Enter the Dragon: Why these uranium and critical minerals juniors believe 2024 will bring good fortune
A recent Chinese New Year Investor Lunch put together in Sydney by Jane Morgan Management and Tribeca saw eight of the ASX’s most promising explorers explain how their strengths can bring them prosperity in this Year of the Dragon.
Stockhead was there among a large gathering of interested parties hungry for info on promising uranium and critical minerals stocks.
Right off the bat, some encouraging words for uranium investors was delivered by Guy Keller – portfolio manager for the Tribeca Nuclear Energy Opportunities Strategy – a wholesale unit trust that maintains equity positions in a number of ASX and globally listed uranium companies.
“For the Year of the Dragon we wish you ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’, which basically translates to ‘may you enlarge your wealth’. And I think with uranium, this year if you stick with it, you will enlarge your wealth,” said Keller, adding the time-honoured caveat: “past performance is not indicative of future results.”
Beyond this, Stockhead absorbed the individual company presentations, learned what’s pushing their various projects forward, caught up with some of the CEOs, and consumed a spring roll or eight (a lucky number in Chinese numerology, don’t you know)…
Northern Territory-focused Litchfield Minerals is gearing up to list on the ASX with a tantalising buffet of uranium and critical minerals exploration assets.
The company aims to become a pioneering critical minerals (copper, uranium, tungsten, manganese) exploration company committed to delivering cost-effective, innovative, and sustainable exploration solutions.
And for Litchfield, its company’s MD Matthew Pustahya noted, that means doing so while minimising environmental impact through responsible practices and the latest tech.
The company’s initial focus is drilling and sampling the historical Mount Doreen project, which has drill-ready copper and uranium targets, located in the Arunta region.
Manganese, base metals and REEs exploration will also start later this year at the Lucy Creek project in the Georgina Basin.
Stockhead asked Pustahya what else puts Litchfield in a position of strength in 2024’s Year of the Dragon and, actually, he clarified it’s specifically the Year of the Wood Dragon, which only comes around once every 60 years and signifies strength, vitality and luck.
“Could Litchfield be a one-in-60-year investment?” he speculated.
“Not only is Litchfield launching a new project on the ASX, but we also have some of the best, globally known, most visionary mining leaders on our board.
“With Peter Eaglen [a former Rio Tinto exec] leading the charge and [mining and geoscience expert] Mark Noppe’s insights into reporting, we are really breathing out fire.”
Strength and vitality covered then, and perhaps there’s an element of the company making its own luck…
“This Year of the Dragon is one in which it’s believed having the courage to face challenges head-on and wisdom to make strategic decisions, can lead to prosperity,” added Pustahya.
“Litchfield has not only the courage to list in a tougher marker but has also priced this IPO extremely sharply, hoping to stimulate the wider IPO market and bring investors at every level some good fortune.”
We asked Peter Batten, the MD of African-focused multi-commodity [primarily uranium and gold] explorer Haranga Resources to tell us how his company’s efforts this year might fit into the Year of the Dragon theming for 2024.
“HAR is starting from a position of strength,” he replied, “with a deposit at Saraya in West Africa that is destined to grow.
“We are actively exploring a 25km long corridor of uranium anomalies that is thriving to be successful. All we need is a little luck or just good management.”
Batten noted in his presentation that the Saraya project boasts an inferred resource of 12.5Mt at 587 parts per million (ppm) U3O8 for 16.1Mlbs of contained uranium, including a potentially open-pittable component with a resource of 13Mlb at 641ppm U3O8.
“It’s the first in uranium anomalism within that corridor. And it’s open in all directions. I believe we can quite easliy grow that resource just by drilling – most of it is above 160m depth.”
That this resource covers just 0.2km2 of the permit area speaks volumes about the potential for exploration to deliver resource growth.
As Stockhead has covered recently, Haranga is using a process of termite mound sampling to get below a blanket of laterite, followed by auger drilling, which has proved successful in determining RC drill targets for follow-up exploration.
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Basin Energy is a pure-play uranium junior explorer with direct exposure to high-grade uranium within the world class uranium mining district of the Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan, Canada.
