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88 Energy (88E) advised that it has received US$2.0 million in funds from its Project Phoenix JV partner Burgundy Xploration, LLC as part settlement of the US$3.745 million in unpaid cash calls (represented by US$3,452,967 in relation to outstanding cash calls due plus interest of US$292,505). Burgundy continues to support the progression of the upcoming Hickory-1 flow test program, and it has informed the Company it intends to fund its share of the flow test program.

Comment: It feels like 88E has put its foot down as far as Burgundy is concerned. It remains to be seen whether $2m is enough to move the dial on the share price.

Quiz (QUIZ), Interims to September are reported from this long established omni-channel (online, stores and concessions) woman’s value fashion brand. Not a pretty sight as the 14% fall in Revenue to £42.3m combined with inflation pressure and an inability to pass-on price rises lead to a fall from £1.8m profits to £1.3m losses.  Online revenues fell faster than stores while international fell furthest.  The management have spent £3.4m on expanding its Distribution Centre capacity and on store improvements. The net cash is £3.6m but with Bank facilities in place giving £7.3m headroom. There are 62 stores in the UK and 6 in Ireland with concessions in Middle East. Spain and the US. The company are cautious about any short-term improvement, so the Chairman is undertaking a operational and strategic review to be reported by end of Q1 24.

Comment:  At 7p and a mkt cap of £8.7m the shareholder value is  £20m so although  it’s too early to buy for recovery  it maybe worth considering doing so on further weakness.

Hydrogen Utopia International (HUI), a company specialising in turning non-recyclable mixed waste plastic into hydrogen and other carbon-free fuels, announced that Howard White, executive director of HUI, has purchased 300,000 shares in the Company on 4 December 2023 at an average price of 3.51p. Following this purchase Howard White owns approximately 4.1 % of the Company. Steve Medlicott, non-executive director of HUI, has purchased 300,000 Shares each in the Company on 4 December 2023 at a price of 3.75p.

Comment: Directors are leading from the front at HUI, presumably waiting on the Ohrid throwing off cash early in the new year.

Bens Creek Group (BEN), the owner of a metallurgical coal mine in North America supplying the steel industry, announced that on 5 December 2023 at 10:30am local time (3.30pm UK time) the Company will be hosting a Q&A and Shareholder Day at the Company’s mine in West Virginia. The Company said it, “encourages you to send your questions ahead of the event via the Telegram link:”

Comment: Apart from soaking up the adulation from shareholders, BEN should explain why with production up, and the recent Avani Resources coal sale, the shares are still near the lows. It is all about communication.

Andrada Mining (ATM), an African technology metals mining company with a portfolio of mining and exploration assets in Namibia, announced that it has produced high-grade lithium spodumene concentrate from mineralised pegmatite material sourced from the Lithium Ridge licence area (ML133). ATM said that these results confirm recoverable spodumene within the pegmatites of the Lithium Ridge licence area. The test work produced battery-grade spodumene concentrate at very attractive lithium recoveries. This follows the conclusion of a first phase of exploration drilling on Lithium Ridge which yielded exceptional results as announced on 6 September 2023. Several notable drilling intersections of up to 2.13% Li₂O were reported, and the drilling demonstrated lithium mineralisation along a 6km strike.

Comment: It beggars belief that despite all the progress made at ATM, the share price remains stubbornly fixed at modest levels. The company needs to tweak its messaging to get the appreciation it deserves, especially as it is already one of the more high profile plays in the small cap space.

Great Southern Copper (GSCU), the company focused on copper-gold-lithium exploration in Chile,  announced that it has completed the necessary permitting procedures to commence its proposed scout reverse circulation (RC) drilling programme at Especularita with drilling planned to commence in the first half of December 2023. The company said it was very excited that drilling at Abundante will commence imminently. The scout RC drill holes are targeting high-grade copper mineralisation and are the first step in understanding how the breccia-hosted mineralisation will develop at depth beneath the existing mine workings. The results will provide critical geological, geochemical and structural information necessary for the preparation of follow-up larger-scale drill programmes designed to vector in on potential economic mineralisation.

