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Thirty of the ASX’s most innovative small cap plays are gathering today and tomorrow at the 2018 Gold Coast Investment Showcase to share their stories with investors.

Stockhead is at the conference and is covering the highlights throughout both days.

As the conference takes place, the ASX’s Small Ords index of emerging companies is at near seven-year highs. The index was at 2,874 early this morning — just a few points below it’s one-year high of 2889.

The conference heard from gold miners this morning — with Matsa Resources (ASX:MAT), Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT) and West Wits Mining (ASX:WWI) all discussing the rush towards cashflow positive mining projects.

Impact Minerals managing director Dr Mike Jones launched proceedings discussing the current flurry of activity in the Pilbara gold space, but driving home the importance of research and planning in getting the most out of any gold project.

Impact has $4m in cash on hand and the company is currently working efficiently to uncover opportunities across a number of projects, including its Blackridge conglomerate gold project, which it announced plans to take 95 per cent of in May.

Jones championed the size of the conglomerate gold opportunity in Australia, highlighting that when it comes to mining projections in this space, there’s only one thing to do: the research, including drilling and sampling sites to gauge the opportunity.

Just yesterday, Impact Minerals told the market it planned to amp up exploration activities across all its sites, including the Blackridge project, with a review of appropriate sampling techniques underway.

Impact Minerals managing director Dr Mike Jones.

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West Wits Mining exploration director Dr Andrew Tunks put the current fervour about gold in the Pilbara in context: “it’s fantastic”, he said, but investors should keep in mind that opportunity also lies well beyond Australia.

“Why are people so excited about the Pilbara? Because the thing they are going to find there, it’s what’s already happening in the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa,” he said.

While West Wits has a range of projects on the go, the central priority is continuing the development of its Witwatersrand Basin site, which has become a cashflow positive mining site – one of the first Tunks has ever worked on, he said, calling it the “best gold deposit i’ve worked on in 30 years”.

The rush of gold players continued into the morning, with Matsa Resources managing director Paul Poli also putting the focus on project efficiency in the gold mining space.

Poli described Matsa’s past 12 months as “busy: and we continue to be busy”, discussing four projects including Matsa’s Fortitude Lake Carey and Red Dog projects.

The priority going forward is swift moves between exploration and production on sites, with Poli highlighting the gap between acquiring the Fortitude project and mining was around 12 months.

On Tuesday, the company announced its Fortitude Trial Mine had generated $9.4m in revenue with a positive operating cashflow achieved.

Project completion to prove yourself

It wasn’t just the miners on about project management this morning.

Phoslock Water Solutions (ASX:PHK) managing director Robert Schuitema discussed the drive the business has to complete projects on time in China for its wetlands and canal cleanup projects.

Phoslock — developed in Australia by the CSIRO — is designed to treat blue-green algae blooms in natural water bodies by safely removing phosphate.

Schuitema says the company is currently focusing on completing its $15m wetlands project and $5m canal cleanup project and has $10 million of projects in the pipeline as it goes into the new financial year.

The business has a laser focus on working with its China team to complete these jobs successfully, because this is a test run in many ways, Schuitema said.

A lot of people are looking at how well we are doing on this,” he said.

The size of the market for water cleanup in China alone is huge: while Phoslock is currently working on a canal cleanup about 10kms long, there are hundreds of kms of potential cleanup projects right across the country.

Phoslock’s share price is up 37 per cent over the past six months, sitting at 37c before the market opened this morning.  

Investors also heard a three year plan from disruptive 3D printing startup AML Technologies this morning.

The Adelaide business, headed up by founder Andy Sales, uses a wire arc manufacturing (WAM) technique to print metal parts for use in everything from the defence to aerospace sectors.

Not even five years old yet, AML Technologies has already had interest from the likes of Boeing and the business has a years-long gameplan to eventually start selling 3D printing technology.

The startup is not yet listed on the ASX but is currently accepting investment from generic and sophisticated investors for a raise of up to $1.5m.

Sales has an ambitious outline for growth, but as the company looks to work its way through key milestones, it knows the size of its market. In particular, AML can sense how it might cash into the aluminium alloys space through its printing.

“The aluminium alloys market is worth $US49.5m. If we can get a small portion of that, we’ll be quite happy,” Sales said.