This brings big competitive advantages to BSN, said MD Peter Moorhouse, who has vast experience in the Australian uranium sector.
Athabasca has been a top three global uranium producer for more than 45 years. Moorhouse noted the company’s flagship operations have strategic location “near world-class high-grade uranium discoveries and mining and processing operations with a constant uranium mining industry for 65 years”.
Also in BSN’s favour, said Moorhouse, is the fact it’s “well funded with 3.4 million in the bank at the end of last quarter. And we’re actively drilling”.
That includes follow-up drilling at the Geikie project (adjacent to 92 Energy’s significant Gemini discovery).
The aim of that drilling is to advance the project’s initial success, exploring for shallow, high-grade, “next-generation”-style uranium mineralisation – “massive structures” – at the site.
These are targets, Moorhouse notes, “within a few kilometres of some of the best uranium deposits in the world”.
Also within close proximity, too are the firm’s highly prospective North Millennium and Marshall projects, the former 40km southwest of Cameco’s flagship McArthur River
Mine (674.9 Mlbs U3O8 at 16.9%) and 7km north of Cameco’s Millennium deposit (104.8 Mlbs U3O8 at 3.76%).
Red-hot uranium explorer and developer Cauldron is now up more than 100% YTD and more than 725% over the past 12 months.
As its CEO Jonathan Fisher mentioned at the investor lunch last week: “What a wild start Cauldron has had to 2024! Clearly we’ve started with strength.
“The tailwinds in the uranium sector are ever strong; however, we continue to outperform the broader uranium sector and we intend to keep doing so,” he added.
Fisher told Stockhead:
“As for some Dragon Year luck, well you always need a bit of luck don’t you. And sometimes it’s funny what you might count as good luck.
“For us, for the case to get ridiculous uranium policy changed in WA, it’s probably good luck that [former WA premier Mark] McGowan quit in surprising fashion last year.
The CXU boss is talking about WA’s ban on new/future uranium mines – a McGowan-era decision.
“And it’s probably good luck that the nickel and lithium prices are falling badly; because mining jobs being under pressure (as well as high uranium prices) creates pressure on the WA government to act.
“That said, I’m not sure I feel comfortable in relishing in other’s misfortune.”
Fisher is particularly proactive at encouraging the debate in WA about what he views as the inevitable change to the state’s uranium policy, having authored a number of articles addressing the subject.
“Clearly, when this happens, it will be a massive value driver for CXU.”
“With the swish of a pen, the government could underwrite the birth of a whole new industry; creating thousands of jobs across not only operations, but exploration and construction, logistics, labs and R&D, finance, and so on.”
“In terms of further prosperity for CXU this year – I think raising money at a premium is a good demonstration of that.”
Cauldron recently entered into a subscription agreement with its major shareholder Parle Investments Pty Ltd to raise $2.025m. The funds will be primarily used to advance the company’s Yanrey uranium project in northern WA.
“We will be doing a fairly large drill campaign this year at Yanrey,” confirmed the CXU CEO. “A lot of it is step-out, low-risk drilling, so I know we are going to hit a lot of uranium.
“But we also have some targets that are farther afield, so a bit of Year of Dragon luck there would be good, too.”
A relatively new name on the scene, MMC is an exploration and development company targeting silver, gold, base metals and lithium.
In his presso, executive director Ray Shorrock focused on the company’s huge new acquisition of the Cerro Bayo silver-gold project in Chile – a big-deal, high-grade, ready-to-operate mine in a premier mining region equipped with more than $150m worth of infrastructure.
“We’ve got all the machinery we need, including our own rigs,” said Shorrock, adding that the project will evolve to become more silver-focused over time and is one of the most exciting acquisitions he’s seen in his 35-odd years in the resources space.
“Silver is one of the most sought-after metals – now on the critical minerals list… what isn’t I suppose,” Shorrock said. “It’s no longer the poor cousin of gold – it’s decoupled from that.”
The Cerro Bayo project is located in the Asyen region in southern Chile and was in production for over 15 years, producing more than 45Moz Ag and 650koz Au.
Shorrock expects the acquisition to transform Mitre into a significant silver-gold exploration company with Cerro Bayo’s existing JORC 2012 Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate standing at 3.82Mt at a grade of 206g/t AgEq for 24.7Moz of contained AgEq, with significant scope for short term resource growth potential.
