Jane Morgan Management gathered a who’s who of ASX-listers to strut their stuff in Sydney a few days ago – with a backdrop of Sydney Harbour and some very fancy Opera House food as an extra sweetener on the deal.

As far as investor conferences go, you’d be hard pressed to find a better venue than the harbour-facing tip of Sydney’s Bennelong Point. That’s the one with the Opera House on it.

In the past, the venue’s been home to just about everything from Wagner to The Wiggles, and in mid September, Jane Morgan Management (JMM) welcomed some of the ASX’s most promising Small Caps (and one bigger-than-small cap) to speak at the JMM Sydney Investor Lunch.

The format was a series of lightning-quick, “no PowerPoints, please” speeches, so the broad audience of attendees were treated to the highlights of what’s happening at a dozen companies – most of them miners, but there were some exceptions – in a setting that turned out to be refreshingly informal.

Representatives from the likes of Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM) , Arizona Lithium (ASX:AZL) and Latin Resources Limited (ASX:LRS) had a chance to speak off the cuff, unencumbered by the usual dizzying array of graphs, pie charts, or images of Large Things in vast otherwise-empty deserts.


Host Jane Morgan from JMM, with the presenters at the JMM Sydney Investor Lunch. Pic: Supplied (JMM).


The end result was many of the presentations became more about the human side – a far more personal look at where the companies are at, straight from the mouths of those at the top.

Between that and the top quality Opera House lunch, if you weren’t there, you really missed out.

But while I can’t do much about the fact you missed out on a superb two-course meal looking out over the harbour, what I can help with is footage from the event so you can see and hear for yourself what the companies had to say on the day.


Straight from the horse’s mouth

Mitre Mining (ASX:MMC)

Ray Shorrocks, interim CEO

Mitre Mining has its eye on two hot commodities — gold and lithium — and is actively exploring premiere mining districts across Australia’s east and west.

Overseeing that vision is interim CEO Ray Shorrocks — the driving force behind homegrown resources stocks like Bellevue Gold, Cygnus Metals and AuTECO Minerals.


“While Mitre Mining looks like a small company, what you’ve seen in the last nine months is us positioning to manoeuvre forward and get our assets in the right place,” Shorrocks told Stockhead’s Ashtyn Hiron.

“Don’t be surprised if you see Mitre buy something quite big.”

In the meantime, the explorer has plenty to keep its hands busy: assets in NSW’s Lachlan Fold Belt and WA’s Pilbara region remain the focus as Mitre looks for large-scale gold, base metal and lithium discoveries.

It seems Shorrocks has one clear message to impart: watch this space.


Pan Asia Metals (ASX:PAM)

Paul Lock, chairman and managing director

The green energy revolution is in motion, and the world’s eyes are trained on countries that will meet growing demand for critical transition metals.

Southeast Asia may not be the first place you think of when it comes to lithium production, but Pan Asia Metals boss Paul Lock believes it should be on investors’ radars.

“PAM is the only lithium exploration company in Southeast Asia with advanced lithium projects heading into feasibility,” Lock explained.

“It’s a low-cost environment. Our objective is to produce lithium chemicals and participate in the lithium-ion battery supply chain.”


Central to PAM’s lithium vision is an MoU with Vietnamese EV maker VinES, which gives the company immediate exposure to the region’s emerging lithium supply chain.

And with rapid population growth set to fuel demand for cleaner, greener transport, Lock is certain Southeast Asia is the place to be.


Latin Resources Limited (ASX:LRS)

Christopher Gale, managing director

Latin Resources has grabbed the lithium bull by the horns in South America, where it’s accelerating exploration over its Salinas project in Brazil’s Bananal Valley.

The Colina deposit is the company’s pride and joy — home to a 45.2Mt resource grading at 1.34% Li2O, and the subject of an intense exploration campaign.

“We have 11 drill rigs and we’re drilling 65,000 metres. We’ve got 200 people on site — 60 of which are from the local town of Salinas,” Gale told Stockhead.

