2021 has been a record year for mining and exploration IPOs. Here are five of the best
In 2019, there were less than 10 mining and exploration IPOs on the ASX.
In 2020, a strong upward price trend in several commodities led to a flurry of listing explorers, including those with gold, silver, and copper assets. About 24 were added to the bourse by the end of the year.
That trend went parabolic in 2021. Buoyed by continued strength in commodity prices and investor sentiment, 77 resources plays have listed so far in 2021 – a multi-year record — with a bunch more to come before the end of the year.
The best performers have been connected to the burgeoning clean energy thematic. That includes anything battery metals, critical minerals, or uranium.
Overall, 47 stocks have gone up, 28 have gone down, and 2 haven’t moved.
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KUNIKO (ASX:KNI) +843%
In late August, Norway focused base and battery metals explorer Kuniko (ASX:KNI) stormed onto the ASX boards with a 325% first day gain.
The ‘zero carbon’ Vulcan Energy (ASX:VUL) spin-off then went on to notch up a remarkable 1,260% gain to month’s end, before paring some of those crazy gains.
The stock subsequently addressed its use of a paid investor relations services provider and knowledge of various “meme stock promoters” in response to an ASX query, but punters are still waiting on the ‘dump’ part on this possible pump and dump.
That’s probably because KNI is sitting on some genuinely exciting ground.
Its flagship ‘Skuterud’ cobalt project, for example, includes the historically significant Skuterud mine, thought to represent one of the world’s oldest mined cobalt deposits.
It was successfully mined for cobalt from 1773–1898, and at the time was both the world’s largest cobalt producer and the largest company in Norway, KNI says.
92ENERGY (ASX:92E) +255%
Uranium stocks – from near term miner to newly minted explorers – have been standouts in 2021.
With sentiment flying, newly listed 92E chose the perfect time to make a discovery.
On September 20 the company announced that a drill hole hit an “extraordinary” 5.5m of 0.12% U3O8 at the ‘Gemini Mineralised Zone’ (GMZ), part of the Gemini project in the Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan.
Gemini is 27km away from McArthur River, one of the largest and highest-grade uranium deposits in the world.
“To identify 5.5m of 0.12% U3O8 on the fourth drill hole of our inaugural drilling program is an extraordinary result for 92 Energy,” 92E managing director Siobhan Lancaster says.
“Importantly, the assays from this drill hole display similarities to other early holes at major Athabasca Basin uranium discoveries, in terms of grade, width, alteration types and intensity, and we look forward to the follow up drilling to determine the extent of the mineralisation.”
Gold focused A8G barely made a ripple when it listed in May. In August, the stock surged after lodging a tenement application in the Mt Peake lithium pegmatite district in Northern Territory.
The ground, which covers over 640sqkm and shares a boundary with Core Lithium’s (ASX:CXO) ‘Anningie’ lithium project, has evolved into a key focus for the company.
“I have been involved in lithium trading since 2016 and I know this space very well,” Australasian Gold managing director Dr Qingtao Zeng says.
“There is great demand for spodumene concentrate and there are currently limited producers in the pipeline. That is where we see the opportunities.
“In the lithium 1.0 boom, we saw new discoveries like Pilgangoora, Mt Holland and Finniss lithium projects.
“Now we are in the era of Lithium 2.0; it is most likely that more discoveries will be made through exploration works in recognised pegmatite districts.”
Balkan, recently spun out of Jadar Resources (ASX:JDR), is focused on the ‘Rekovac’ lithium project in the little-known jurisdiction of Serbia.
The project “has similar geological settings” to Rio Tinto’s world-class Jadar discovery, the company says. A drilling program kicked off in October.
When AR3 listed in July, its ‘Koppamurra’ project in South Australia and Victoria was Australia’s largest prospective ionic clay hosted rare earth element deposit and one of only two exchange-listed opportunities globally – the other belonging to Uganda-based Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR).
IAC deposits – like the ones exploited in southern China — are commonly considered to be some of the cheapest and most readily accessible sources of heavy rare earths.
AR3’s early success prompted several explorers to follow suit.
To date, AR3 has drilled less than 2% of Koppamurra, which has resulted in a JORC 2012 Inferred Mineral Resource of 39.9Mt @ 725ppm TREO at the ‘Red Tail’ and ‘Yellow Tail deposits.
AR3 was due to kick off a follow-up 8,000m air-core drill program in early October.