16p.
Philip Manduca, hedge fund pioneer and newly established executive chairman of AIM dog Paragon Diamonds (PRG), is trumpeting big ambitions for the company and its Lemphane kimberlite pipe in the gem-rich southern African kingdom of Lesotho. His strategy includes moving to production at Lemphane, where Paragon owns 80 per cent and suspects it holds a minimum of one million carats, as soon as possible, perhaps before next March, and vertically integrating the company by taking significant stakes in cutting, polishing and retailing stones.
Loss-making, debt-ridden, with production falling and assets in areas close to the Ebola epidemic, bombed-out West Africa-focused gold play Avocet Mining (AVM) has taken an urgent step to retrieve matters, by commissioning a $7 million (£4.25 million) carbon blinding circuit. Chief Executive Officer David Cather argues this should increase monthly gold production from the AIM-quoted company’s flagship five million-oz.-resource Inata gold mine in Burkina Faso from between 7,000 oz. and 8,000 oz. to 10,000 oz. and increase recoveries from toxic ores from 40 per cent to near 75 per cent.
Bombed-out Coal of Africa (CZA) is turning the corner in its struggle to eliminate past losses and surmount a raft of problems. The company could soon start creating value for patient shareholders from its two billion tonnes of coal in South Africa’s Limpopo province.
Nordic nickel, copper and zinc explorer FinnAust Mining (FAM) wants to secure a second drilling rig to accelerate its exploration programme in Finland, where it is probing three historically-mined high--grade deposits in which it has controlling stakes. This is in the wake of finding encouraging mineralisation at one of its project, Hammaslahti, in the south of the country. London-based FinnAust, whose losses rose from £401,000 to £2.4 million in the year to June following a £1.2 million asset impairment charge for past unsuccessful drilling and £1.2 million of administrative expenses, ended its financial year with £1.5 million cash and can fund its exploration programme, says executive director Alastair Clayton.
Noricum Gold (NMG), the AIM-quoted Austrian gold hopeful, had accompanied news of a £315,000 loss for the six months to June with confirmation that it has decided to ‘prioritise’ its ‘near-term operational and financial resources’ on drilling at its Schonberg project in the country’s south-central region. This represents a significant change in direction for the company, which had previously indicated it hoped to produce a formal JORC (Joint Ore Review Committee)-standard resource estimate during the first half of this year for its flagship Rotgulden precious metals project some 100 km. away.
Establishing ‘an exciting new gold province’ in the Austrian provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia is the declared goal of AIM-quoted Noricum Gold (NMG). The company has won approval from the authorities for a 3,000-metre drilling campaign at Schonberg, one of its key projects in the south and west of the country. Based in the British Virgin Islands and currently out of favour with investors, the company has also applied for permission to drill an additional 2,000 metres at Schonberg, where recent rock chip sampling showed gold mineralisation of up to 3.82 parts per million, with 0.8 per cent copper.
One western entrepreneur for whom there are compensations in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forward policy in Ukraine is Robin Young, chief executive officer of AIM-quoted nickel play Amur Minerals (AMC). His company is expected shortly to produce significantly increased reserve figures for its Kun Manie project in Far East Russia, near the Chinese border. Political uncertainties and investors’ impatience have contributed to the fall in Amur’s shares. At 2.98p these are well off their 12-month high of 8.5p and a mortifying 90 per cent down from their 2006 float price of 33p, but the fall in the Russian rouble prompted by the Ukraine crisis has at least cut the estimated cost of securing a long-awaited production licence from $818,000 (£481,000) to $655,000.
South American gold play Orosur Mining (OMI) is on the look-out for yet more assets after turning a $14.8 million (£8.7 million) loss into net profits of $5.1 million in the year to May. It subsequently acquired Toronto-listed Colombia-focused Waymar Resources, with gross assets of $14.75 million, in a share deal giving Waymar shareholders nearly 20 per cent of the enlarged company. Orosur is based in the Chilean capital of Santiago and quoted on AIM and Toronto. The company achieved this turnaround largely thanks to a plunge in asset impairments from $14 million to $557,000 and a fall in exploration expenses and write-offs from $4.3 million to $245,000.
