CLOSING BELL: Because sometimes you just know when enough is enough
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All up, it’s been a pretty tidy old Monday – from the ASX jumping 0.5% at open, it climbed another 0.4% and is on track to finish 0.8% better than it was yesterday.
InfoTech (+1.91%) and Energy (+1.51%) have led the charge into positive territory today, with the rest of the market following along in an orderly fashion – except for the Materials sector which wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders anyway, but came off the boil completely as the afternoon wore on to finish on -0.08%.
Ioneer (ASX:INR) claimed the title of the largest gain among the larger cap companies, up 23.1% after announcing that the US Government has tipped in a staggering sum of money to the Aussie-listed lithium-boron hopeful.
Ioneer is set to receive about $1.1 billion in US taxpayer money to build its Rhyolite Ridge lithium project in Nevada, with the funds representing ‘a significant step towards completing the funding’ for the project.
Once INR meets the agreed upon conditions precedent, the very significant funding from both the DOE loan, and the expected 50% equity investment from Joint Venture partner Sibanye Stillwater are anticipated to fund a substantial part of the preliminary capital expenditure estimate from the latest (revised) plan of operations.
And following on from this morning, Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL) has climbed 7.85% today after revealing a significant bump in trading performance for the first half of FY23, boasting group-wide sales growth of 15% that includes a return to positive figures for its BCF brand, up 7% against a 2% slump for the same period the previous year.
Joining them since this morning were Tech movers MegaPort (ASX:MP1) and Life360 (ASX:360), up 8.5% and 7.4% respectively on no fresh news, and most likely hitching a ride on the broader InfoTech positivity we’ve seen throughout the day.
There’s been a bit to digest over the course of the day, but among the less-expected news items was Australian Pacific Coal (ASX:AQC) CEO and executive chairman David Conry’s abrupt departure from the company, “effective immediately”.
In its announcement to the ASX, AQC revealed that Independent Director Mike Ryan has been appointed as the Interim Chairman – and the rest of the announcement is pretty much AQC talking up how strong its leadership team is, with a very light-touch variant on the old “we thank the former CEO for all his hard work and wish him all the best” palaver.
Nothing directly from Conry himself, though – and not even a nod to the other “sudden departure” tropes of “wanting to spend more time with family” or “looking for a new challenge” or even a hint of being poached by some other mob somewhere else.
But in perhaps the most telling indication that the departure was very much on the “sudden” side of things: according to AQC’s announcement, interim CEO Ayten Saridas is happy to be contacted for enquiries… via what is quite obviously a personal Bigpond email address. #Yikes.
And for fans of airlines that are listed on the ASX, there’s potentially big news. The ABC is reporting that Virgin Australia might be making its way from the concourse to the bourse again, after private equity firm Bain Capital let slip that it’s looking into a potential IPO and re-listing, three years after it de-listed and Bain bought it for $3.5 billion.
“In the coming months we will consider how to best position Virgin Australia for continued growth and long term-prosperity,” Bain says. “Prior to covid, Virgin Australia had a proud history as a public company.”
“While there is currently no set timetable, at some point in the future, if any IPO does happen, Bain Capital would welcome public market investors joining us as shareholders in what is a great Australian company.”
“Bain Capital has made a long-term commitment to support Virgin Australia’s growth and sustainability. It is Bain Capital’s current intention to retain a significant shareholding in a future IPO of Virgin Australia.”
A super-quick state-of-play in Asian markets sees Japan’s Nikkei down 1.25% so far today, while the Hang Seng is up 0.73%, only to be outshone by an uncharacteristically more emphatic move from the markets in Shanghai, up 1.44%.
And a reminder to those of you playing at home that there will be no action from Wall Street tonight, as the US markets are closed to celebrate Martin Luther King Junior Day, so you’ll have to wait another 16 hours or so for the next exciting instalment of “How much lower can Tesla fall?”
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In Small Caps news, Norfolk Metals (ASX:NFL) has revealed that it has drilled into more visual copper at Roger River, with its third drillhole (22RRD-003) “presenting discrete zones of native copper from 102.00m to 137.80m, 159.20m to 182.00m and 212.40m to 263.05m downhole depth in silica + carbonated veins, fine-grained basalt and fracture surfaces”.
Norfolk is trading 21.4% higher this afternoon off the back of that news.
Meanwhile, a REE Discovery at Hines Hill has White Cliff Minerals (ASX:WCN) trading 23.1% higher this afternoon, after the company revealed its maiden aircore drilling program of 49 drill holes has intersected zones up to 1,602ppm TREO (from 8m in drillhole HHAC38), with mineralisation open in all directions.
Joining them since this morning has been Splitit Payments (ASX:SPT), which has climbed an aesthetically pleasing 22.22% to $0.22 a pop on news that it and Alipay have formed a partnership to power the ‘Pay After Delivery’ option for shoppers on AliExpress, a global eCommerce marketplace owned by the Alibaba Group.
And finally Black Cat Syndicate (ASX:BC8) is up 19.7% today after revealing that its Coyote Central deposit is set to be ranked amongst the highest-grade deposits in Australia, at 356,000oz at 14.6g/t gold.
Not only is this a 32% increase from the previous resource, BC8is also basking in a doubling (101%) of higher confidence Indicated resources, which have sufficient information on geology and grade continuity to support mine planning, to 307,000oz at 5.3g/t gold.
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Group 6 Metals (ASX:G6M) has news in from Tasmania’s King Island, with an update on how things are progressing at its wholly owned Dolphin Tungsten Mine – and it’s sounding a little bit like someone’s managed to get all the tractors bogged in a wheel of soft triple-cream brie.
G6M says that while construction of the processing plant at Dolphin continues to “progress well against schedule for completion, commissioning and first production of concentrates in early 2023”, the lead engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor Gekko Systems has flagged that things are going to run over budget.
According to Gekko, there’s something of a laundry list of issues that have cropped up, which “relate to project-specific and market conditions impacting logistics, materials and installation costs, including inflation, shipping and transport, foreign currency exchange rates and labour constraints”.
The end result is that G6M is looking at dropping up to an extra $7.5 million, which is “approximately 14% of the value of the EPC contract it signed with Gekko Systems in November 2021, or 8% of the overall project CAPEX budget.
Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation – however G6M says it’s keen to do the right thing by everyone involved, including extending the closing date for its current share purchase plan until 01 February, 2023, to “afford shareholders who have made an application for shares under the SPP time to amend or withdraw their application”.
Kingsrose Mining (ASX:KRM) – Halt called pending discussions regarding a material acquisition.
Nordic Nickel (ASX:NNL) – Halt requested pending a material announcement.