Top News

Blackstone Attracts $6.8 million Investment at a Substantial Premium from EcoPro

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) is pleased to announce it has signed a binding share purchase agreement with EcoPro Co. Limited (EcoPro).

Highlights

  • Blackstone Minerals signs binding share purchase agreement with EcoPro;
  • EcoPro’s subsidiary, EcoPro BM, is the world’s second largest nickel-rich cathode materials manufacturer;
  • Placement of 40 million shares at $0.17 per share, representing a 62% premium to Blackstone Minerals’ last traded price;
  • EcoPro and Blackstone partnership to develop a downstream nickel processing facility in northern Vietnam.

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) is pleased to announce it has signed a binding share purchase agreement with EcoPro Co. Limited (EcoPro). EcoPro’s subsidiary, EcoPro BM, is the world’s second largest and Korea’s largest nickel-rich cathode materials manufacturer. The binding share purchase agreement outlines a firm commitment to raise $6.8 million (before costs) through a placement of 40 million fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.17 per share, which represents a 62% premium to Blackstone Minerals’ last traded price. The binding agreement outlines an alliance structure whereby EcoPro and Blackstone Minerals will work in partnership (through an additional investment via a Joint Venture Agreement) to develop a downstream processing facility in association with Blackstone Minerals’ Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in northern Vietnam.

Terms of the Agreement include:

  • Placement of 40 million shares at $0.17 per share, to be issued under the company’s existing placement capacity with shares to be issued and allotted by 16th April 2020.
  • EcoPro to appoint a director to the board of Blackstone Minerals;
  • Blackstone Minerals to exercise the binding option agreement to purchase AMR Nickel Limited’s 90% interest in the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project (see ASX announcement dated 8th May 2019 for full details);
  • EcoPro and Blackstone Minerals to form an alliance whereby the next stage of the partnership will be an additional investment via a Joint Venture Agreement to develop the downstream processing infrastructure project in association with Blackstone Minerals’ Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project, Vietnam.

Harp Capital of Toronto acted as advisor to Blackstone Minerals.

Blackstone Minerals’ Managing Director Scott Williamson commented:

“We are pleased to announce this investment of $6.8m at a premium which strengthens our alliance with EcoPro. Our Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project has the potential to deliver the critical raw materials required for EcoPro’s cathode manufacturing to meet the demand from the imminent electric vehicle (EV) revolution. We look forward to working towards the next stage of our partnership to develop the downstream processing facility in northern Vietnam”.

EcoPro’s Vice President of Strategic Planning Division, Sangwook Park:

“It is very important to secure stable and competitive metal materials in the fast-growing secondary battery and cathode active material business. EcoPro has therefore decided that it is a good time to invest in Blackstone. Based on that, we are looking forward to continuing with our partnership so that we can succeed in a downstream JV in the near future.”

Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project – Next Steps

Blackstone Minerals aims to deliver a maiden resource in Q3, focused initially on the disseminated sulfide (DSS) at Ban Phuc and continues to investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulfide veins (MSV) and DSS deposits. Blackstone Minerals has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study, also to be announced in Q3, will provide details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment. Blackstone Minerals has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry. In addition, Blackstone Minerals will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.

The Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in Vietnam includes an existing modern nickel mine which has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices. Existing infrastructure includes an internationally designed 450ktpa processing plant. Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc. Blackstone Minerals plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility. Blackstone Minerals will conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS targets and continue its maiden drilling campaign. Online readers can click here for footage taken at our Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in January 2020.

About EcoPro

EcoPro is a South Korea-based company engaged in the battery and environment material businesses principally engaged in the manufacture and sale of secondary battery materials. The Company manufactures cathode active materials and precursors used for secondary batteries. The Company also provides environmental materials including sorbents and catalysts, chemical air filters, and greenhouse gas reduction devices, among others. In addition, the Company is engaged in the lithium crushing and processing.

EcoPro BM is a subsidiary of EcoPro, spun off in May 2016. EcoPro BM produces and sells highnickel cathode materials and other products. EcoPro BM is a world-leader in the high-volume cathode material market and currently the world’s second largest and Korea’s largest nickelrich cathode materials manufacturer. EcoPro BM’s major customers include some of the world’s largest battery manufacturers.

For further information please visit the EcoPro website: http://www.ecopro.co.kr/eng

This announcement effectively lifts the trading halt requested on 2 April 2020. The company is not aware of any reason why the ASX would not allow trading to commence immediately. An Appendix 3B for the proposed issue of shares to follow this announcement.

Authorised and approved by the Board of Blackstone Minerals Limited.

For more information, please contact:

Scott Williamson

Managing Director

+61 8 9425 5217

admin@blackstoneminerals.com.au

Nathan Ryan

Investor and Media Enquiries

+61 420 582 887

nathan.ryan@nwrcommunications.com.au

About Blackstone

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX code: BSX) is developing the district scale Ta Khoa Project in Northern Vietnam where the company is drilling out the large-scale Ban Phuc Nickel-PGE deposit. The Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project has existing modern mine infrastructure built to International Standards including a 450ktpa processing plant and permitted mine facilities. Blackstone also owns a large land holding at the Gold Bridge project within the BC porphyry belt in British Columbia, Canada with large scale drill targets prospective for high grade gold– cobalt-copper mineralisation. In Australia, Blackstone is exploring for nickel and gold in the Eastern Goldfields and gold in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Blackstone has a board and management team with a proven track record of mineral discovery and corporate success.