Comment: One of the stock market’s dark horse plays, which just gets on with the job. One would imagine that 2024 will see this company become better appreciated.

Helium One Global (HE1), the primary helium explorer in Tanzania, provided operational and financing updates. HE1 said the team has worked exceptionally hard to find a resolution to the rig maintenance issues and it is delighted to now be well on the way to completing this, having sourced and mobilised the replacement parts to site so quickly.  The rig upgrade and repairs will provide us with a better platform for future drilling activities. The well results from Tai-3 have enabled us to better understand the established helium system in the Rukwa Basin and it looks forward to being able to utilise these findings and drill the fault play at Itumbula as soon as possible. The Company is advancing discussions with potential investors while also assessing other financing options and is confident of securing additional funding in the near future.

Comment: In many ways it would be better if HE1 just went quiet with its RNS’s until it sorted out equipment issues and funding. At the moment the company is shaping up to be one of the bigger disappointments of 2023, and that is saying something given how bright things looked as recently as the summer.

Chaarat Gold (CGH), the AIM-quoted gold mining company, announced an equity issue package consisting of a placing that has raised, in aggregate, gross proceeds of £1.1 million, and a £0.7 million part conversion of the Labro Investments Limited working capital facility. The company said Chaarat is at a pivotal stage in its evolution, as we approach a Final Investment Decision in the coming months of the Tulkubash project. We believe a low capex, as previously reported, of $104 million and a relatively short 18-month time horizon to first production is a compelling opportunity for investors.

Comment: With a new CEO things seem to be moving at pace for CGH. The recent share price rise, newsflow, and gold price high, all point to a decent recovery for the company – at last.

Rainbow Rare Earths (RBW) announced that it has received confirmation that the DFC will be the sole source of funding for the proposed US$50 million investment by TechMet to acquire a direct equity stake in the Phalaborwa project (the “TechMet Option”. RBW said this approval of funding from the DFC confirms that Phalaborwa offers a strategic source of the four most economically important rare earths that are vital to the green energy transition. Furthermore, Phalaborwa will use its innovative processing technique to take its material all the way through to separated rare earth oxides, unlike most rare earth projects that produce an intermediate mixed rare earth concentrate which is then sent to China for further refinement.

Comment: Once again we are reminded that RBW is a leader amongst its peers, if it has any in its own particular niche. The fact that institutions are effectively throwing money at the company says it all.

ValiRx (VAL), a life science company, announced that ValiSeek Limited, has entered into an exclusive Option Agreement to license VAL401 with Ambrose Healthcare Limited, a private UK specialist pharmaceutical company. VAL said it was delighted to have agreed this path to development of VAL401 with Ambrose Healthcare.  It is looking forward to seeing the project develop under Ambrose Healthcare’s experienced oversight, combining clinical development and commercial experience.

Comment: While few in the market may understand “the science” at VAL, it has been clear that the company has been making decent fundamental moves. The question perhaps is whether and when the numbers will stack up?

Reabold Resources (RBD), the oil & gas investing company, announce that it has been informed that the next tranche of the payment from Shell U.K. Limited for the sale of the entire issued share capital of Corallian Energy Limited, as announced on 1 November 2022, will be distributed to former Corallian shareholders from today. RBD said it was delighted to receive the second tranche of the payment from Shell. The sale of the Victory project last year was a significant moment in Reabold’s history, proving its strategy to create value for shareholders by identifying, funding and monetising underappreciated but strategically important assets. Reabold played a key role in the development of the Victory project, which will be an important asset to the UK as it looks to increase domestic gas supply.

Comment: One would have thought that even though well flagged, the arrival of £5.2m in the kitty should be a decent shot in the arm for RBD, if only given the exceptionally low share price of late.

