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Australian dollar gold price at all-time high – Mining Journal

Mining Journal 18th June

The gold price was on the rise today as geopolitical tensions remain an undercurrent and the market ponders the likelihood of a rate cut at this week’s US Federal Reserve meeting.

The Australian spot gold price rose to a fresh all-time high today and was worth A$1,962.60 an ounce at the time of writing.

The US dollar gold price was near a 14-month high at US$$1,341.89/oz, having been close to $1,360/oz on Friday.

Market futures were mixed after most key indices closed higher yesterday.

Gold miners were unsurprisingly gaining in afternoon Australian trade.

Western Australian producer Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX: SAR) was up more than 3% in late trade.

Newmont Goldcorp (NYSE: NEM) had closed up 0.8% in New York yesterday.

It had announced it was ramping up its Peñasquito mine in Mexico after an illegal blockade was lifted and a government-sponsored dialogue process established, with the company saying it was committed to a fair resolution of contract and water availability issues.

The gold-heavy Toronto metals and mining stocks closed about 1.3% higher yesterday.

Dual-listed Alacer Gold (TSX: ASR; ASX: AQG) gained 10.2% in Toronto to close at C$4.43 and is up almost 76% year-to-date.

It had declared commercial production at its Çöpler sulphide expansion project last week and a one-third increase in oxide gold production for 2019 at its flagship operation in Turkey.

Macquarie reinstated coverage of Alacer with a recommendation of outperform and a price target of $4.50, Bloomberg noted.

 

Iron ore hits new five-year high – Kallanish

June 12th via Kallanish

Seaborne iron ore prices broke another new high on Wednesday as they extended Tuesday’s surge a little further. Supply concerns have continued to spread and iron ore has now increased by $6.69/tonne in three days.

The Kallanish KORE 62% Fe index gained another $1.25/t to $104.94/dry metric ton cfr Qingdao, the highest level since 6 May 2014. On COREX, 170,000 tonnes of Brazilian Blend sold at $111.1/t with a laycan in 10-19 July, while 90,000t of Jimblebar sold at a floating price.

On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, September iron ore settled at CNY 769.5/t ($111.25/t), up another CNY 24.5/t, while on the Singapore Exchange July 62% Fe futures settled down $0.56/t at $102.29/t. In Tangshan, billet prices slipped CNY 10/t to CNY 3,500/t.

Iron ore port markets continue to be constrained by low arrivals. Continuing unconfirmed rumours that Rio Tinto would cancel some shipments of PB fines have added to the sense of tightness.

As if that was not enough, the Development and Reform Bureau of Zunhua in Hebei issued a notice that it would cut power to 86 beneficiation plants for 45 days starting this week. That will take out 600,000t of concentrate from the local market.

Gold Keeps Climbing – Mining Beacon

Mining Beacon April 17 2019

Recent research reports from S&P Global Market Intelligence highlight record gold production in 2018, and outline some of the reasons for the increased appetite for gold mergers and acquisitions.

Global gold production increased in 2018 for the 10th consecutive year to reach a total of 107.3 Moz, according to a recent report from S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI). As signaled in the recent HindeSight bog, although the year-over-year increase of just under 1% was the smallest in the past decade, output of the precious metal has now risen 40% since 2008.

SPGMI forecasts further growth, of 2.3 Moz, this year. If so, it will be the strongest growth of the past three years. As the report’s author, Chris Galbraith, wrote; it will debunk the commentary of “peak gold”.

Looking at the current project pipeline, and without large-scale moves in the gold price or any speculative estimates on additions through exploration activity, SPGMI expects gold output to stay steady until 2022 and decline thereafter. Indeed, more than 15% of gold production by 2024 will be coming from mines that are not yet producing.

More than half of this year’s increase is projected to come from mines that are expected to come on stream in 2019. Examples of those include the Gruyere JV in Western Australia (Gold Fields Ltd and Gold Road Resources Ltd), Meliadine in Nunavut (Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd), Sigma-Lamaque in Quebec (Eldorado Gold Corp.), and the restarted operations at Obuasi in Ghana (AngloGold Ashanti Ltd) and Aurizona in Brazil (Equinox Gold Corp.), both of which have been idle since 2015.

