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Macro share price surges on winds of change

Updated: Mar 12

This week’s Bulls N’ Bears top ASX runner is… Macro Metals. Credit: File

A change is as good as a holiday, or so the saying goes.

For an ASX-listed company, change can mean anything from appointing a new managing director, to some fresh faces on the board or adding a couple of exploration licences in highly-prospective areas of the great State of Western Australia.

Or how about all three?

Well, that’s what happened for this week’s Bulls N’ Bears top ASX runner in Macro Metals, which saw its stock jump more than 166 per cent to touch 0.8c from a previous close of 0.3c after it announced a new MD, sweeping board changes and six additional iron ore exploration licences in the Mid West and Pilbara regions of WA.

Incoming Macro boss Simon Rushton is a co-founder and the inaugural managing director of Hedland Mining, a privately-owned junior iron ore producer. He was instrumental in managing the site’s establishment and the start for its mining operations at the Poondano iron ore mine in Port Hedland. He also spent 12 years with big-time lithium major and Bulls N’ Bears’ Osborne Park next-door neighbour, Mineral Resources.

The incoming board has also put its money where its mouth is by subscribing to $1.22 million out of a total $1.35 million placement, which the company says reflects their commitment to the strategy and alignment with generating shareholder value – a well-sung hymn by companies when new board members lock in a bunch of stock.

Then again, it might just be that the board is onto something, as its new iron ore acquisitions have some pretty good neighbours, too.

The Deepdale iron ore project sits next to Rio Tinto’s famous Robe Valley operations and CZR Resources’ Robe Mesa site. The newly-acquired Turner iron ore project is also within shouting distance of Rio’s Turner Syncline mine, while the Mid West W5 iron ore project is along strike from Fenix Resources’ Iron Ridge mine.

We are a parochial bunch here at Bulls N’ Bears, so it is always good to see an explorer lock in a few extra tenements in the West. Plus, iron ore is still the engine room of Pilbara mining – or at least until the lithium operations get going and prices come back.

Rushton says Macro’s Pilbara iron ore assets are a priority, so it could be worth keeping an eye on its upcoming announcements.

Macro Metals managing director Simon Rushton on site at Goldsworthy East. Credit: File

Taking out the silver medal this week (the Olympics are coming up, so there may be some additional athletic-based references in the next few months) is Australian-based biopharmaceutical company Immuron, which jumped more than 136 per cent to touch 17c from a previous close of 7.2c.

Apologies for this one because the announcement that led to the sharp rise was – to be blunt – a bit crap. But certainly not in a bad sense and it may even ultimately help some of the world’s best athletes stay on their track of choice, rather than be locked in the lavatory.

For diarrhoea sufferers looking to benefit from Immuron’s clinical study into the efficacy of its drug Travelan, this announcement was certainly something worth sitting down for.

Alright, all jokes aside, the company’s latest trial proved that Travelan is a step closer to a market release after it proved effective in preventing diarrhoea induced by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC).

Immuron’s second-phase study on 60 patients showed that a single daily dose of Travelan was 36.4 per cent effective in the prevention of moderate-to-severe, ETEC-induced diarrhoea when compared to the placebo group in the study. It was also 66.7 per cent effective against severe diarrhoea compared to the control group.

Management says it will now proceed to hold an end-of-phase-two meeting with the United States Food and Drug Administration to discuss the pivotal third phase registration strategy and planned clinical trials. It will include recommended dosing to support a Biologics License Application (BLA) for Travelan as a prophylactic medicine for “Travelers’ Diarrhoea” – which sounds like an awful condition that can include additional symptoms including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever that develop while abroad or within 10 days of returning from any resource-limited destination.

That’s why this columnist sticks to staying in the great state of WA. It certainly has nothing to do with being chained to a desk filled only with ASX company announcements.

Anyway, good news for Immuron and another fine example of a medtech doing great work for the benefit of others.

This week’s bronze medal goes to Sultan Resources, which also won the gold this week for the “Briefest Announcement with the Biggest Impact on Stock”. Its shares leapt more than 123 per cent to touch 2.9c from a previous close of just 1.3c.

The company’s ASX release that seemed to trigger the rise consisted of a headline, three dot points and three sentences. OK fine, there were a couple of maps and a list of previously-released announcements that related to the news update, but that was it.

If brevity is the soul of wit, then Sultan could be the new Shakespeare. That’s right punters, I know Hamlet...

The briefest of briefs outlined that the company is about to kick off drilling at its Calesi nickel prospect near the town of Kulin in WA’s Wheatbelt region. The target is an electromagnetic (EM) anomaly that was highlighted by a regional airborne EM survey and close-spaced, helicopter-borne EM results.

Sultan says it plans to drill an initial two reverse-circulation (RC) holes to test the prospect.

Seems pretty innocuous, right? Two holes to test for nickel. Drilling is expected to take about five days. That’s pretty standard.

So, what caused the rise in shares, especially as nickel has not exactly been setting the world on fire in recent months? Is it due to the proximity to Kulin?

The town hosts the iconic Kulin bush races every year, which is well worth a visit. The tin horse highway that adorns the roadside is pretty cool and it has a beautiful wildflower season. Not that well known for mineral commodities, though.

Maybe, just maybe, the share price surged because of the potential farm-in and joint venture (JV) partner that is paying for the drill campaign. It is a little company by the name of Rio Tinto Exploration – a subsidiary of a well-known name in the Pilbara region.

Sultan and Rio entered into a farm-in and JV option agreement back in June last year. The deal allows the Rio subsidiary to earn an 80 per cent interest in the tenement around Calesi by spending $2 million within five years.

So, it is probably worth keeping an eye on the results of this initial drill campaign. If the news is good, Sultan may even need five dot points to table the assays.

And just to show that it is never a bad thing to get into bed with the big dogs, we save a special mention for Dynamic Metals, which only just missed out on a podium finish. Its share price jumped more than 93 per cent from a close last week of 16c to reach a high of 31c after it revealed it had inked a landmark $20 million JV agreement with a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of our aforementioned very good neighbours MinRes to sell up to 80 per cent of the lithium rights at its Widgiemooltha project in WA’s Goldfields region.

Under the terms of the deal, MinRes will pay Dynamic an initial $5 million, broken down into an immediate $400,000 sign-on fee, $3.6 million on completion of the transaction and a deferred $1 million payment set for the first day of July next year.

The Widgiemooltha area is emerging as a significant lithium belt, not only with MinRes’ Mt Marion and Bald Hill projects, but also Liontown’s Buldania play that sits about 60km south-east of Mandilla and features an estimated resource of 14.9 million tonnes at 1 per cent lithium oxide.

Widgiemooltha is only about five hours from Kulin, but probably has a bit more street cred when it comes to the resources sector.

Based on the length of Dynamic’s announcement compared to the short sharp release from Sultan, it appears that management is pretty happy with the deal and plans to use the funding to explore its pipeline of additional projects, in addition to keeping an eye on nickel and gold at Widgiemooltha.

So, that means we have seen share price hikes for companies dealing with nickel and lithium – which have hit global headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months – iron ore, the great commodity from a great State, and diarrhoea prevention.

Who says there is no market diversity on the ASX?

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