Masoud Alikhani, veteran chairman of Berkeley Mineral Resources (BMR), is celebrating the belated approval by environmental authorities in Zambia for its $18.7 million (£11 million) lead, zinc and copper tailings project at Kabwe in the heart of the central African country’s mining district. According to the AIM-quoted company, first tailings production could start ‘within days’ following written approval from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), which also triggers the second half of a £1 million equity financing of Berkeley at a lowly 1.4p a share through Park Lane stockbroker Novum Securities.
Dan Betts, enthusiastic chief executive officer of West Africa-focused gold hopeful Hummingbird Resources (HUM), has lost no time in clinching a $75 million (£44.1 million) refinancing package for the Yanfolila gold project in Mali. Hummingbird acquired Yanfolila last month from South African mining heavyweight Gold Fields. Based in London and quoted on AIM, Hummingbird has obtained the funding from Australian-backed private equity group Taurus Mining Finance, along with a $10 million bridging facility for initial payments, design and engineering at Yanfolila, which boasts a gold resource of 1.8 million oz. with an average 2.8grams of gold per tonne of ore.
Ed Marlow, the former African investment chief at the HSBC banking group who now heads AIM-listed African Potash (AFPO), is waiting for first drilling results from the Guernsey-registered company’s Lac Dinga project in Republic of Congo, as he savours its success in obtaining $3.75 million (£2.2 million) funding for the project from US investment group Bergen Asset Management. Results from the first hole at Lac Dinga could come through in two weeks, he suggests, with data from the second hole hoped-for in September, ‘and then we’ll know how the nature of the deposit and how commercial it will be.’ Is this now a stock to consider?
Ian Harebottle, entrepreneurial chief executive officer of Africa-focused emerald and ruby supplier Gemfields (GEM), sounds characteristically optimistic after the company’s latest auction of ‘lower quality’ rough emeralds and beryls in the Zambian capital of Lusaka. The stock market’s initial reaction has been apathetic, with the shares off 0.13p to 46.5p, narrowly above their 2005p float price of 45p. Even so, the share price is down from a year’s high of 52.5p, after the company’s auction attracted revenues of $15.5 million (£9 million), the second highest in the series, so is the market missing a trick?
Platinum mining in South Africa has been a decidedly challenging business of late, with a prolonged miners’ strike rising costs and weak prices combining to sap confidence at many companies. One exception to the sombre tone is AIM-quoted Sylvania Platinum (SLP), whose Chief Executive Officer Terry McConnachie sounds in robust mood, as he suggests the company could receive an official mining right approval for its five to six million-oz. Volspruit open-cast platinum group metals (PGM) project in South Africa’s Bushveld region ‘within one to three weeks‘.
Many iron ore bosses are wringing their hands at its price halving in three and a half years. But Anton Mauve, managing director of Jim Mellon's Isle of Man-based West African Minerals Corporation (WAFM) is not one of them, even though these woes have sent the AIM-quoted iron ore explorer’s shares down from 32.75p to 5.88p over the past year, for a stock market value of £22.1 million. Following encouraging exploration results at West African’s properties in Cameroon and Sierra Leone, Mauve, a former head of Lonmin Platinum, declares ‘the gloom makes us happy’. But why?
After two years of losses, Canadian miner Kirkland Lake Gold (KGI) is poised to start making money again from its high-grade Macassa and South Mine complex, holding potentially three million ounces or more of the yellow metal in Western Ontario’s south Abitibi greenstone belt. The company, quoted on AIM and in Toronto, lost a quadrupled £8.5 million on a reduced £94 million turnover in the year to April, but expects the first quarter of the current year to show dramatic improvements in costs, grades and production. The company’s turnaround strategy, initiated in January by incoming chief executive officer George Ogilvie, looks like it is beginning to bear fruit.
As boss of an AIM mine exploration company which has lost 97 per cent of its stock market value since floating 10 years ago, Jurie Wessels, chief executive of South Africa-based Goldstone Resources (GRL) is determinedly upbeat about its proposed new deal with fellow AIM company Stratex International (STI). Stratex, which has gold interests not far from Goldstone’s projects in West Africa, has agreed to pay £1.25 million for 33.4 per cent of Goldstone at a discounted 6p (after a tenfold share consolidation) -- provided the City Takeover Panel agrees to waive what would otherwise be its obligation to bid for the entire company.