SPGMI notes that the ramp-up at PJSC Polyus’s Natalka operation and commissioning at Nord Gold SE’s Gross mine are significant contributors to a continued increase in Russia’s gold production. The country’s production is expected to equal Australia’s gold output in 2020, and then surpass it. In Canada, the startup of Meliadine and continued ramp-up of Rainy River, Eleonore and Hope Bay, among others, will drive amongst the fastest national growth over the next few years. This year, Canada is projected to pass the US in national gold production to become the fourth-largest gold producing country.

Although SPGMI expects global production to start declining after 2022, not all jurisdictions will have shrinking production. Of the 99 gold-producing countries monitored, 49 are expected to produce less in 2024 compared with 2018, 27 to produce more and 23 are expected to maintain production.

Australia’s production is expected to fall the most. The current second-largest gold producing nation, behind China, is expected to fall to fourth place globally by 2024. The underlying reason for Australia’s fall is the depletion of several long-lived assets, such as St Ives, Paddington, Telfer, Edna May, Southern Cross and Agnew/Lawlers. The expected commissioning of Mt Todd and reactivation of Union Reefs Operations Centre will only partly mitigate the loss from existing operations.

Although Indonesia’s gold production will be substantially lower in 2024 than it was last year, the country’s production in 2018 was anomalously high primarily due to the unusually large output at Grasberg. Peru’s production, however, is clearly trending downward, with Orcopampa, La Zanja and Tambomayo all facing depletion before 2024. With closure only a few years further out, SPGMI notes that Lagunas Norte and Yanacocha will also be producing far less gold in 2024 than they have historically.

Grades are Key

From 2014 through 2018, ore throughput at primary gold mines rose 1.2% but the weighted-average gold grade increased 4.5%. As a result, gold production from primary gold mines increased by 6% during the period.

The increase in grade is projected to continue through 2020 but in 2021 SPGMI expects ore throughput to remain steady and grade to fall by 2% year over year. These two factors are expected to account for around 1.6 Moz in reduced production. By 2024, around 241 Mt less ore is expected to be fed through gold mills compared with 2019, while the gold grade will be almost 2% higher overall. Owing to that drop in throughput, the related drop in production from primary gold mines will be almost 9 Moz.

SPGMI estimates that 11% of global gold production came from polymetallic base metal mines in 2018. Gold production from those mines will fall this year and in 2020 but the share from polymetallic mines is expected to increase gradually thereafter. With falling production from primary gold mines after 2020, and minor increases from polymetallic mines, a growing share of the world’s gold production will come from sources where gold is a byproduct. Less than 10% of the world’s production is expected to come from secondary sources in 2020, but this amount is expected to grow to more than 11% again by 2024.

Reason for Gold M&A

In a separate SPGMI article on April 3, Richard Foy commented that the market capitalisation of gold-mining companies has halved since 2012. This devaluation, and a recent push for consolidation, has increased M&A activity, with majors capitalising on the reduction in enterprise value (EV) in 2018.

Recent M&A deals have reflected this theme as companies look to unlock synergistic cost savings. This has seen gold production remain relatively constant among the top 30 listed gold-mining equities between 2014 and 2018, at about 43 Moz/y, with a 3% increase expected in 2019. The consensus earnings margin outlook of 30% for gold-mining equities is supported by SPGMI’s view on 2019 all-in sustaining cost margins at 33%.

In 2019, the ratio of the EV to EBITDA of the 30 largest gold miners is expected to go below 7.0 for the first time in six years, according to SPGMI. This is the result of a modest decline in EV (due to declining net debt offsetting a rise in market capitalisation) along with an expected increase in earnings. This drop in the ratio could explain the heightened M&A activity among the gold majors.

Andrew Hore Quoted Micro 17 June 2019

NEX EXCHANGE

Renewable energy supplier Good Energy (GOOD) says that holding back on operating expenditure has offset the downturn in demand due to warmer weather. Profit will be weighted to the first half. Good is investing in electric vehicle platform Zap-Map.

Brewer Daniel Thwaites (THW) reported a more than halved pre-tax profit from £9.8m to £4.5m. Turnover improved from £92.2m to £96.9m and the profit decline was mainly due to a non-cash swing from gain to loss on swaps and a pension adjustment. Operating profit was flat at £12.9m. The Inns business improved its profit and individual pubs are making a higher profit contribution, but hotels profit declined. The total dividend was maintained at 3.36p a share. Net debt was £69.7m at the end of March 2019, while NAV was £180.7m. The pension liability has fallen from £34.9m to £24.8m.

