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CleanTech Lithium (CTL), an exploration and development company advancing lithium projects in Chile, announced that the operation of the Company´s pilot plant has commenced and is producing lithium chloride eluate from the Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) process.  CTL said batches of concentrated eluate will be shipped to North America to be converted into battery grade lithium carbonate by a third-party processor. This pilot plant plans to produce significant quantities of battery grade product for evaluation by potential strategic partners, making CTL one of the few companies in the sector to produce pilot scale volumes of battery grade product. The pilot plant positions CTL as a leader in the sector and in Chile, with first eluate production representing a significant milestone for the Company.

Comment: The share price and sentiment towards CTL remains out of kilter, a point underlined by the revelation that the pilot plant is up and running. This is a white smoke above the Vatican milestone for the company.

Poolbeg Pharma (POLB), a biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has received a Notice of Allowance from the US Patent Office in relation to its Immunomodulator II patent application. A Notice of Allowance is a precursor to the expected formal grant of a patent in due course. POLB said this Notice of Allowance is significant for Poolbeg, further strengthening its robust intellectual property for the Company’s exciting POLB 001 therapy and enhancing its value for potential partners. POLB 001 has the potential to make breakthrough cancer immunotherapies more accessible to the patients that need them by enabling safer and broader use of these cancer treatments in an outpatient setting.

Comment: POLB underlines its position as one of the most prospective biotechs around, with a thumbs up from the US. The name of the game for the company remains to build up its IP war chest.

Equals Group (EQLS) said trading in the first quarter of FY-2024 up to 15 March 2024 has continued the strong growth trajectory of FY-2023 with Revenues in the Period reaching £22.2 million, up from £17.4 million in the same period in FY-2023, representing an increase of 28%. In keeping with recent trends, trading has been robust across the business with particularly strong growth from Solutions. On 1 November 2023 EQLS announced that it is conducting a review of the Company’s strategic options and that as part of this process, the Company has contacted a limited number of potential counterparties including Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC, to assess whether such parties could put forward a proposal that would deliver greater value to Equals’ shareholders than pursuing a standalone independent strategy.

Comment: It is normally the case that a strategic review is a negative development. However, in the case of EQLS this is certainly not so, as the company is throwing off cash, and its shares have are 5x in recent years. Nice problem to have.

Strategic Minerals (SML), a profitable producing mineral company, said it was honoured to announce that its 100% owned subsidiary Cornwall Resources Limited has finalised an Exclusivity and Prospecting Agreement with The Duchy of Cornwall that will increase CRL’s footprint in the East Cornwall/Tamar Valley region almost fourfold. SML said this agreement with The Duchy of Cornwall materially strengthens CRL’s mineral rights footprint in the Tamar Valley Mining District by increasing it by a factor of almost four times. Strategic Minerals and CRL are honoured to be trusted to deliver progress in compliance with The Duchy of Cornwall’s strategic objectives.

Comment: One is quite sure that reaching an agreement with the Duchy of Cornwall was a delightful experience for all concerned, and that no fawning was required at any point.

East Star Resources (EST), the Kazakhstan focused copper exploration and resource development company, announce the award of its second copper porphyry exploration licence under the new copper porphyry exploration strategy initially funded through a US$500,000 grant from the BHP Xplor programme. EST said it was delighted to have its second copper porphyry licence granted since the beginning of BHP Xplor programme. This is also the third licence granted to East Star using the newly implemented Kazakh online portal system. This demonstrates that East Star is able to promptly formulate compliant applications for new licences and that the Kazakh ministerial process for granting new applications is working efficiently.

Comment: EST has expanded its Kazakh footprint in a significant way, and it is equally impressive that there is literally a system in place for the award of new licenses in the country, something perhaps others could do with emulating.

Abingdon Health (ABDX), an international lateral flow Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO), announced the launch of Boots’ own-brand, rapid self-tests across the UK and online in partnership with Crest Medical. ABDX said it was delighted to announce the launch of the Boots own-brand Iron and Vitamin D deficiency self-tests in conjunction with its partner Crest Medical. It was proud to offer a comprehensive private label service to retailers covering a broad range of self-tests, including innovative exclusive products from Abingdon’s CDMO customers.

Comment: Perhaps it is the ongoing blowback from the “scamdemic”, but testers like ABDX have perhaps not had the appreciation since then that they perhaps deserve. Ideally today’s Boots news will move the dial for the stock price.

PYX Resources (PYX), the world’s third largest publicly listed zircon producer, announced its first export of ilmenite following receipt of an export licence in March 2024. PYX said that having only just received its export licence in March 2024 after a change in Indonesian law, it was delighted with the speed at which PYX has been able to export its first batch of ilmenite to its customer in Tianjin, China. Ilmenite is the most important ore of titanium, which is used across several industries including power generation, utilities, automotive, and healthcare.

Comment: Now that PYX has actually explained in a RNS what ilmenite it used for, the company could be off to the races. Given that most of the gripes regarding mining companies are surrounding whether they produce or not, PYX should be a breath of fresh air.

Tirupati Graphite (TGR) announced that Mr. Alastair Bath (Executive Director), purchased a total of 400,011 ordinary shares on 19 March 2024 at 4.8p and 4.9p. Subsequent to the purchase, Mr Bath now holds 940,826 shares, representing 0.76% of the issued ordinary shares.

Comment: After the negative momentum for TGR shares in the recent past, the fact that the Executive Director is putting his hands in his pockets is significant. It would not be surprising that under 5p is the low of the year given where the company is in its cycle.

Anpario  (ANP) reported  finals to December showing a stable second half and  report a strong start to the current year. Revenue in 2023 was 6% lower at £31.1m and PBT fell 25% to  £2.8m giving an EPS of 13.5p   for a P/E of  17x, while the dividend was marginal increased to 10.7p so yielding  4.6%. ANP, is an independent manufacturer of natural sustainable animal feed additives for animal health, nutrition, and biosecurity.  There has been reduced demand for its speciality feed additives as costs  pressure on its on-meat protein producers clients, facing weaker consumption. Its biggest region, Asia, suffered the most, as it was also affected outbreaks of avian influenza and African swine fever. Its leading product in India, which is one of the world’s fastest growing agriculture and aquaculture markets, is set to benefit from an enhanced partnership with a large distributor offering more sales opportunities.  Increased volumes, cost reductions and efficiency improvements expected to be fully realised in profitability measures in 2024. There is a healthy balance sheet with net cash of £10.6m after spending £9.2m on buying back shares at 125p. This is sufficient to fund organic growth with continued investment in innovative natural product solutions, and geographic expansion. It is a strategic target to seek earnings enhancing and complementary acquisitions to accelerate growth.

Comment: At 230p the Mkt Cap is £46m the finals show some meat on the recovery, for a company which remains well and truly under the radar.