Mike Houston, boss of Guernsey-based Shanta Gold (SHG), is preparing for a busy autumn as the AIM-quoted company works to lift annual gold production at its Tanzanian gold project from a forecast 80,000 oz. this year to 100,000 oz. in two years time. Shanta, which produced 63,000 oz. in 2013 and lost a much-reduced £2.6 million on £40 million turnover, is expecting two feasibility studies in September or October on its currently producing New Luika mine in south-west Tanzania’s Lupa goldfield and its Singida project in the centre of this East African country. But how might the market react to this potentially positive newsflow?
Fresh from clinching the all-paper takeover of fellow South American gold play, Toronto Venture Exchange-listed Waymar Resources, AIM-quoted Orosur Mining (OMI) is still looking to expand further by acquiring ‘short-term production assets’. So says Ignacio Salazar, chief executive officer of Orosur, which produced an above-forecast 60,271/oz of gold in the year to May from its San Gregorio mine in Uruguay. The company hopes that Waymar’s exploration targets, notably Anza in Colombia, will provide promising additions to its own exploration and development projects at Anillo and Pantanillo in Chile.
Water, though vital for life, can present formidable problems in mining, as Central Rand Gold (CNRD) has recently found to its cost. However, chief executive Johan du Toit sounds confident the company is surmounting the threat posed by surging underground water levels to mining a gold resource of potentially more than 30 million oz. in South Africa’s Central Rand goldfields.
Algy Cluff, the veteran resources entrepreneur and former owner of the Spectator magazine, is on the look-out for deals to propel Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR) into the business of turning off-shore coal deposits into gas-producing assets in a way he and the company’s backers claim will be able to provide cheap and environmentally acceptable fuel supplies for years to come. Speculation has suggested potential partners could include German engineering and electronics giant Siemens or Swiss-based chemicals group Ineos, active at the Grangemouth oil refinery in the Firth of Forth, but AIM-quoted Cluff Natural remains tight-lipped.
Minority shareholders in Australian gold play Bullabulling Gold (BGL) have until 28 July to accept the £14.5 million cash takeover bid from Chinese-owned Norton Gold Fields, which has now emerged with 55.92 per cent of the AIM and Down Under-quoted company’s shares. Managing director Brett Lambert is leaving the Bullabulling board, which will now have as two new non-executives Dr. Dianmin Chen, Norton’s managing director, and Dr. Noel White, a non-executive director of Norton.
Kalaa Mpinga, the Congolese founder and chief executive officer of AIM-quoted Mwana Africa (MWA), says the company will consider starting to pay dividends this time next year, following a turnaround in the year to March from annual losses of $32 million (£19 million) to $44 million profits. This figure was swollen by a $27 million past impairment loss write-back and turnover 30.5 per cent ahead to $142.5 million. Mwana, which is involved in nickel, gold, diamonds and copper and is primarily focused on Zimbabwe though also with interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa, has scored from a full year’s resumption of production and sales from Zimbabwe’s Trojan nickel mine. This happened to coincide with major producer Indonesia’s price-boosting export ban on the metal.
West African gold play Hummingbird Resources (HUM) is celebrating the conclusion of a transformational $20 million (£11.75 million) all-share acquisition which, says founder and chief executive Dan Betts, will set the AIM-quoted company on the road to becoming a 200,000 oz.-a-year gold producer. With estimated gold resources of six million oz. Hummingbird, which lost £2.2 million in the year to May 2013, ‘will be profitable in 18 months,’ declares Betts, as he extols the merits of securing South African mining colossus Gold Fields’ assets in Mali for shares giving Gold Fields a 26.3 per cent stake in the company.
Swimming against the tide could pay off for West Africa-focused Aureus Mining (AUE), as it prepares to take its one million oz.-plus New Liberty gold project in Liberia’s Bea Mountain area into production early next year. It will also test likely prospects elsewhere in the country, such as nearby Ndablama, which chief executive officer David Reading hints could be in the same league. The AIM-quoted company claims New Liberty will be virtually the only new mine to open in West Africa at that time and should be able to produce 100,000 oz. of gold in its first year, rising to an annual 120,000oz. for at least six years, with foreshadowed all-in cash costs of $850/oz, against a current price of $1,315.80/oz.
Indonesia, one of the largest economies in south-east Asia, is rich in minerals and the most populous Muslim country in the world. It has not proved a happy hunting ground for foreign investors of late, as the travails of Bumi (now Asia Resource Minerals) and Churchill Mining can attest. Kalimantan Gold (KRG), floated eight years ago on AIM to tap copper, gold and silver prospects in Kalimantan (Indonesia’s half of the island of Borneo), might appear to be another example, but it is hoping to repair the damage caused by recent setbacks.