KR1 (KR1) has sold 70,079 tokens in the Cosmos Network for $361,000. The average cost of the tokens was $0.10 each and they were sold for $5.14 each. KR1 has also generate a further 7,008 tokens from staking activities and these were sold for $6.93 each.

There was a sharp rise in the share price of TechFinancials Inc (TECH) but much of this gain was lost by the end of the week. There does not appear to be a reason for the rise. Full year results should be published this week. There will be an operating loss. There was $1.1m in the bank at the end of May 2019. The company is still waiting for approval from the Seychelles authorities for the €100,000 disposal of MarketFinancials. There will be write-downs of the value of diamond trading blockchain developer CEDEX and MarketFinancials.

EPE Special Opportunities Ltd (ESO) had a NAV of 272.02p a share at the end of May 2019. The company intends to start buying back shares and these purchases could exceed 25% of the average daily volume of ordinary shares.

Shareholders have approved the plan of Oyster Oil and Gas to distribute the shares of its main subsidiary to settle indebtedness and certain creditors. These include Gunsynd (GUN) although the exact shareholding has yet to be announced. Production sharing contracts in Madagascar and Djibouti are owned by the subsidiary. Gunsynd has raised £500,000 at 0.037p a share.

Trading in Via Developments (VIA1) debentures has recommenced following the publication of figures for 18 months to September 2018. The company has net liabilities of £329,000 with long-term debt of £5.68m offset by cash of £91,000. A subsidiary is securing debt and equity for a project that will generate management fees fir Via, but that won’t happen until September.

Clean Invest Africa (CIA) is holding a general meeting on 3 July in order to gain shareholder approval for the acquisition of the 97.5% of Coal Tech and its related business that it does not own for £27.2m in shares at 2.75p each. CoalTech transforms discarded coal into coal pellets.

Lombard Odier sold 1.65 million shares in Chapel Down Group (CDGP) at 75p a share, reducing its stake to 11.5%. Chief executive Frazer Thompson exercised 2.39 million options at 12.5p a share and finance director Richard Woodhouse exercised 200,000 options at 10p a share and all these shares were sold at 75p each.

AIM 

Frontier Smart Technologies (FST) has received another bid approach. Previous potential bidder Science Group (SAG) has built up a 28.3% stake in Frontier so it is in a strong position. It says that it does not intend to sell the shares to another bidder and could block any move to cancel the AIM quotation.

Park Group (PARK) increased investment in the business last year and this knocked underlying pre-tax profit progress which was flat at £12.5m, before asset write-downs. The dividend was increased by 5% to 3.2p a share. There was a smaller contribution from Christmas savings, but growth from corporate promotions and incentives offset that. Increasingly, business is card-based. There was £36.9m of the company’s own cash at the end of March 2019. There will be a dip in profit this year due to higher overheads and profit growth should resume in 2020-21. Chief executive Ian O’Doherty has bought 30,000 shares at 69.5p each.

Stanley Gibbons (SGB) has resolved claims against former management at antique dealer Mallett and this will result in a cash inflow of £850,000 over 12 months.

Safestyle (SSTY) has acquired the freehold of a 161 bed hostel in Pisa for €3.25m. This takes the company’s portfolio to 14 hostels, including the Paris site that is under construction.

Last year was about OnTheMarket (OTMP) building up the number of agencies on its property portal and increasing the number of homebuyers looking at the properties advertised. The rival to Rightmove and Zoopla needs to convert these agencies into fee payers and that process has just started. OnTheMarket will continue to be loss-making this year with higher marketing spending likely to offset higher revenues. Cash is expected to fall from £15.7m to £6.6m at the end of January 2019.

NWF (NWF) did better than expected in the year to May 2019. The feeds business was slightly behind the previous year, but new business helped the food warehouse business to significantly improve its performance and fuels did better than expected despite the milder winter, although behind the previous year. The results will be published on 30 July.

Industrial equipment distributor HC Slingsby (SLNG) says that pressure on margin means that operating profit in the four months to April 2019 is lower, even though revenues are slightly higher. Uncertainty over Brexit is affecting levels of demand in the first half of 2019. Net debt was £1.3m at the end of May 2019.