“We will launch our preliminary economic assessment by the end of the month before moving towards our DFS, which we hope to have completed by June next year.”

Latin is also progressing environmental studies and its development application, citing strong government support as Salinas’ lithium potential comes into focus.

“We’ve transformed the company from an explorer to a developer; our next step is to become a producer,” Gale signed off.


Critical Minerals Group (ASX:CMG)

Scott Winter, managing director

Lithium is attracting the lion’s share of attention in the critical minerals arena, but don’t underestimate the importance of other elements like vanadium.

Critical Minerals Group MD Scott Winter is building a business on this premise, and he reckons vanadium batteries have an important role to play in our future energy mix.


“Vanadium is a unique mineral. It’s been around for quite a while — particularly in steel manufacturing — but it has a valuable position in the energy storage market,” Winter said.

“The vanadium battery is a safe, reliable option with medium to long-term storage, making it perfect for daily cycling and picking up grid-scale capacity.”

Hot off the press is CMG’s new operations strategy, which positions the company to create vanadium products optimised for the battery industry.

With drilling underway at the Lindfield project and pilot-scale test work set to commence early next year, it’ll be interesting to see where this vanadium pundit heads next.


Jade Gas Holdings (ASX:JGH)

Dennis Morton, executive chairman

There’s growing interest in the Mongolian gas sector — home to a smattering of ASX-listers, including South Gobi player Jade Gas.

But according to executive chairman Dennis Morton, what sets his company apart is the commercial prospectivity of its coal bed methane project.

“With any small resources company, it’s very important that you have an asset that can be commercialised — you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” Morton told Stockhead’s Ashtyn Hiron.


“We’re very fortunate that we have not only a good project and a stable environment in which to operate, but also a ready-made market on our doorstep.”

Come November, Jade Gas plans to implement its production pilot, which involves lateral drilling into four coal seams — the last key box to check so the project can be commercialised.


Arizona Lithium (ASX:AZL)

Paul Lloyd, managing director

As the name suggests, Arizona Lithium is keeping a keen eye on North America’s battery corridor.

Two lithium development projects — Big Sandy and Prairie — are central to the company’s clean, low-cost battery metals vision, which could one day see it play a pivotal role in the North America’s domestic supply chain.

“The Biden Administration is pushing very hard for internal production of lithium, given it’s a scarce commodity of strategic importance,” managing director Paul Lloyd told Stockhead.

“We are way beyond exploration. We have 6.1 million tonnes of lithium in our global resource. Just to put that into perspective — the current worldwide consumption market [for lithium] is 720,000 tonnes.”


Right now, Arizona is focused on tightening the nuts and bolts on its direct lithium extraction (DLE) pilot plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, where the plan is to commence operations in November.


Pantera Minerals (ASX:PFE)

Matthew Hanson, CEO

Once solely focused on the WA iron ore game, Pantera Minerals has broadened its focus to include trending battery metals like lithium and manganese.

Like Arizona, the explorer has locked on to the US lithium story, where it recently picked up a 35% interest in the Superbird lithium brine project — nestled in the heart of Arkansas’ renowned Smackover Formation and home to global majors like Exxon and Albemarle.

Pantera CEO Matt Hansen filled Stockhead in on the portfolio expansion, noting growing interest in the historical oil and gas hub as the search for green energy metals heats up.


“While we’ve entered [the region] in the last two months, Exxon abut our project and jumped on in May,” he explained.

“To put things into perspective, Exxon is 4.5 times the value of Rio Tinto — it’s an exciting time for us and investors.”

Over the next few months, it’ll be heads down as Pantera grows the property footprint and establishes an exploration target.


Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM)

Dr Stephen Grocott, managing director and CEO

With a focus on energy sources old and new, Queensland Pacific Metals is operating in a league of its own. And while the company’s TECH battery chemicals hub is its flagship project, there’s another asset that’s become a talking point.

