Aeris leads the copper charge as savvy investors look for growth
Aeris Resources delivered fresh proof yesterday that the savvy investor is piling into the next generation of copper growth stocks with a blockbuster $50.4 million capital raising – done within 24 hours and leaving enough demand on the table to drive the company’s stock to a fresh three-year high post-raising.
The Aeris raising, led by Bell Potter and Euroz Hartleys, was priced at 17.5¢ a share. And such was demand that when Aeris (ASX: AIS) returned to trading yesterday morning, after its one-day halt, the stock soared a further 10% to 22.5¢.
“This is an exceptional outcome for Aeris and its shareholders and provides the balance sheet strength to accelerate exploration at both our operations in FY22 while progressing in parallel, life extension project at (the) Tritton (copper mine in NSW),” Aeris’ executive chairman Andre Labuschagne said.
“The strong institutional support for the placement, I believe, is a reflection of not only the transformation of the company over the last 12 months but also an endorsement of our strategy focusing on copper and gold and adding value through organic and acquired growth.”
It was a strong week for copper stocks. Torrens Mining almost doubled while investors are watching St George Mining and Artemis Resources, two of the more exciting explorers in the highly prospective Paterson region in WA’s East Pilbara.
Copper is all the rage but finding the next generation of growth is proving more tricky.
Lithium, cobalt and nickel prices have all enjoyed strong price growth in 2021 but it is copper – the backbone metal of all electrification – that is demanding decade-high prices, with the price of the red metal fetching $US9877 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday, close to its 21st-century high of $US1072.24/t reached last month.
Years of low copper prices and underinvestment in new mines have caused an acute supply squeeze at exactly the time when renewable technology is hitting consumer and industrial markets at scale. Many analysts are predicting a copper supercycle which could see further record-high copper prices for decades to come.
Preparing for its raising, Aeris this week announced outstanding new results from its Constellation discovery at Tritton, which is shaping as a life of mine-extending find.
Geophysical surveys and the latest drill campaign have extended the mineralisation at depth and along strike. All five diamond drill holes of the latest campaign intersected copper sulphides, with two of the holes striking 20m of thick sulphides with visual chalcopyrites.
The company also received positive assay results from the latest round of 22 RC holes, and has another 19 RC holes planned to further test mineralisation along strike. Aeris is awaiting board approval for a further 21 RC holes.
And underpinning the hype in copper was the share price performance of Torrens (ASX: TRN), whose share price jumped about 15¢ this week to 29.5¢ on the back of success at the Elizabeth Creek copper exploration project in South Australia.
Torrens has a 30% interest in Elizabeth Creek, where operator Coda Minerals this week reported strong copper sulphide mineralisation at depth at the Emmie Bluff prospect. Importantly, the type of mineralisation – iron oxide copper gold or IOCG – has excited pundits because it is the sort found in the region – including at BHP’s Oak Dam West and OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper assets.
“This is a tremendous early find at Elizabeth Creek and we’re excited by what further drilling in this major campaign will turn up,” Torrens managing director Steve Shedden said.
“We knew this region had more secrets to uncover when we acquired the licences to Elizabeth Creek in 2015, and it is incredibly exciting to start seeing the true value of this project come to light.”
Back in WA in the State’s most exciting exploration address, St George (ASX: SGQ) has kicked off a maiden drilling program at its Paterson project.
The 10,000m RC drill program is focused on high-priority copper and gold targets generated by magnetic and gravity geophysical surveys.
The company said that the project has never been tested using modern methods and is bounded by ground held by big players including Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto, which is advancing its large Winu copper discovery.
Importantly, the Paterson project complements St George’s flagship Mt Alexander project in the Goldfields, where the drill bit has been turning consistently since January as the company adds to an impressive high-grade nickel-copper sulphide inventory and advances mine development plans.
“Our technical team has worked methodically to establish a number of high-priority exploration targets. These have never been drilled and offer St George an excellent opportunity to deliver a new discovery,” St George executive chairman John Prineas said about the Paterson project.
St George’s shares closed at 8.6¢ while Artemis (ASX: ARV) last traded at 5.9¢, having also flagged significant upcoming newsflow.
Artemis’ 100% owned Paterson Central project surrounds on three side the world-class Havieron copper-gold discovery made by Greatland Gold and now being developed in partnership with Newcrest Mining.
Artemis is waiting for final ground-based heritage clearance before it resumes drilling at Paterson Central and intends to “drill for the entire remainder of 2021 … and we are completely funded to do so and more”.
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