The actuarial deficit on the Molins UK Pension Fund has been cut from £69.9m to £35.2m over a three-year period. Mpac (MPAC) believes the deficit should be eliminated by July 2024. That is based on maintained payments into the scheme.

Filta (FLTA) says that its figures will be more skewed towards the second half. This is partly down to the integration of the Watbio grease management business. There has been growth in the FiltaSeal business and the North American FiltaFry fryer management franchise business.

Avingtrans (AVG) has acquired the Booth Industries specialist door manufacturing business from the administrator of Redhall (RHL) for £1.8m in cash. Booth made a pre-tax profit of £300,000 last year.

MAIN MARKET 

Full year results from fasteners supplier Trifast (TRI) were slightly better than expected. Revenues were 6% ahead at £209m, while re-tax profit was a similar percentage higher at £23.5m. The dividend was increased by 10% to 4.25p a share. Trading remains tough.

Aquila Services (AQSG) has acquired education and sports consultancy Oaks Consultancy for up to £1.7m in cash and shares. In the year to March 2019, Oaks made a pre-tax profit of £254,000 on revenues of £909,000.

Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd (BMV) is converting $2.89m of loans into 121.5 million shares. Management made most of the loans and chief executive Colin Patterson will end up with 19.1% of Bluebird. Bluebird is debt-free.

Standard list shell Safe Harbour Holdings (SHH) lost £2.3m in 2018 due to overheads and due diligence costs. There is still £26.9m in the bank.

Andrew Hore

Treasure hunting in Nevada with Tertiary Minerals (TYM): Walker Lane marks the spot for gold.

By Harry Dacres-Dixon

  • Treasure hunting in Nevada
  • Walker Lane: The treasure chest you’ve been looking for
  • Tertiary Minerals kick start their hunt for gold
  • Gold in Walker Lane not drying up anytime soon

Treasure hunting in Nevada

Ahoy, me hearties! If you’re planning on going hunting for hidden treasures anytime soon, Nevada might be a good place to start. The state ranked as the top jurisdiction in the world for investment according to the Fraser Institute Investment Attractiveness Index. An outcome of both it’s geological attractiveness and the effects of government policy on attitudes toward exploration investment.

It’s no surprise either. The area has world class infrastructure and has been a prolific producer of key metals including copper, cobalt, lithium silver and gold. When it comes to gold, Nevada is up there with the best of them. In fact, if Nevada were a country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest gold producer, behind only China, Australia and Russia. 

Walker Lane: The treasure chest you’ve been looking for

Its success lies significantly in three regions Carlin, Cortez and Walker Lane. Whilst the Carlin region has previously taken the headlines, it’s the Walker Lane trend which looks capable of delivering the next big pot of gold. 

The Walker Lane is a geologic trough than runs roughly in line with the border between California and Nevada, where the North American Plate meets the Pacific Plate. As well as a significant producer of silver and copper, the mineral belt is host to a number of past and current multi-million-ounce epithermal gold deposits.

Its history stretches back to the late 1850s with the discovery of the famous Comstock Lode. The gold belt holds some of North America’s most crucial mining districts including Comstock, Tonopah, Goldfield, Bullfrog and Aurora.

It’s currently being explored by the likes of Kinross and Barrick at the producing Round Mountain Mine, Gryphon Gold at the Borealis Mine, Newcrest Mining at the Redlich project and Coeur Mining at their Sterling Mine which holds a total inferred resources of 709,000 ounces.

A study by data mining and mineral exploration specialists BW Mining found that, to date, approximately 50 million ounces of gold had been discovered in an area covering roughly 140,000 square kilometres.

For junior gold hunters in Nevada, the Walker Lane Gold Belt offers miners a significantly cheaper exploration target than in Carlin, where sites not already snatched up by the big players are typically deep and out of financial reach for newcomers.  

In contrast, Walker Lane remains underexplored offering substantial potential upside. The area is also already known to hold outstanding high-grade gold zones such as at Newrange Golds Pamlico gold project, compared to the Carlin Trend which is generally mining ore less than a gram per tonne.

Tertiary Minerals kick start their hunt for gold

Sounds like an ideal location to go hunting for gold I’d say. And so Tertiary Minerals (TYM) feel too. The AIM-traded mineral exploration and development company announced at the end of May that it was joining the party in Walker Lane, securing a 20-year lease (with the option to buy) over a group of nine patented claims in the area.

