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ASX listed Energio and Oro Verde lead successful transition into resources sector

Saturday, March 17, 2012 by Angela Kean

The lure of the high demand and high potential profit of the resources sector in Australia remains strong, with many ASX listed companies either making the leap to become a resources play, or diversifying with strategic stakes in resources projects.

The lure of the high demand and high potential profit of the resources sector in Australia remains strong, with many ASX listed companies either making the leap to become a resources play, or diversifying with strategic stakes in resources projects.

Energio (ASX: EIO) and Oro Verde (ASX: OVL) are just two examples of companies that have made a successful transition into the still booming resources sector.

Energio began its life as a toy and gaming business for some years before it evolved into an iron ore explorer.

The attractive investment opportunity and the steep increase in the price of iron ore were drivers too great to ignore.

This week the company re-listed on the ASX, hitting the boards at the opening bell on Thursday and trading as high as $0.25 on the exchange of 3.2 million shares.

Importantly, Energio has secured itself a strong iron ore project in Nigeria with an exploration target of 1-2 billion tonnes of iron ore at a minimum of 30% iron.

What is interesting about the Agbaja Project is it continues to exceed Energio’s expectations, with results coming in higher than the initial target range of 48-53% iron, indicating the strong potential for the presence of direct shipping ore.

The Agbaja licences contain magnetite in banded iron formation, along with rich oolitic deposits, with rock chip samples within the project area returning grades of up to 55% iron.

These high grade iron rock chip results are well supported by drilling, which has also returned grades of up to 55% iron.

The project is located in the Kogi State, an iron ore rich region with abundant existing reliable infrastructure, such as sealed roads and highways and rail links to the Port of Warri, and also home to the largest iron and steel factory in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Oro Verde, in its former life, was a software and services company named Ezenet.

The company re-listed on the ASX on Friday February 3 as a gold and copper focused explorer operating in Chile.

Again, this is a company with strong projects. Among its portfolio of highly prospective bulk tonnage projects is Chuminga, which has an exploration target of 50 to 60 million tonnes of between 1% and 1.1% copper, 0.3 to 0.4 grams per tonne (g/t) gold and 0.5 to 1% zinc.

Chuminga is located in a region that hosts several world class copper mines such as Mantos Blancos, Chuquicamata and BHP Billiton’s (ASX: BHP) Escondida.

Oro Verde also wholly owns the Vega Project located on the El Indio gold belt, host to a number of large gold mining centres.

So far, about 50 million ounces of gold and 900 million ounces of silver have been discovered in the region.

In the healthcare space there are also a number of companies transitioning or diversifying into the resources sector.

The reason for this is generally the long timeframe it takes to get products to market and the large financial outlay to get them there.

Some companies will diversify to secure another means of potential cashflow during the development phase, while others will just opt out of the sector altogether and usually head for the cashed-up resources sector.

BPH Energy (ASX: BPH), formerly named BioPharmica, is one example of a company that diversified.

While it changed its name to reflect its investment in unlisted oil and gas company Advent Energy, it is still working to commercialise a portfolio of biomedical technologies, including its infectious disease diagnostic technology BacTrak and Brain Anaesthesia Response (BAR) monitor.

In the meantime the company has invested in Advent Energy because of its attractive portfolio of exploration and near-term production assets both on and offshore Australia.

Advent’s cornerstone project lies off the coast of New South Wales and is estimated to comprise up to 13.2 trillion cubic feet of prospective recoverable gas.

The attraction of Advent and its oil and gas portfolio is the location. All permits are located next to a ready market and available infrastructure, maximising Advent’s ability to optimise any resources.

BPH Energy is also still advancing its biotechnology interests, with investee company Cortical Dynamics announcing on Thursday it had recruited its first patient in an Australian clinical trial of its BAR monitor.

It is expected that a total of 20 patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass surgery will be enrolled in the trial.

The primary objective is the validation of the BAR monitor in an operating room setting where the presence of multiple artifacts are known to complicate the EEG assessment of anaesthetic action.

Investors responded well to the news with shares up 13.79% to A$0.03 on Friday.

BioProspect (ASX: BPO) has also diversified into the oil and gas space with its 50% stake in Frontier Gasfields.

Prior to its foray into the resources sector, the company was solely focused on developing products using natural plant extracts for use within the insecticide, termiticide and human health markets.

BioProspect’s biotechnology projects include the AGRIPRO and GI-GUARD range of natural plant extracts for the animal health and nutrition markets, the REGEN range of personal care products and QCIDE natural insecticide.

On the oil and gas side, Frontier Resources has a number of oil and gas assets in the Philippines and China with considerable potential, providing BioPropsect with the opportunity to secure additional cashflow for its natural product development.

Last month Frontier and BioProspect spudded the Nassiping-2 re-entry well at Service Contract 52 onshore Luzon Island, Philippines.

Nassiping-2 is a previously discovered but untested gas discovery with estimated contingent resources of 35 to 350 billion cubic feet of gas.

The target Nassiping Dome is located just 700 metres from the national power grid, giving the SC52 partners the opportunity to commercialise the project by developing a medium-scale gas-fired power plant.

One company that has gone a step further and made the decision to completely transition to the resources sector is C @ Limited (ASX: CEO), formerly engaged in supplying wholesale optical frames and lenses to opticians.

In 2010, the company, which will be renamed Draig Resources, announced its intention to seek opportunities in the coal sector.

Late last year the company entered an agreement with Peabody‐Winsway Resources to acquire all of the issued capital in its subsidiary BDBL, which holds eight highly prospective Mongolian coal licences, for $7.87 million.

Importantly, the eight coal licences cover 625 square kilometres in a major emerging coal province. The region is characterised by a number of recent major black coal discoveries on the doorstep of the expanding Chinese steel and energy markets.

A number of the licences are close to existing producing assets and infrastructure with close proximity to major energy markets like China and Russia, which make the economics of this project very favourable.

As part of its technical due diligence on these licences, C @ undertook an exploration drilling program which intersected three coal seams on the Ovorhangay licences. 

Initial raw coal quality tests at both Mongolian and Australian laboratories have confirmed high quality coking properties both near surface and at moderate depth, likely to be enhanced by washing.

All of the licences have had limited exploration but offer considerable potential.

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