Who Made the Gains? Here are January’s Top 20 ASX miners and explorers
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A great month for ASX stocks in January, and yet only five resources companies made gains of 100% or more.
The ‘Bag Tally’ (+100% gains) is Stockhead’s unscientific measure of resources sentiment in any given month.
Here’s how 2022 panned out.
Wretched stuff in the second half, except for a curiously strong August.
And yet 2023 has started with positive vibes all round.
Gold is up, base metals are up, iron ore is in recovery mode, uranium is threatening a breakout and lithium prices are supposed to be going down but aren’t really.
Honestly, it’s hard to pick a loser besides coal, with prices now pulling back from those heady, record-breaking heights.
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The graphite explorer is all green after returning to trading on the ASX on January 20, up 586% on its pre-suspension price of 0.8c.
LML was placed in bourse purgatory way back in September 2020 because it had no cash, and was doing no exploration.
LML spent 2021 doing mostly nothing, but woke up in 2022 when it received an unsolicited takeover offer from fellow South Australian graphite project developer Quantum Graphite (ASX:QGL).
$167m market cap QML says LML’s Kookaburra Gully project has synergies with its own mothballed, century-old ‘Uley’ graphite mine, one of the largest high-grade natural flake deposits in the world.
The initial all share offer (1 QGL share for every 40 LML Shares held, valuing the company at ~$6m) was rejected by the board and substantial shareholders in the company, but QGL has since extended its offer again for the third time.
Ambitious, because it remains well outside the money.
As at close of trading on 30 January, the implied value of LML shares under the Offer was $0.013 per share.
“Any lower, in fact, and it’d need a jungle-strength support jock to prevent unsightly gravel rash.”
MEI is an explorer with a history of acquiring projects linked with a hot commodity.
First, it was cobalt in 2017, when the price hit record highs. Then, it was gold in 2019, also when prices were hitting record highs.
But nothing compares to the share price spike MEI has enjoyed — 800% and counting — since announcing plans to buy the Caldeira ionic clay rare earths project in Brazil late last year.
And to be fair, MEI isn’t just chasing the next hot thing.
For starters, it was able to sell its Brazilian gold projects for ~US$20m, which funds Caldeira’s $US20m acquisition and subsequent exploration costs.
The purchase price also potentially speaks to its quality, with Barry Fitz saying “the previously privately-owned Caldeira does seem to have something special about it”.
A drilling program at Caldeira is about to kick off and MEI expects to announce a maiden resource estimate in the June quarter.
PMT dual-listed on the ASX late last year, raising $4,200,000 at an issue price of $0.60 per CDI.
It spiked hard on debut, thanks in part to the magic touch of modern lithium legend Ken Brinsden.
Brinsden, who sits on the board as non-exec chair and director, helped turn Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) from a penny dreadful into a $15 billion lithium giant.
It is already living up to the hype, last month unveiling an incredible 156.9m-long drill hit grading 2.12% Li2O from 176m — including 25m of 5.04% Li2O – at the CV5 Pegmatite, part of the Corvette property in Canada.
The ore grade of most hard rock lithium mines around the world ranges between 0.8% and 1.5% Li2O.
“It is hard to find words to adequately describe the impressive nature of the lithium mineralisation in drill hole CV22-083,” says Darren Smith, vice president of Exploration.
“Visual estimates of spodumene abundance may give you a sense, but assays are the true measure and have certainly astounded with this hole.”
It is the widest, highest grade lithium drill intercept returned to date at the CV5 Pegmatite, where mineralisation has been traced over a strike length of at least 2.2km, so far.
This includes a large, high-grade zone at least 250m long. Mineralisation remains open along at both ends and to depth along most of the pegmatite’s length, PMT says.
Smith says a recently commenced winter drill program will continue to probe and delineate this area ahead of an initial mineral resource estimate planned for the first half of 2023.
This junior explorer is up +105% year to date on very strong volumes, thanks to some nearology love.
C1X believes that its nearby Corvette Far East project hosts a “dismembered” section of the same greenstone belt that hosts CV5.
Cosmos intends to start exploration activities at Corvette Far East in the New Year, “with a view to establishing drill targets for a maiden drill program commencing in the Spring”.
Reports are that the mammoth ‘will they or won’t they’ Simandou high grade iron ore project in Guinea, part owned by Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is being developed at pace.
Neighbouring junior AMD surged after its boss Hugh Bresser, a former BHP executive, made comments to that effect in the AFR, attracting a price and volume query from the ASX.
It owns the Simandou North project, where it believes the infrastructure being built by Rio and its Chinese partners could open up the opportunity to develop its own project in the future.
Rio and partners like China’s largest steelmaker Baowu, also a major investor in Australian iron ore mines, need to build a railway line connecting the remote Simandou ranges to a new port at Morebaya.
Arrow pointed to its progress on Simandou North and media coverage after being handed its little speeding ticket.