The acquisition falls “in line with our strategy to build a new project portfolio which will enable the Company to reduce its future geographical, technical, permitting and commodity risk exposure and provide long-term shareholder value” said MD Richard Clemmey.

Their sites situated in the Pyramid Mining District lies at the Northwest end of the Walker Lane, 40km away from Reno. The company reported that the area has undergone limited exploration in 1989-90.

As part of their announcement, TYM revealed that drilling at hole PYR9 had intersected visible gold and assayed 1.52m grading 17.8 g/t Au from 94.5m down hole. Shiver me timbers!

Mr Clemmey as would be expected was rather happy to deliver the news, commenting: “We are delighted to have acquired an interest in the Pyramid Project. Projects with high-grade gold results in drilling that have not already been followed up are hard to find in Nevada.

Gold in Walker Lane not drying up anytime soon

The move looks an intelligent one for TYM. Whilst Nevada is famous for its droughts, gold supplies in Walker Lane don’t look like they’ll be drying up anytime soon.

This acquisition is just the first step though. Let’s hope that X marks the spot for Tertiary and their next series of announcements reveal some serious treasures. 

 

References

BW Mining Walker Lane

Coeur Mining Sterling, Nevada

Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies, 2018

Investing News Nevada’s Walker Lane Gold Trend Ripe for Discovery

TSX Media Nevada Gold Explorer’s Big Exploration Plans Paying Off

321 Gold Treasures of the Walker Lane

Mining Journal – Iron ore price to incentivise swing production, says BMO

Current iron ore prices of US$100/tonne should be enough to spark activation of about 60 million tonnes of swing production to “balance the market”, according to BMO, with perhaps 40Mt of that coming from China.

BMO director, equity research, metals & mining – international, Edward Sterck, said a restart of Vale’s stalled 30Mtpa Brucutu mine in Brazil could restore 15Mt of production in the second half of this year. But there was no sign of a restart yet.

Global iron ore production has been impacted in the first half of 2019 by Vale’s dam failure at Brumadinho in Brazil, and the continuing legal issues around Brucutu, as well as weather and fire disruptions affecting Rio Tinto and BHP in Western Australia. BMO says shipping data suggests Rio Tinto and BHP are back on track, but Vale continues to struggle.

A need for 60Mt of swing production – US$6 billion of iron ore sales – could open up opportunities for Australian and other producers, though Sterck suggested to Mining Journal that higher production and earnings were “already baked in” to valuations.

“The iron ore price remains above our forecasts, suggesting upside potential to estimates,” he said.

“The high price should outweigh the supply disruption/shortfall [in the first half].”

LocoSoco’s Alex Mark talks to The Oblique Life pages podcast

LocoSoco’s CMO Alex Mark joins a discussion themed on  Mother Nature featuring Justin Lennon, a marine biologist and entrepreneur of company Conservation Guide, and Julia Koskella who works at SYSTEMIQ, a company that helps global corporations, NGOs and policy-makers to solve today’s sustainability challenges. Alex talks about our plans for refill models and enabling the values of sustainability to work economically.

Andrew Hore – Quoted Micro 10 June 2019

NEX EXCHANGE

Proton Partners International Ltd (PPI) has asked Woodford Investment Management to subscribe for £25m worth of shares at 176p a share. This is part of an agreement with Woodford that was outlined in the prospectus and it comes at a time when the fund manager is coming under pressure for poor performance and it has closed redemptions from one of its funds. The cash will pay off a loan and provide working capital.

NQ Minerals (NQMI) is making a £155,000 investment in Tasmania Energy Metals and the two companies will evaluate whether they should develop an integrated facility for the treatment of metal concentrate. NQ also has an exclusivity period until the end of July during which to decide whether to acquire Tasmania’s assets.

Sativa Investments (SATI) has signed an offtake agreement with a Swiss supplier of cannabis oil. This will be used to manufacture cannabidiol products.

AfriAg Global (AFRI) has invested £300,000 in Apollon Formularies for a 0.71% stake. Apollon plans to open a licenced retail medicinal cannabis dispensary and processing facility in Jamaica by the end of the month.

