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Argo Blockchain (ARB), a cryptocurrency mining group, announced it has raised, subject to Admission, gross proceeds of £7.8 million ($9.9 million) at a price per share of £0.205. ARB said the net proceeds of the Placing are expected to be used by the Company for working capital, the repayment of indebtedness, and for general corporate purposes.

Comment: Given the way that the shares have tripled peak to trough, it is hardly surprising that we have seen a cash call at ARB. Perhaps the questions now are how much does Bitcoin have to rise, and how much cash does ARB need to get into a comfortable financial position?

Surface Transforms (SCE) are manufacturers of carbon fibre reinforced ceramic automotive brake discs used by high specification cars and EVs. Its trading update for the year end December reported improved sales for Q4 at £3m which is 50% ahead of Q3 as there have been no new technical problems.  The Capital Expenditure loan facility of £13m is in place to complete the installation of £50m p.a. sales capacity by mid-year 2024 and £75m p.a. sales capacity by the end of 2025, to support existing contracts, expected growth and to build manufacturing resilience. SCE’s clients include as Bentley, Maclaren, Ferrari, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Tesla. In November it raised £11m at 10p. The company is ‘capacity constrained and not demand constrained’ as the lifetime value of the existing contracts is £290m and its potentially a £2billion a year market.

Comment: The 11p and £40m Mkt reflects the serial operational disappointments but this update renews hope that it will turn out all right.

NFT Investments plc (AQSE: NFT), a fund specialising in the market for digital assets, announced that the Company is to change its name to Phoenix Digital Assets plc. The Company has unaudited Crypto, Stablecoin and private blockchain assets with a valuation of £47.1 million (4.67p per share) as at 31 December 2023. NFT said its share price of 2.7p represents a 38% discount to its 31 December 2023 unaudited Crypto and Stablecoin valuation and a 42% discount to its 31 December 2023 unaudited Total NAV.

Comment: NFT reminds us with its NAV discounts how poorly the stock market values success and indeed cash. Hopefully, 2024 will be the year that NFT’s valuation phoenix rises from the ashes of the bear market.

EDX Medical Group (AQSE:EDX) which develops innovative digital diagnostic products, announced that Jason Holt, chairman of the Company, has written to shareholders with an update on the Company’s activities. EDX said It is only right to acknowledge that one consequence of our reverse takeover of TECC Capital plc in November 2022 and admission to the Aquis market is that trading in small volumes of the Company shares by legacy shareholders impaired its share price for periods and therefore did not, in the Board’s view, adequately reflect the true value of the Company. It  remains grateful to investors who, at an early stage, embraced the EDX Medical vision created and brought to life by our founder, Professor Sir Chris Evans.

Comment: The recent director buying, and the company’s presence in one of the hottest areas of healthcare with one of its great stars Professor Sir Chris Evans, underlines that once legacy TECC shareholders are mopped up, a steep ascent for the stock should be forthcoming.

Emmerson (EML), which is developing the world class Khemisset Potash Project in Morocco, provides an update on activities during Q4 2023. EML said that while it has been continuing with our lobbying activities, it has limited its technical activities appropriately in order to preserve the Company’s cash for as long as possible, although some important work has been undertaken to examine opportunities for further optimising and enhancing the project economically and more importantly, environmentally. Once it has the ESIA approval, it will be in a position to move forward quickly with fundraising and technical work.

Comment: One can feel that EML is very close to getting the big thumbs up from its very own (Moroccan) Man From Del Monte. It has to be said that at the current share price the risk/reward appears attractive.

Huddled Group (HUD), focused on building a portfolio of e-commerce brands, reported an update on unaudited trading results for the year ending 31 December 2023, along with an update on the Group’s recent acquisition of Discount Dragon and Q4 2023 trading headline numbers. The Group ended the year with £4.2m cash following significant investment in stock, completion of the October off-market buybacks and outflows of circa £1.1m in relation to the Discount Dragon acquisition. HUD said the recent acquisition of Discount Dragon has been an exciting addition to the Group. The current consumer environment is delivering record trading in the discount sector, and it feels that being able to offer great products, including many of the biggest brands, delivered to the customer’s door, at significantly discounted prices is a compelling proposition.

Comment: One can tell why the CEO bought shares in the company in November, when the shares were low and the company still very much under-appreciated. The latest RNS should start to gather momentum for the stock.

Hemogenyx Pharmaceuticals (HEMO), which is developing new therapies and treatments for blood diseases, announced the successful completion of its Process Qualification run of the end-to-end process for the manufacture of HEMO-CAR-T cells. HEMO said it was pleased that it has now completed the necessary PQ run. It is now working hard to re-submit the IND as expeditiously as possible to move forward with clinical trials of HEMO-CAR-T.