“We’ve recently become the sixth-largest domestic gas producer listed on the ASX,” managing director and CEO Dr Stephen Grocott said of the company’s Moranbah project.

“In 12 months’ time, that [project] will lead us to around $200m in revenue and more than $50m in EBIDTA.”


There’s no sign of slowing down: QPM plans to bolster gas production to support the TECH project, vertically integrating the energy supply chain to achieve negative carbon emissions.

It’s part of the reason why QPM has one of the best ESG track records of ASX-listed resources stocks — credential that has attracted investment from global battery bigwigs and automakers like General Motors, LG Energy Solution and POSCO.


Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU)

Shane Hartwig, executive director

How do you like your rare earths? For Northern Minerals’ director Shane Hartwig, it’s heavy all the way.

The resources stock is on the lookout for dysprosium and terbium — two heavy rare earths considered essential in the burgeoning high-performance permanent magnet market — up at the Browns Range project in WA’s Kimberley region.


“We’re keen on getting our project into production … we’ve spent a lot of time developing the resource,” Hartwig told Stockhead.

“The key element that we need to get done is our definitive feasibility study, and we also need to secure project funding.”

As it works to turn on the production tap, Northern Minerals is eager to shore up an alternative source of valuable heavy rare earths, decreasing reliance on stalwarts like China and Myanmar along the way.


Cauldron Energy (ASX:CXU)

Jonathan Fisher, CEO

Cauldron Energy CEO Jonathan Fisher categorises his company as “a turnaround story” after it underwent an intense metamorphosis.

“In the past eight months, we’ve got a new chairman, new CEO, new strategy and new asset,” he explained.

“We’re exploring the energy transition with a focus on uranium and nickel … [uranium’s] going to be a big driver of value going forward.”


Investors can expect to hear more from the Cauldron team imminently; results from an EM survey over the Melrose nickel-copper-PGE project in WA are expected in due course.

“Subject to those results, we drill,” Fisher signed off.


Black Rock Mining (ASX:BKT)

John de Vries, managing director and CEO

In recent years, Tanzania has made a name for itself as an emerging battery metals hub thanks to its graphite and rare earths bounty.

Black Rock Mining is fully aboard the train; its shovel-ready Mahenge graphite project is backed by a recent investment deal and offtake agreement with POSCO — the world’s largest anode producer outside of China.

Speaking with Stockhead’s Ashtyn Hiron, BKT managing director and CEO John de Vries says the graphite developer is prepped and primed to develop the Tier 1 Tanzanian orebody.


“We’ve got access to some infrastructure that’s pretty unique in this space — grid-powered hydro, rail past the front door and access to the largest container port on the east coast of Africa,” he said.

“All of those things come together to give us a low position on the cost curve and a high position on the revenue curve, which is exactly where you want to be.”

With key government agreements and permits in place, Black Rock is dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on debt financing agreements — deals that will pave the way for a Final Investment Decision on this construction-ready project.


Alicanto Minerals (ASX:AQI)

Rob Sennitt, managing director

Sweden may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of exploration, but Alicanto Minerals sees blue sky potential in the Bergslagen mining region.

The area’s longstanding production history — spanning at least a millennia — has not just made it an attractive target for producers and developers, but also opened the doors to explorers looking for something new.

Alicanto MD Rob Sennitt said the production metrics behind the company’s Greater Falun copper-gold camp and Sala silver project make them all the more appealing as exploration prospects.


“It’s a great part of the world to be operating in,” he said of the region in an interview with Stockhead.

“There’s real pressure in Europe; they use 25% of the world’s commodities but only produce around 3% or 4% — there’s [an impetus] to move towards that self-sufficiency.”

With a long-awaited drill program about to kick off at Falun and a focus on building the resource at Sala, it sounds like Alicanto has a busy few months ahead.

“If we can find that high-grade silver [at Sala], that will turn that operation on its head,” Sennitt concluded.


At Stockhead we tell it like it is, while Arizona Lithium, Alicanto Minerals, Latin Resources and Pantera Minerals are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.