Newbury Racecourse (NYR) says that it is unlikely to return to paying dividends or return capital to shareholders before 2022 at the earliest. There is uncertainty about future revenue streams from fixed-odds betting terminals and how this could impact UK betting. It could reduce prize money levels. The onsite hotel has increased revenues by 15% so far this year.

Trading in shares of Equatorial Mining (EM.P) has been suspended ahead of publishing accounts. They should be published at the time of the general meeting to gain approval of the acquisition of Rwanda-based miner and explorer Eastinco. A £1.2m fundraising is also planned.

Altona Energy (ANR) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Shaanxi Qianyan Vanadium and Magnesium Mining, which owns a vanadium mine in China. The plan is to forma joint venture where Altona will be the controlling shareholder. Due diligence will take up to six months and there will be a JORC-compliant mineral resource classification report. The estimated reserve is 190,000 tonnes of vanadium.

Formation Group (FRM) has secured a £10m subscription at 7.71p a share through the acquisition of Zandra Holdings, whose asset is £10m in cash. This takes the Kennedy Private Trust stake in Formation to 89.99%. A £10m loan facility ahs also been secured.

The Little Bear mine area has been transferred to Panther Metals (PALM) and the Little Bear vein is a high priority drill target in order to see if the bonanza grade gold mineralisation still exists at depth. Panther has also applied for a licence over the Annaburroo gold project in Northern Territory, Australia.

Walls and Futures REIT (WAFR) has secured a £600,000 secured revolving credit facility and spent £465,000 on a bungalow in Didcot to be redeveloped into a home providing specialist support for four adults.

Valiant Investments (VALP) is raising £263,000 at 1.5p a share and it is changing its name to Eurocann International as an indication of the change in strategy to investment in the medicinal cannabis sector. Jeremy Rose will become chief executive and he has a number of directorships including of Speakeasy Cannabis.  Burns Singh Tennent-Bhohi will become a non-executive.

EcoVista (EVTP) had £419,000 in cash at the end of February 2019 and it is seeking further investment. The interim loss declined from £238,000 to £202,000. Net assets were £1.19m at the end of February 2019.

Share trading in Wishbone Gold (WSBN) has been suspended because it has not published its 2018 accounts.

AIM  

The smart machines division of Vianet (VNET) is going to be the source of profit growth for the coming years. Profit can be improved by converting the vending machines that came with the Vendman acquisition to Vianet’s contactless technology, as well as winning new business. The smart zones pub dispensing technology division should be able to maintain its contribution with lower UK profit due to pub closures being offset by an improved performance in the US. Pre-tax profit is expected to improve from £2.7m to £2.9m, although earnings per share will be hit by a higher tax charge.

Interim revenues at smart home devices supplier LightwaveRF (LWRF) increased 120% to £2.5m, although there was still a pre-tax loss of £1.35m.  New distribution channels are helping to accelerate growth in revenues. The company could move into profit next year

Bad weather in the US has hampered the progress of Somero Enterprises (SOM) and led to forecast downgrades. Demand for concrete levelling equipment is normally stronger in the spring. This year’s earnings have been cut by 12% and next year by 11%. This will also reduce the potential dividend. The forecast 2019 normal dividend plus payout of surplus cash has been cut from 27.8 cents a share to 19.8 cents a share.

Waste-to-energy technology developer EQTEC (EQT) is acquiring a 19.99% stake in North Fork Community Power, a biomass gasification power project in California. EQTEC will supply $2.5m worth of equipment from its Newry site in return for the stake. It also expects to generate €2.2m from selling additional equipment.

Microsaic Systems (MSYS) has signed a distribution agreement for the Microsaic 4500 MID MS detector with CM Corporation for the South Korean market.

A shareholder owning a 17.2% stake in Rurelec (RUR) intends to propose an AGM resolution for the appointment of Gordon Fisher as a director. He is a former boss of a freight forwarding and customs brokerage. The electricity generator reduced its pre-tax loss from £5.8m to £600,000 in 2018, mainly due to lower overheads, exchange gains and a disposal gain. NAV is 4.4p a share, which is more than four times the share price.

Driver (DRV) had already said that its interims would be disappointing and pre-tax profit slumped from £2.11m to £762,000. The Middle East and Asia Pacific were tough markets with lower contributions. The expert witness operations made a reduced contribution. A 0.5p a share interim dividend was announced, and the ex-dividend date is 19 September. The company is also buying back shares in order to put a floor under the share price.

