Under the direction of chief executive Roy Pitchford, VAST Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has made big strides forward in recent months.
Indeed, Vast is one of the few junior mining companies around that can actually boast real progress over a difficult year for the sector.
It’s brought not one but two mines into production, Pickstone-Peerless in Zimbabwe and Manaila in Romania.
But the wheel is turning again and Vast has just announced it is to halve its interests in Zimbabwe and focus almost solely on the Eastern Europe country.
Numerous opportunities in Romania
SSCG Africa Holdings (SSA) is acquiring a stake in Vast's Zimbabwe operations in what is described as a strategic investment.
It will stump up US$4mln in cash for 49.99% of the company’s 50% interest in the Pickstone-Peerless gold mine and the Giant gold mine in Zimbabwe; in other words, Vast’s stake in these mines will reduce to 25%.
In addition, SSA will lend US$4mln to Vast. The loan will be repayable in four years’ time and will carry an annual interest rate of 12%.
Proceeds from the transaction will ensure Vast is fully funded to accelerate development of its core Romanian portfolio of polymetallic mining interests.
“By accelerating the development of our assets in Romania, enabling the company to become cash flow positive without the need for additional dilutionary fundraisings, I believe this transaction heralds a new phase of growth for Vast where we have the ability to rebuild shareholder value,” said Roy Pitchford, chief executive of Vast.
"We have been presented with a uniquely exciting opportunity to re-commission numerous high value brownfield mining assets across Romania, and through the application of a fully funded and robust investment strategy.
“Our immediate priority is to expand and develop our current resources in and around the Manaila Polymetallic mine complex and establish one of Europe's largest copper mining projects,” Pitchford said.
Shares in Vast shot up to 0.39p on the day, marking more than a 100% gain since December's announcement of a profit before tax from continuing operations in the six months to the end of September of US$265,000, versus a loss of US$3.62mln in the same period of last year.
Revenue shot up to US$14.12mln from US$1.04mln, reflecting the commissioning of Pickstone-Peerlees and Manaila.
Manaila central to ambitions
At Manaila, as well as copper the miner recently started sales of a zinc concentrate while a second copper flotation line will come on stream this year alongside a gold and silver tailings recovery facility.
Two new prospecting licences in Romania acquired recently will also be able utilise the mine's facilities.
Piciorul Zimbrului and Magura Neagra are both located in the Bistrita-Nasaud county of Romania.
The former is some 19 kilometres (km) away from Manaila, while the latter is 47km away.
Vast will explore these as future potential sources of ore as part of a proposed new metallurgical processing facility at Manaila.