• NICO Resources directors confident the nickel price will recover topping up their holdings
  • Venture Minerals directors support recent placement with free attaching options 
  • Microequities Asset Management founder and current CEO Carlos Gill tops up his interest


A volatile February 2024 has seen directors of several companies increase stakes in their companies, buying shares via on-market trades or participating in capital raisings.

For eagle-eyed investors, this can often be seen as a positive sign because it implies the director is not-so-quietly-confident in the company’s projects when they put some of their own cash into the kitty.

It’s by no means a guarantee the company will do well or is worth investing in but, if a director has some personal wealth tied to the company’s success, it could lead to greater accountability and decision-making that’s in the best interest of shareholders.


Nico Resources directors buy the dip

Nickel laterite player NICO Resources (ASX:NC1) has seen its leaders back the nickel price to recover,  topping up their holdings during February.

The London Metal Exchange nickel price closed at $16,089.50/mt on February 14, down 39% year on year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Furthermore, the Federal Government has added nickel to its critical minerals list, expecting weak prices for the battery metal to persist and pressure operators throughout 2024.

The Big Australian BHP (ASX:BHP) has wiped as much as $5.4 billion off the value of its 58-year-old Nickel West business and even flagged its potential closure.

Non-executive chairman Peter Cook purchased 2 million fully paid ordinary shares indirectly on February 21 for $300k. Managing director and CEO Jonathan Shellabear bought 500,000 fully paid ordinary shares directly also on February 21 for $75k.

The NC1 share price has dropped 41% YTD.


Calima Energy chairman buys ~$288k worth of shares

Canadian focused oil and gas producer Calima Energy (ASX:CE1) saw its chairman purchase 2.5 million shares indirectly for $287,500 directly on February 16.

CE1 in January agreed to sell 100% of its ownership in wholly owned subsidiary, Blackspur Oil Corp for a cash consideration of $83.3m to emerging private oil and gas junior, Astara Energy Corp.

In May 2021, Blackspur Oil Corp merged with Calima, acquiring the Brooks and Thorsby oil and gas production assets in Alberta, southeast of Calgary, and near the city of Edmonton, respectively.

The board of directors at CE1 has advised the sale of Blackspur due to the company’s market capitalisation does not accurately reflect Blackspur’s intrinsic value.


Venture Minerals throw support behind placement

Venture Minerals (ASX:VMS) has seen its recent placement with free attaching options well supported by directors. Non-executive chairman Norman Ashton indirectly acquired 4 million fully paid ordinary shares and 4 million listed options for $30k.

Managing director Andrew Radonjic ponied up for 2,666,667 fully paid ordinary shares and 2,666,667 listed options indirectly for $20k.

The director participation was approved at a general meeting on February 20, 2024 and issued on February 22.

VMS recently announced a first batch of assay results from Stage 1 resource definition drilling at the Jupiter REE prospect, hitting a record 48m @ 3,025ppm in total rare earth oxides (TREO).

The Jupiter prospect is part of VM’s overall Brothers project is spaced over 40km2 and has the potential to host REEs of significant scale and grade.

It’s close to Lynas Rare Earths’ (ASX: LYC) Mt Weld rare earths concentrator and Iluka Resources’ (ASX: ILU) Eneabba refinery currently in development.


Mt Malcolm Mines bullish on prospects

Gold and critical minerals explorer Mt Malcolm Mines (ASX:M2M)  managing director Trevor Dixon ponied up for 450,000 shares directly on February 15 for $10,575.

Non-executive director Gary Powell topped up his holding and purchased 200,000 fully paid ordinary shares directly for $5200 on February 20, while technical director Daniel Tuffin also purchased 150,000 fully paid ordinary shares directly for $3525 on February 16.

M2M recently announced closed-spaced shallow reverse circulation drilling aimed at converting the exploration target at the explorer’s Golden Crown prospect in Leonora Western Australia into a maiden resource has returned visible gold in numerous intersections.

Golden Crown is a historical producer, once yielding some 1,720oz gold at a grade of 29g/t from several stopes and shafts.


Microequities Asset Management backs recovery

Fund manager specialising in exchange listed industrial micro and small caps Microequities Asset Management’s (ASX:MAM) founder and current CEO Carlos Gill bought 80,000 ordinary shares directly and indirectly for $51,106 on February 21.

MAM reported funds under managment (FUM) grew by 4% in H1 FY24 on pcp, following strong absolute and relative performance in its Pure Microcap Value Fund and the Global Value Microcap Fund.

Strong cost management also saw a slight increase in operating profit from recurring revenue to $2.92 million, up 2% on pcp, in what MAM says “continues to be challenging external conditions for the business”.

In his accompanying address with release of H1 FY24 results Gill says the key thematic impacting the business over the past 24 months had been an ongoing bear market in the Australian industrial small cap space.

“We have been able to offset that challenging external environment thanks to the investment management team’s ability to generate alpha in several core strategies which have delivered strong absolute and relative returns in the context of negative benchmark returns,” he said.

“The asset class headwinds do however dent investor confidence and contain gross inflows across the industry and by consequence in our own business making funds under management (FUM) growth more elusive.”

Gill says positively, MAM holds many assets that have experienced strong intrinsic value growth with subdued market prices, with those assets representing potential future FUM growth should the gap between those two qualities close.

“From an opportunity set perspective it is undoubtedly one of best set of pricing conditions we have ever observed in our asset class outside of systemic shock events,” he said.

“We remain buoyant by the long-term prospects of many of our investee companies and their revaluation potential which should positively impact the financial performance of Microequities Asset Management.”

The MAM share price is up 20% YTD.


Zeotech chair is backing its tech

Emerging mineral processing technology company Zeotech (ASX:ZEO) non-executive chair Sylvia Tulloch indirectly ponied up for 500,000 shares for $13,736.26 on February 16 and 20.

ZEO is exploring the potential of using zeolites – manufactured porous mineral frameworks composed mainly of aluminium and silicon – to address the challenge of landfill methane.

Last November, ZEO conducted trials conducted in collaboration with Griffith University exploring the use of zeolites to cap landfills and control emissions, demonstrating early methane oxidation efficiency of 70-80%.

The zeolites, particularly ZEO’s zeoteCH4 product, were found to foster the active colonisation of methane oxidising bacteria, enhancing methane abatement effectiveness.

Building on these findings, ZEO has initiated an infield validation trial of its zeoteCH4 zeolites at a Cleanaway Waste Management landfill.


The NC1, CE1, VMS, M2M, MAM, & ZEO share price today:



At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Venture Minerals, Mt Malcolm Mines and Zeotech are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.