Chemicals-focused shell Wilmcote Holdings (WCH) is in exclusive discussions with Arclin Inc for a potential acquisition. Trading in the shares has been suspended.

Acquisitions consultancy K3 Capital (K3C) has confirmed that trading is in line with previous guidance and EBITDA is at the upper end of the range of £4.5m to £5m. An 80% payout would mean a reduction in dividend from 11.2p a share to 7.2p a share.

Osirium Technologies (OSI) has won a contract with a European telecoms services provider. The three year contract covers cyber security software and services.

MAIN MARKET 

A strong first half has continued into the second half trading for automotive information publisher Haynes Publishing (HYNS) and pre-tax profit for the year to May 2019 is expected to exceed expectations by 10%. This suggests pre-tax profit of around £2m. The results will be announced on 12 September.

Caffyns (CFYN) reported a small improvement in underlying pre-tax profit to £1.45m in the year to March 2019. New car sales were 10% lower, which is more than three times the market decline. However, there was growth in used car sales and aftersales revenues.

Positive news from Argo Blockchain (ARB) where results for May were well ahead of the company’s budgets. New cryptomining hardware has started contributing faster than expected and rising cryptocurrency prices have improved mining yields. A further £2.85m is being invested in equipment. There was £685,000 generated in May, based on a bitcoin price of $8,575, while cash operating costs were £280,000. Second quarter figures will be better than expected. If the bitcoin price is maintained, then there will be £2.85m of crypto assets at the end of the second quarter.

BigDish (DISH) has raised £2.1m at 7.2p a share and this should be enough cash for the restaurant platform until 2021. The UK rollout will be accelerated.

Pembridge Resources (PERE) is acquiring the Minto mine from Capstone Mining. Pembridge will pay up to $20m out of future cash flows. Commercial production could recommence before the end of the year. A $10m loan has been secured.

Symphony International Holdings (SIHL) has made an investment in Soothe Healthcare, which manufactures feminine hygiene products under the Paree and Pariz brands.

Andrew Hore

Stockhead: LionOre founders among the canny investors climbing aboard at Salt Lake Potash (SO4)

Salt Lake announced this morning that it had received binding commitments to place 37.5 million shares at $0.54 each to raise $20.25 million, with the funds to be used to advance construction of its Lake Way Sulphate of Potash (SOP) Project near Wiluna in the WA goldfields.

The company said the placement was led by a consortium of cornerstone investors, including the LionOre founders, which had agreed to subscribe for shares worth $14.25 million.

The consortium also includes investors that took early positions in African-focused uranium explorer Mantra Resources. Mantra, which was listed on the ASX, was taken over by Rosatom for $1.02 billion in 2010.

Salt Lake managing director Tony Swiericzuk said the company was “delighted to have attracted such a group of investors at a pivotal time in the rapid development of the Lake Way Project”.

“We intend to collaborate closely with the consortium and expect to benefit substantially from the advice of its members,” he said.

“These are individuals that possess a wealth of management, global finance and project development expertise and bring access to very well established commodities marketing networks.”

The Williamson Pit at Lake Way hosts the highest grade brine resource in the country (Supplied).

The balance of the placement was taken up by Salt Lake’s largest shareholder, Swiss private bank and asset manager Lombard Odier, which subscribed for shares worth $6 million.

The placement was completed at the same price, $0.54, as Salt Lake shares last traded on the ASX before a trading halt was requested before the market opened on Wednesday.

Upon the resumption of trading this morning, the stock gained 7.4 per cent to $0.58.

At this price, the company has a market capitalisation of about $120 million.

Leading the potash pack

Salt Lake is one of a handful of ASX-listed companies seeking to pioneer the production of SOP, a premium grade potassium fertiliser, from Western Australian salt lakes.

It is well placed to take honours as the first to achieve commercial production, with construction well underway at Lake Way on the country’s first commercial scale on-lake evaporation ponds.

Construction of the evaporation ponds at Lake Way is nearly complete (Supplied).

These ponds will have a capacity of 1.8 gigalitres, enough to capture the total measured brine resource in the nearby Williamson Pit.

