While Klaus Eckhof has been working closely with penny stock Amani Gold (ASX:ANL) for a while now, the well-known mining personality is stepping up his efforts to turn the struggling explorer around.

Amani, which has a market cap of $7.4m at a share price of 0.2c, has struggled to gain market traction.

In the past year, it has lost over 92 per cent of its value, trading as low as 0.1c. Even though most small caps suffered through the volatile market in the second half of 2018, Amani has been on a downhill slide since late 2016.

In December 2017, Amani named Eckhof as its new part-time director for strategy and business development.

At the start of this year, the company revealed it had appointed Eckhof, a geologist who has developed several projects globally, as an executive director. Just yesterday, Amani announced he had now been named chairman.

“The Chinese which were running the company, as you can see around the share price, they couldn’t relate to the market,” Eckhof told Stockhead.

“And they took the placement at 5c, which was a very good deal for us, but they didn’t know what to do with the Congo assets in general and exploration.

“So I came on last year again, and we couldn’t agree on that step down but this time they probably saw the writing on the wall: if they don’t step down there won’t be any money in Australia or Canada for them and they agreed to step down.

“I’m just trying to turn it around again.”

Amani Gold's (ASX:ANL) share price decline.
Amani Gold’s (ASX:ANL) share price decline.

Eckhof has been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for more than 15 years.

He is probably best known for his previous role as the chairman of DRC-focused explorer AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ), which was very much a market darling during the lithium run.

Eckhof stepped down from AVZ mid-last year.

But he is also the chairman of another DRC focused company, Okapi Resources (ASX:OKR), which has a strategic 8.4 per cent stake in Amani.

‘If we acquire one or two of those ones then we can make it a bigger play, so 5-10 million ounces down the track’

Back in 2003, Eckhof helped build Moto Goldmines up to 11 million ounces and then sold the company to Randgold Resources for $485m.

Not another AVZ, but share price upside?

While Eckhof thinks it might be a little difficult given the current market conditions to replicate the share price success of AVZ, he does see plenty of upside for Amani.

“Naturally I would love to say that that’s the goal. It will take a bit of time,” he said.

“You can see the market went down over the last 12 months quite substantially, so to replicate an AVZ share price will be a lot more difficult in this market, but certainly there is upside there.

“The performance shares are priced at five or six times higher than what the market is, so we still have confidence there that we will get a higher market cap in the near future.”

Amani’s flagship project is the Giro gold project and the plan is to start drilling some of the new targets the company has identified over the past 12 months.

The company also wants to pick up more ground in the north-eastern part of the DRC.

“There is a couple of licences surrounding it which are very prospective,” Eckhof said.

“If we acquire one or two of those ones then we can make it a bigger play, so 5-10 million ounces down the track.”

While Eckhof has stakes in many of the other explorers he is involved with, he does not yet have shares in Amani.

“I will get some performance shares subject to shareholder approval for coming on [as chairman],” he said.

For the moment Eckhof has no plans to buy shares in Amani while he is working on potential project acquisitions.

 

At Stockhead, we tell is like it is. While AVZ Minerals and Okapi Resources are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.
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