Condor Gold (CNR) announced that following a robust and economically attractive Bankable Feasibility Study, also known as a Feasibility Study, on the La India open pit, it appointed H&P Advisory Limited (Hannam and Partners) to seek a buyer for the assets of the Company. CNR said wholly owned, fully permitted, construction ready gold mines with potential production of 150,000 oz gold per annum, in major Gold Districts, with the land and a new SAG Mill package purchased and a construction period of only 18 months are rare. To date there are eight companies under NDAs, five non-binding offers received and three site visits completed.

Comment: The gold price at an all time peak, and Hannam on the ticket, should mean that Condor shareholders get the result that they deserve after all the good work done by Mark Child et al.

Synergia Energy (SYN), updated regarding the Cambay Farm Out and funding arrangements. Synergia have been in detailed discussions with a respected Indian operating company with the aim of executing a Letter of Intent to establish a farm-out agreement to facilitate the full field development of the Company’s Cambay field in which the Company currently holds a 100% working interest. SYN said the Cambay Farm Out agreement is an important milestone for the Company and will provide a path to a self-funded full field development and exploitation of the significant (205 BCF P50) gas reserves on the Cambay license.

Comment: It would appear that the waiting game is close to a positive denouement at SYN. However, investors are clearly waiting to see a signature on the dotted line as far as Cambay is concerned.

Yesterday IamFire (AQSE: FIRE) provided an update on progress within its primary portfolio company, WeShop Holdings Limited, showing an increase of 240% in annualised sales figures through the platform for the 3 months ending in November 2023 compared to the 3 months ending in May 2023.  This increase is accompanied by a 52% increase in user numbers, showing strong growth and an increase in spend per customer. The company said 2024 will likely prove to be the seminal year in WeShop’s ambition to gain its own listing and should it do so, IamFire will be in a position to provide our shareholders with a transformational liquidity event.

Comment: FIRE underlines the way that as far as investment companies are concerned at the moment, the market values any holdings as worth de minimis, until the liquidity event. Hopefully, FIRE will wrong foot the prevailing attitude via WeShop in 2024.

Ajax [AJAX], the UK listed special purpose acquisition company with a focus on natural resources, announce that its Chief Executive Officer, Ippolito Cattaneo, has purchased 60,000 ordinary shares of 1 pence each in the capital of the Company. Following these purchases, Mr. Cattaneo holds a total of 10,625,000 Ordinary Shares, equivalent to 22.67% of the issued Ordinary Shares.

Comment: Cattaneo is certainly leading from the front in terms of share buying, something which is all the more significant given that we are looking at a standard list SPAC, with little free float.

Marula Mining (AQSE: MARU), an African focused mining and development company, announced that the Board of Directors has approved its Dividend Policy. Marula will target an annual aggregate dividend payout of between a minimum 30% and up to a maximum of 50% of free cash flow for each calendar year in two half-yearly payments. Payment of any dividend will be subject to maintaining a minimum net cash balance of GBP 10 million and the availability of distributable reserves. MARU said it is looking forward to a transformative year ahead in 2024 with the expanded mining and processing operations at our Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine and production at our Kinusi Copper Mine, and with that in mind, the Board has resolved to approve this new dividend policy.

Comment: One of the excuses for small caps not being a hit in the current environment is that general lack of a dividend. It can be seen that MARU is facing this head on, and should be set to benefit for its bold payout move.

Rockfire Resources (ROCK), the base metal, gold, and critical mineral exploration company, announced that it has applied to the UK Government’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation for the return of the US$2 million consideration which Rockfire paid as the initial consideration for a 10% shareholding in Emirates Gold DMCC and Emperesse Bullion LLC. The Company considers that there is no reason why the Exemption Licence should not be granted but is not able to provide any certainty that an Exemption Licence will ultimately be granted by the OFSI. The Company is not able to provide a timing for a response from the OFSI, but Rockfire will continue to keep the market informed of any progress on this.

Comment: It has been a somewhat puzzling episode for Rockfire, perhaps as much as in Emirates Gold / Emperesse being done in the first place, and now the wait for cashback from OFSI. The company’s Greek assets were the understandable jewel in the crown.