At 1.2 gigalitres grading 25kg/m3, this is the highest grade brine resource in the country.

Once construction of the ponds is complete, they will allow for the dewatering of the Williamson Pit, a process that will accelerate first production at Lake Way.

Salt Lake owns nine large salt lakes in the northern goldfields and has a long-term plan to develop an integrated SOP operation, producing from several, or all, of the lakes.

Specific uses for the funds from the latest raising include the development of on-lake infrastructure at Lake Way, paying deposits on process plant long-lead items, completion of feasibility studies and general working capital.

This story was developed in collaboration with Salt Lake Postash, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This advice has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, therefore, consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs, before acting on the advice. If this advice relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product, the recipient should obtain a disclosure document, a Product Disclosure Statement or an offer document (PDS) relating to the product and consider the PDS before making any decision about whether to acquire the product.

The Age: Even if it all turns sour, 2019 is already a vintage year for iron ore

The Age 30th May 2019

On Tuesday the market watched in awe as the iron ore price was elevated to eye watering levels of $US108. By Wednesday, fresh speculation over marginal additions to supply caused the Chinese iron ore futures to wobble – the price dropped 2.3 per cent.

When a commodity has soared to a five-year high in a matter of months, wild swings are not surprising.

But make no mistake 2019 will go down in history as a vintage year for iron ore.

The rally that analysts find hard to predict.
The rally that analysts find hard to predict.

Even if the price dropped significantly in the second half of this calendar year to the $US80 levels it traded at towards the end of last year, the high prices for the first five months of this year would have already bolstered the profitability of the major Australian producers and the coffers of the federal and West Australian governments.

We haven’t seen iron ore prices at this level since 2014.

If the current spot price was factored into 2020 financial year earnings for our major miners, their profits would spike 60 per cent, according to analysts.

And a year at these prices would add about $4 billion to federal government coffers.

Already this calendar year Rio shares have risen 38 per cent, Fortescue stock has doubled in price, and BHP’s shares are 12 per cent higher.

How much is left in the tank for the iron ore price run and how long it can be sustained at levels above $US100 has left forecasters at a loss; they have had to revisit their assumptions as the price trajectory regularly leapfrogs over their targeted iron ore prices.

Back in February, CBA commodities analyst Vivek Dhar predicted the iron ore price could hit $US100 – a view that at the time was seen by some as outlandish.

Three months on and the product that feeds Chinese steel mills is in even higher demand, Chinese stockpiles are at a dangerously low level, supply in the first three months of the year from Australian producers was curtailed by weather events and most importantly the production issues that have plagued Brazil are not not getting any better.

Since the mine tailings dam burst in Brazil in January, the ripple effect and the actions of regulators and courts have forced suspensions of various operations – including dams and mines.

It has resulted in a roller-coaster ride for the iron ore price.

In May, Brazil’s major producer, Vale, told prosecutors in the state of Minas Gerais that a dam was at risk of rupturing at its Gongo Soco mine, about 60 kilometres from where its Brumadinho dam collapsed in January, killing more than 230 people.

The Brumadinho dam disaster and subsequent mine and dam closures in Brazil had prompted Vale, the world’s biggest iron ore miner, to slash its iron ore sales estimate for this year.

Hopes that Vale could increase its shipments were dashed early in May after a court ordered a halt to its operations at its Brucutu iron ore mining complex, reversing a lower court decision that had allowed the mines’ activities to resume.

Analysts have generally underestimated the lengthy regulatory fallout and the repercussions associated with industrial disasters. This time is no different.

And they certainly misread the strength of China’s steel output this year – which, on an annualised basis, topped 1 billion metric tonnes.

Few have been willing to formally predict how long this iron ore boom will continue because it is not a cyclical one.

Analysts have misread the strength of China’s steel output this year.
Analysts have misread the strength of China’s steel output this year.CREDIT:QILAI SHEN

However, the general consensus is that markets should not factor in the resumption of much additional supply from Vale this year.

And this should put a floor under the price.

Some new supply (from marginal producers in India and China) may come on stream later this year – but new entrants will also be waiting to hear about the length of supply disruptions in Brazil.

Currently there are a raft of estimates for 2019 at between $US90 and $US95 and most projections fall back to $US80 levels in 2020.

For investors with iron ore stocks, 2019 is the year they hit the jackpot.

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