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Helium One Global (HE1), the primary helium explorer in Tanzania, announced that it has raised £4.7 million through a placing at a price of 1.5p per share. HE1 said the results that it has achieved from the Itumbula West-1 well, flowing helium to surface in such significant concentrations, have confirmed a globally unique helium producing province.  By moving quickly and finalising this company led placing early on, it has been able to strengthen its working capital position, which will enable it to fully focus on the next phase of the Company’s growth.

Comment: The inability of HE1 shares to remain above 3p, its recent history of aggressive fundraising, and massive liquidity in the stock all meant that today’s placing is no surprise. The only questions some may have is why helium exploration is apparently so expensive, and what kind of returns can be expected versus recent £15m cash calls.

DG Innovate (DGI), the R&D company, announced the transformative acquisition of new equipment to boost operations across its two business lines. The purchase of a jet mill and furnace will enhance development of energy storage products, while a motor pilot production line and 3D manufacturing simulation software will move the Company closer to achieving at-scale manufacturing of its proprietary Pareta® electric drive system, increasing current production from just a handful of devices per year to around 1,000. DGI said the new equipment allow it to move complex processes in-house, bringing it closer to developing higher performance motors and more sustainable batteries. This equipment will decrease turnaround time across R&D and manufacturing, and allow it to develop a market-leading product much faster. This shows growing momentum behind DGI’s technology and our ability to commercialise it at scale.

Comment: With the Tesla factor, and an acceleration in world class newsflow to go with it, the puzzle here at DGI is why the shares have strayed from their recent 0.26p to such an extent?

Creo Medical Group (CREO), the medical device company, provided a trading update for the year ended 31 December 2023, including an overview of its commercial and clinical progress. CREO said it  closed the year with a c. 250% increase in its core technology revenues and with over 80% of the Group revenues now derived from Creo branded products. The final step of miniaturising its Speedboat technology in the form of Speedboat® UltraSlim was launched into the US, EU and now beyond; this significant step has expanded its market access even further, making Speedboat compatible with all routine endoscopes worldwide.

Comment: CREO shares were up 82% last year, a remarkable achievement given the lay of the land of one of the worst year’s for the small cap space. One of the few genuinely successful UK biotechs, Speedboat going mainstream internationally should continue the stock’s bull run.

Yesterday Panthera Resources (PAT), the diversified gold exploration and development company with assets in West Africa and India, announced assay results for follow up Leachwell testing of selected samples from the 2023 drilling programme at the Kalaka Project in Mali. Highlights here included Leachwell analysis of 23 samples from the 2023 Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling programme on the K1A mineralisation target at the Kalaka Project being consistent with previous fire assay results. PAT said these results are an essential milestone to advance the K1A target area as a potential bulk volume, low grade gold development project. At the Bido project in Burkina Faso, the Company has now completed its earn in to hold an 80% interest in the project.

Comment: PAT reminds us that the company is more than just one aiming for a big win in India. Operational progress in Mali could be a company maker down the line as well.

First Class Metals (FCM) the UK listed metals exploration company, announced the results of a mobile metal ion (MMI) soil sampling programme as well as accompanying rock-grab samples on the Company’s Zigzag Property, located in the Seymour-Falcon corridor in northwestern Ontario, Canada. FCM said the results from this combined sampling programme validate the belief by FCM that the ‘Main Zone’; is open along strike for a considerable distance. Furthermore, the strong evidence of a second structure to the south with the possibility of a third structure compels FCM to engage in discussions with the First Nations to initiate the application for an Exploration Permit to be able to fully evaluate these new zones.

Comment: It would appear that FCM’s footprint is expanding by the day, something which should deliver a read across to the shares, as the market is reminded of the disconnect between the market cap, and the ongoing proving up of the company’s assets.

Zinc Media (ZIN) trading update anticipates a record year. For Dec 2023 revenue is set to increase 30% to £40m and this year is starting with the highest level of forward bookings.  It’s organic growth in television revenues in being accelerated by The Edge  acquisition in 2022. A small loss is forecast for 2023 and then a £1m pre-tax profit for 2024.  Zinc Media was commissioned to produce a six-episode US TV series called Top Gun and further series seem likely. There are currently 40 television programmes produced by Zinc companies available to view in the UK, either on terrestrial channels, or subscription TV platforms.  There is £17m of revenue already booked for 2024 and a pipeline of £5m.The net  cash of £4.9m as funds organic growth.

Comment: At 79.5p the market cap is £18m with the potential for much higher margins as the company gains scale. All of this reminds us of the stock market’s ongoing blind spot as far as media companies are concerned, despite the phrase, “content is king.”

Kendrick Resources (KEN), a mineral exploration and development company, announced the delineation of new nickel drill targets at Stormyra based upon positive findings from ground magnetic and electromagnetic surveys conducted at the Company’s Espedalen Nickel Complex. KEN said its preliminary investigations over the Complex have enhanced the Espedalen project and provide clear evidence for the development of an as yet undetermined resource tonnage most likely at cumulative grades exceeding 1% Ni with a significant copper and possibly cobalt by-product.

Comment: KEN is currently rather unfairly one the under the radar Colin Bird stable of companies. This is despite it being right in the box seat as far as its location in Scandinavia, as well as the nickel / copper mix.

Vast Resources (VAST), the AIM-listed mining company, announced the Q4 2023 production report at its Baita Plai Polymetallic Mine in Romania. VAST said the Company has incorporated the results from its ongoing drilling programme that commenced in 2023 into its mine plan. This, together with the acceleration of the underground decline access ramp, is expected to substantially increase productivity through reduced underground haulage times and provide accelerated access to high grades at depth. As a result, the Company expects the overall grade of concentrate produced by the mine to increase and a reduction in grade variability.

Comment: A RNS from VAST that does not include either a fund raise, or some kind of dog ate my homework unforeseen mishap, is a rare event indeed. But this rare combination is what we have today.

African Pioneer (AFP), the exploration and resource development company, announced Permitting and Ore Processing Testwork at its 85% owned Ongombo (copper-gold) Project located within Exclusive Prospecting Licence EPL 5772, 40km NE of the capital city, Windhoek, Khomas Region, Namibia. AFP said it has made good progress on the Ongombo Project with very significant increases to the previous ‘Indicated’ and ‘Inferred’ Mineral Resources and the potential for a ‘starter’ mine using low-cost open-pit methods.

Comment: Increasing mineral resources is of course the name of the game as far as exploration companies like AFP, something which in the wake of today’s news makes the stock’s current position near the floor of the trading range all the more frustrating.