• Newly signed land access agreements allow NickelSearch to plan its first lithium drill program at the Carlingup project
  • Australian Pacific Coal up ~50% since announcing accelerated restart of the 80% owned Dartbrook mine on Tuesday
  • Firebird inks a “non-binding strategic cooperation agreement” with Chinese firm to develop manganese sulphate plant

Here are the biggest small cap resources winners in early trade, Wednesday March 13.



Newly signed land access agreements (LAA) allow the explorer to apply to the WA Department of Mines (DMIRS) for its first lithium drill program at the Carlingup project.

The LAA with a private landholder covers eight high priority drill targets in proximity to the Quarry, where NIS has picked up spodumene-rich rocks grading up to 5% lithium.

Early surface exploration to date shows “compelling evidence” of a large scale LCT pegmatite system, NIS managing director Nicole Duncan says.

“Our team has completed highly encouraging geological mapping, rock-chip sampling and soil sampling that suggest the possibility of a large LCT system, 10km along the highway from the operating Mt Cattlin lithium mine (Arcadium Lithium (ASX:LTM)),” she says.

Drilling planning is in its final stages, the $7m capped company says.



AQC has gained ~50% since announcing an accelerated restart of the 80% owned Dartbrook mine on Tuesday.

With a debt facility locked in and plenty of available cash, AQC is ordering equipment and starting construction/refurb, with first coal production from the NSW mine pencilled in for mid-2024.

“This is an exciting period for AQC and the Dartbrook mine which is a high quality asset that has been in care and maintenance since 2006,” interim CEO Ayten Saridas says.

“Since we announced the completion of the Dartbrook restart funding package in January, we have focused on moving the project forward on multiple fronts,” she says.

“We have embarked on an accelerated works program to keep the project on track for first coal in mid-2024, which will recover some of the time lost to finalise the funding package, and we aim to substantially enhance production and coal sales from day one.

“Our primary focus will be to bring forward certain ramp-up activities to allow us to commence mining operations in a second panel much earlier than originally planned. We remain confident that this will translate into an increase in production volumes in the project overall.”

While thermal coal prices have improved, met coal prices remain at substantially higher levels, Saridas says.

“With that in mind, we are accelerating the work to determine whether Dartbrook can produce significant volumes of semi-soft coking coal which is currently trading at a significant premium to NEWC spec coal prices.”

NOW READ: This thermal coal hopeful says Asia will drive demand for the fossil fuel for years



FRB has inked a “non-binding strategic cooperation agreement” with a Chinese firm to collaborate on the development of the company’s manganese sulphate plant in Jinshi, Hunan province.

The “non-binding” part means this budding partnership with a subsidiary of CNCEC — responsible for 90% of Chinese chemical engineering projects – is far from locked in, but FRB still reckons the agreement is a significant endorsement.

“China Chemical built and currently maintains the Jinshi Industrial Chemical Park and with our plant to be located in the Jinshi High Tech Industries Development Zone, we have the upmost confidence that the end product will be of the highest quality,” managing director Pete Allen says.

“We are making excellent progress in China and forming partnerships with industry leaders like China Chemical is a strong endorsement of what we are establishing and validation of our unique LMFP battery strategy.

“We are moving rapidly towards our goal of becoming a near-term, low-cost high-purity manganese producer and the timing of our growth vision could not be better, with LMFP forecast to be the dominant cathode for electric vehicle batteries and estimated to grow into a >$US20 billion market by 2030.”

A feasibility study is due out between March and May 2024.



Drilling at the small but bonanza grade Golden Crown prospect near Leonora has returned a best-ever hit of 6m at ~24g/t from just 12m depth, including a 1m chunk at 60.55g/t.

So far drilling has pulled up 16 gold intercepts over 5g/t, including seven over 10g/t, including five over 15 g/t, and including three over 30g/t.

The completed campaign was designed to test a shallow exploration target of 42,000-79,000oz of gold at an eyewatering ore grade of 10-15g/t. A maiden resource is now in the works.

Mineralisation also remains open, which means M2M haven’t found the edges yet. More drilling is currently being planned, the company says.

“Golden Crown prospect resource definition drilling results have returned the highest ever assay results within shallow mineralisation, providing an ideal environment for cost effective mining operations,” managing director Trev Dixon says.

“Focused work from our geological team has delivered a breath of new life into this classic old producer from a bygone era.”

Old timers produced more than 1720 high grade ounces (29g/t gold) at Golden Crown at the turn of last century. It was subsequently explored lightly by a handful of listed companies, who announced some good drill hits but did nothing with them.

Their loss is M2M’s gain. The $5m capped stock is up 70% over the past month.