Dr. Kerim Sener, the mild-spoken geologist who runs Turkish gold hopeful Ariana Resources (AAU), is a patient man -- and the performance of his company’s shares since its AIM float in 2005 has tried the patience of many of its investors. He is now celebrating the award by the Ankara government of a range of fiscal incentives, estimated by Ariana to be worth more than $2 million (£1.2 million), as the company heads towards the long-awaited start of production in 2015 at a targeted annual rate of 21,000 oz. a year at Kiziltepe, a key part of its Red Rabbit gold and silver project in western Turkey.
Mark Child, the former corporate financier who steers Central America-focused AIM company Condor Gold (CNR), draws encouragement from latest trenching results at the company’s La India mine re-launch project in the east of Nicaragua. He and his fellow directors now await the completion of a pre-feasibility study, expected in September. Condor, where Child and the Hong Kong-based Regent Pacific mining group hold around 10 per cent each, says a preliminary economic assessment last year suggested La India, an epithermal gold deposit from which US miner Noranda produced up to 40,000 oz. a year until 1956, still held 2.33 million oz. This is with an average 3.8grams of gold per tonne of ore, of which the firmer ‘indicated’ category was 1.1 million oz. with 3grams a tonne. Child argues the trenching has confirmed previous work done by the Americans and high-grade artisanal miners’ workings.
Roy Pitchford, veteran of the central African mining scene, is relishing the challenge that awaits him on 4 July, when shareholders in Zimbabwe-focused African Consolidated Resources (AFCR) will vote on proposals to raise $18 million (£10.6 million) to accelerate the country’s Pickstone Peerless 3.5 million-oz. gold project in Mashonaland. ‘This will be a company maker’, insists Pitchford, Afcon’s chief executive officer only since May, who suggests the decision will hinge on 28.6 per cent shareholder, the Gulf emirate of Ras Al Kaimah (RAK) -- if RAK votes yes or abstains, all will be well.
Manoli Yannaghas, onetime debt recovery expert and former operations chief at the now-unloved Red Rock Resources (RRR), is celebrating his first year as managing director of graphite play Stratmin Global Resources (STGR). The company is on the cusp of the long-awaited move to commercial production in the south-east African island state of Madagascar. This could prove the catalyst for a positive move higher from this beleaguered stock.
Glen Parsons, the mining financier running Mariana Resources (MARL.), is a very busy man at the moment. He is currently relishing first drilling results from the Sydney-based company’s Soledad venture in central Peru. In southern Argentina, he has recently clinched a $2 million (£1.25 million) five-year option for 60 per cent of the Los Cisnes gold and silver project in the Santa Cruz Province. Finally, back in Peru, he awaits further drilling information in June from another Peruvian project, Condor de Oro. This really is an incredibly busy time for the company.
Within a month or so, AIM-quoted Armadale Capital (ACP) hopes to have completed its transformation from a company with interests in cleaning up mines in South Africa to one backing fully fledged gold mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere. Whether this brings about a rehabilitation of Armadale’s shares, which have lost 99 per cent of their value since floating as Watermark Global at 10p eight years ago, with a treatment for acidic water in the mines of South Africa’s Witwatersrand, depends on two projects which the company’s present management is pushing ahead.
Potash, the potassium-bearing material used to make fertiliser, may be arousing controversy in Yorkshire. Its price may also have slipped from $500 a tonne before the 2007 financial crash to nearer $325 today, thanks to the actions of Russian and other key cartel producers. However, AIM-quoted African Potash (AFPO), which the other day raised $1.7 million (£1.06 million) at a lowly 1.9p, will sign contracts imminently to start drilling at its Lac Dinga potash project in West Africa’s Republic of Congo; not the strife-torn Democratic Republic of Congo!
Some may question the prospects for copper. Concerns about a Chinese economic slowdown and potential oversupply in 2014 abound. However, these negatives compete with the lowest stock levels in London Metal Exchange warehouses since 2008 and cheerful City forecasts. Isaac Querub and Alberto Lavandeira, respectively newly installed chief executive officer and chief operating officer EMED Mining (EMED), entertain no doubts as they prepare to bring Spain’s historic Rio Tinto copper mine in Andalusia back into production towards the end of next year.