Comment: It felt like it had been a while since we had had an update from HEMO, so near to getting over the line with the FDA. Today we find out it is very much still on the case as far as HEMO-CAR-T.

San Leon (SLE), the independent oil and gas company focused on Nigeria, announces that it has continued its dialogue with TRAM to understand the reasons for the delay in delivering funds. To date, no funds have been received by the Company. Although San Leon considers that its contract with TRAM remains valid and in full force and effect, the Board has nevertheless determined that it is prudent to seek an alternative solution should the TRAM investment delays continue.  Over the past weeks the Company has identified and has been in discussions with a new potential financing partner in relation to a potential funding solution that is similar to the investment from TRAM.

Comment: SLE appeared to have pulled out one of the largest rabbits of the hat last year, in terms of its TRAM funding deal. At least it would appear that the TRAM investment may have begat another.

Aterian  (ATN), the critical metal-focused exploration and development company, announced that it has signed a SPA to acquire a controlling 90% interest in Atlantis Metals (Pty) Ltd. AET said this announcement underscores its strategy of responsibly exploring and mining for critical minerals and metals across Africa, a region vital for a successful energy transition. The signing of this SPA, to acquire substantial mineral licence assets in Botswana, further expands its presence on the continent. It perfectly fits its strategy of focusing on the critical metals, copper and lithium, in stable jurisdictions.

Comment: The latest announcement gives the market another chance to fully appreciate ATN, and perhaps more importantly that it may be a tad unfair that the shares are the same price as they were this time last year. Maybe this year the company will do a better job at communicating its plus points in the critical metals space?

Helium One Global (HE1), the primary helium explorer in Tanzania, announced that drilling at the Itumbula West-1 well commenced on 06 January 2024. HE1 said it was delighted to have spudded the Itumbula West-1 well. This prospect demonstrates the potential to yield some positive results and, having the ability to both drill and test a fault play, provides us with every opportunity of giving it the best chance of a successful outcome. It looks forward to making further announcements in due course as we drill, log and test the well.

Comment: While the big reveal in September did not quite work out, HE1 underlines today that it was not a one trick pony, something which it perhaps should have done previously. At least those who went for the recent placing can say that they went in at a rock bottom price with almost all the negatives past and future priced in.

Technology Minerals (TM1), a  company focused on creating a sustainable circular economy for battery metals, announced that it has entered into a £5.0 million convertible bond facility with CLG Capital LLC. TM1 said it was pleased to enter into this facility with CLG and it looks forward to their ongoing support as a long-term funding partner. The fundraise will further strengthen its position and support the Company’s growth during an exciting period.

Comment: It is interesting to see our friends at CLG Capital step up to the plate with such a relatively chunky amount of cash for TM1. This clearly shows significant belief in the company’s industrial scale lithium-ion battery recycling plant, and / or the view that TM1 is undervalued.

DG Innovate (DGI), the advanced research and development company, announced the completion of the first phase of its project to utilise the Company’s Pareta® e-drive in marine applications. DGI said the technology the DGI team has developed is exceptional.  The marine sector is just one addressable market for DGI’s Enhanced Drive Technology, alongside road transport and other applications that it is also focused on.

Comment: It is not only the all-star beefed up board we have to enjoy at DGI, but also the company getting on with capitalizing on its technology. The initial re-rate for the stock still seems to be behind events.

CleanTech Lithium (CTL) announced it has commenced new drilling programme at the Laguna Verde project and outlined planned activity. CTL said it was excited to start off the new year with another active drilling programme at our flagship project, Laguna Verde. The aim of this drilling programme is to upgrade the current JORC resource, converting resources into reserves. This provides a key input into the pre-feasibility study and will inform the environmental impact assessment, all of which will support CTL’s conversations with potential strategic partners. Furthermore, it is expecting results from its DLE test work and first eluate production from its pilot plant in the coming weeks. It is looking forward to a busy and highly productive 2024.

Comment: With a decent chunk of cash raised at the end of the year, we can see CTL driving forward with drilling to upgrade current reserves. This should allow the share price to return to the 40p plus levels seen as recently as the autumn by the end of Q1 2024.

Bens Creek Group (BEN), the owner of a metallurgical coal mine in North America, updated on production for the three-month period to 31 December 2023. The company said it was restricted in production in November and December because of a slowdown in the availability of trains in the quarter, particularly in December, which saw a build-up in inventory to circa 90,000 tons. This was subsequently reduced to less than 60,000 tons following some deliveries being made.  The reduced availability of trains was due to coal handling capacity issues at the Port of Norfolk. To partially address this the Company has been trucking some coal to its customers.

Comment: It is a shame that one factor or another seems to scupper the chances of a decent recovery in BEN shares: either production issues, coal price issues, or currently the availability of trains.