Altona Energy PLC – Business Update and Non-Executive Appointment
Altona (NEX: ANR) is pleased to provide an update to shareholders following its transition to the NEX Exchange Growth Market (“NEX”) on 1 February 2019. The Company’s shares have today delisted from trading on AIM and now can only be traded on NEX.
The Company’s Executive Director, Qinfu Zhang and Chi Ma, the Board appointed representative of the Company’s joint venture partner, Sino-Aus Energy Group Ltd, visited London in early February to meet with its UK advisers and certain shareholders.
The main purpose for the visit was to discuss a potential new business opportunity, namely, an investment into a China-based vanadium mining company, as announced in an RNS on 14 January 2019.
Possible Vanadium Mining Investment
The Company continues to evaluate an investment into a significant Chinese vanadium mine, in which Qinfu Zhang is the beneficial owner of 40%, as announced on 14 January 2019. This investment, should it come to fruition, would be through a joint venture agreement and could take many months to reach its conclusion due to the strict laws in China regarding foreign company investments.
The main product of the mine is Vanadium Pentoxide (V2O5) which is currently in very high demand in many industries, including steel strengthening, energy storage in industrial batteries, thermal imaging equipment, nano-fibre applications and as a catalyst in many industrial chemical reactions.
The Board believes that an investment by Altona into such a company represents an excellent opportunity for shareholders. The benefit to the vanadium mining company is that by having a UK-based joint venture partner, it would be able to sell its product outside China where the price of vanadium is currently higher.
The Board is planning a visit to the mine during April.
Arckaringa UCG Project
Altona is committed to the continued investment into its South Australian mining licences, with a longer-term view to execute its Underground Coal Gasification (“UCG”) strategy at Arckaringa. Following the success of its neighbouring mining company, Leigh Creek Energy, which carried out a sygas test burn in October 2018, with the full support of the South Australian government, the Company is confident that it can achieve similar results in the future. The Board is cognisant of the challenges it faces to succeed in this project, having to obtain the necessary Petroleum Exploration Licence (“PEL”) and environmental permits to allow it to commence testing. The Company believes that income generated from the proposed vanadium investment would be instrumental in moving the project forward.
Sino-Aus Energy Group Ltd has reiterated its commitment to the Arckaringa project, where it has promised an investment of approx. AUD$30 million, should the licences be acquired.
Through its wholly owned Australian subsidiary Arckaringa Energy Pty Ltd, Altona holds a 100% interest in three exploration licences covering 1,944 sq. kms in the northern portion of the Permian Arckaringa Basin in South Australia including three coal deposits – Westfield (EL5676), Wintinna (EL5677) and Murloocoppie (EL5678).
Non-Executive Director Appointment
The Company is pleased to announce that Philip Sutherland has rejoined the board as a Non-Executive Director with immediate effect, to look after the Company’s interests in Australia. Mr Sutherland previously had resigned from the board in December 2018, after deciding he did not support the strategic direction the previous management team was taking Altona. Mr Sutherland fully supports the new Board’s decision to reappraise the UCG project in Australia and the possible investment into the vanadium mine in China. Further information on Mr Sutherland, in accordance with paragraph 21, appendix 1 of the NEX Rules, is found at the end of this announcement.
A UK-based Non-Executive Chairman is expected to be appointed in March.
New Financial Team
Altona has appointed Orana Corporate to provide the accounting and finance function for the Company. In addition, Orana have been appointed as the Company Secretary.
The Company, in conjunction with Orana, is performing a thorough review of its historical financial operations during 2018, in order to be compliant with the rigorous corporate governance measures as set out by the various UK authorities, and to ensure it can move forward into 2019 with a clean bill of health. Orana is currently reviewing the Company’s working capital requirements for the next 12 months in conjunction with the Board.
Qinfu Zhang, Executive Director of Altona, commented, “We have a great deal of work to focus on during the year, which we hope will lead to Altona being a profitable and successful company. Whilst we are evaluating the possible vanadium project and continuing our progress in South Australia we wish to reassure shareholders that our focus is also on strong corporate governance and investor communications. Whilst both projects will take a long time to come to fruition, with many issues to overcome, we will provide updates to the market as often as possible.”