“The leverage on this stock is quite large, quite significant,” said Shorrock, noting the Cerro Bayo’ project has substantial potential for rapid growth, with extensive known high-grade mineralisation outside the resource across the +300km2 mining claim package, which incorporates Cerro Bayo, and regional districts Cerro Diablo and Los Domos.
Another up and comer to watch, Spinnaker is a pre-IPO uranium-focused explorer in the Northern Territory situated in a newly discovered extension of the highly endowed Westmoreland uranium field, which hosts over 80 known uranium occurrences.
The company is looking to list on the ASX by mid-year, this year, with a $600k capital raise pre-IPO target at 10c, before an ultimate $6 million IPO at 20c.
Spinnaker believes that with uranium on the uptrend, it’s perfect timing.
Regarding the investor luncheon’s Chinese New Year theming, the company’s CEO Wayne Rossiter told Stockhead:
“As for the Year of the Dragon’s strength – that’s reflected for us in our portfolio of high value and high conviction uranium and copper drill targets.
“Prosperity – uranium and copper both should enjoy high prices going forward into very bullish territory.
“And then some good luck – we think we have both scale and good grade potential, so with a little luck we will get both and maybe bonanza grades as well.”
According to Spinnaker, the geological setting of the Westmoreland uranium field has evidence of significant metal endowment and is located on the confluence of three major regional faults – including the Emu fault, which hosts the Glencore owned Macarthur River mine.
Pure-play copper exploration company Cobre has been having a good past 30 days or so, up some 20% in that time period at time of writing.
The company has highly prospective projects in both Botswana and WA, with chief interest in its African operations at present.
Recently, an early stage survey undertaken by Cobre and mid-tier miner Sandfire (ASX:SFR) along the Kalahari Copper Belt (KCB) has dialled in on “priority settings” for potential large scale copper-silver deposits.
The company controls about 5.348km2 of tenements within the KCB, which remains unexplored but is regarded as one of the most prospective areas globally for copper exploration by the US Geological Survey.
Statistically the KCB area certainly has plenty going for it. In its presentation, Cobre refers to “giant deposits – 1/3 of known sediment-hosted copper deposits contain 500,000t of contained copper with grades >1%”.
And the belt has infrastructural advantages, too, with excellent road networks and and ongoing multi-million-dollar projects, including the North-west Transmission Grid Connection aimed at providing power supply to new KCB mines.
Recently, Cobre hit the headlines after it was announced it had been added as one of just six companies (just two are listed on the ASX) selected to take part in the 2024 BHP (ASX:BHP) Xplor cohort.
BHP will provide Cobre with US$500k in non-dilutive funding to push its KCB exploration plans and operations for the course of the Xplor Program period, as well as provide full access to BHP’s expertise and global partnerships.
A critical minerals investor lunch has got to include some lithium right? Loyal Lithium flew the flag at the investor lunch.
It’s a well-structured listed resource exploration company with projects in Tier 1 North American mining jurisdictions in the Northwest Territories, Canada, James Bay Lithium District in Quebec, Canada and Nevada, USA.
The company’s line for the investor presentation was this: “Through the systematic exploration of its projects, the Company aims to delineate JORC compliant resources, creating value for its shareholders.”
During the past quarter, ending December 31, Loyal Lithium executed a fast-tracked maiden drilling program at its highly prospective Trieste project in lithium hotspot James Bay, Canada.
Now, six months on from the initial lithium discovery at Trieste, geological analysis has, according to Loyal Lithium, revealed the potential large scale of the project.
“To date, six spodumene bearing pegmatite dykes have been discovered within a 20km2 “Metasediment Fault Flow Zone”.
The company’s CEO Adam Ritchie:
“It’s been an incredible six months for the Loyal Lithium team and the Trieste Lithium Project. A significant amount of high-quality work has been completed in a very short period of time to provide a full suite of inputs for this geological analysis.”
Ritchie says his team is energised by the work at Trieste and is excited about exposing its true potential in this Year of the Dragon.
At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Litchfield, Basin Energy and Haranga Resources are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.