Click here to connect with Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) for an Investor Presentation

Source

BSX:AU
Featured

Highlights: – Former Xstrata plc executive, Mr. Ian Woolsey, has joined Jervois as Group Manager Information Technology – Mr. Woolsey will lead the IT integration of Freeport Cobalt in Finland, Idaho Cobalt Operations in the United States and the São Miguel Paulista nickel-cobalt refinery in Brazil – Mr. Woolsey joins Jervois after more than 10 years with Glencore Xstrata where he led the IT integration of major …

(TheNewswire)

read more Show less

AustralianSuper announces that it acquired 47,534,965 ordinary shares in the capital of Jervois Mining Limited on 27 October 2020 and a further 13,120,773 Shares on 3 December 2020 such that immediately following the second acquisition, AustralianSuper held a total of 108,450,700 of the issued and outstanding Shares in Jervois. The Shares were acquired pursuant to private placements by Jervois to institutional and …

AustralianSuper announces that it acquired 47,534,965 ordinary shares (“Shares”) in the capital of Jervois Mining Limited (ASX: JRV) (TSXV: JRV) (“Jervois”) on 27 October 2020 and a further 13,120,773 Shares on 3 December 2020 such that immediately following the second acquisition, AustralianSuper held a total of 108,450,700 (or approximately 13.71%) of the issued and outstanding Shares in Jervois.

The Shares were acquired pursuant to private placements by Jervois to institutional and sophisticated investors. The average purchase price per Share was AUD0.305/ CAD0.29 for an aggregate total purchase consideration of AUD18.5 million/ CAD17.6 million .

read more Show less

HIGHLIGHTS: -James May becomes Jervois’ CFO after almost 15 years in leadership roles with Rio Tinto -Mr May’s most recent role in Rio Tinto was as Interim Vice President, Sales and Marketing for the Energy & Minerals portfolio, based in Singapore -Mr May was also previously the CFO of Energy Resources of Australia Limited, an ASX-listed uranium miner, majority owned by Rio Tinto -Mr May also worked in various …

(TheNewswire)

read more Show less
Sydney Opera House at night

Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

The global robotics industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent through 2028 according to the Global Industrial Robotics Market Analysis 2020. Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

Broadly speaking, robotics is the design and construction of robots. This can include core automation and production, industrial software, robot technology and integration of robotics. From drones to self-driving cars to toys ― robotics is a growing industry that is beginning to permeate our daily lives.


The distinction between robotics and AI can be a little confusing, but essentially think of robotics like the body and AI like the brain. Both can exist separately, and they are powerful when combined. The goal of a robot is to complete a task faster and more efficiently than a human.

What does the market look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen technology sectors such as robotics accelerate as businesses have faced global challenges. Robotics has been able to help keep spaces safer by replacing humans with robots on factory lines, in eCommerce warehouses or on healthcare frontlines taking temperatures or disinfecting spaces.

What is Australia doing to support the robotics sector?

In early 2020, the Robotics Australia Network was formed to accelerate growth of the domestic robotics industry. The network aims to strengthen global competitiveness and cement Australia as a global leader in robotics.

How does the Australian robotics sector stack up?

According to the International Federation of Robotics, in a ranking of the world's most automated countries it's not even in the top 10. Number one is Singapore, followed by South Korea then Japan.

The investment space for pure robotics companies is relatively small, with greater opportunities to invest in more broader technology, AI and automation stocks.

Who are the big players in robotics stocks?

Robotics stocks in Australia are companies with a strong crossover to other technology sectors like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Vection Technologies (ASX:VR1)
Market Cap AU$77.56 million

Vection is a multinational software company with offices in Western Australia as well as Subiaco and Casalecchio di Reno in Italy. The company uses robotics technology as well as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality, industrial IoT and CAD solutions. The business is split into two sections: IT development and outsourced services. The company also collaborates with Autodesk Technology Centers, the Microsoft Mixed Reality Team and Cisco Systems Italy.

Bill Identity (ASX:BID)

Market Cap AU$52.97 million

Previously known as BidEnergy, Bill Identity is a series of bill management solutions leveraged using robotic process automation, which helps clients increase efficiency. The company serves customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Europe. Bill Identity had a strong year, with total operating revenue growth of 55 percent year-on-year to US$14.6M in FY21.

What are the other ways to invest in robotics?

Another way to get into the robotics sector is investing in robotics exchange traded funds (ETFs), a popular choice that offers exposure to the industry of robotics and artificial intelligence rather than a single company. Two major ETFs in the robotics sector are:

  • BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ)
  • The ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ARCA:ROBO)

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

parliament house in the evening. canberra, australia

Cannabis remains a hot-button issue in Australia, and the country's political parties have diverse opinions. Here's a look at what they think.

Cannabis reform at a national level still seems far off for Australians, but what do each of the country's major political parties think about the drug?

At the time of publication, the Australian federal parliament had members in the House of Representatives from nine political parties, and senators from nine political parties as well.

Let's look at what Australia's four major political parties think about cannabis, followed by a brief overview of the minor parties in power. We'll also run through the cannabis-specific political parties not currently elected.


Australian Liberal Party

The Australian Liberal Party is in power right now, and it has a conservative view on drug policy, including cannabis, which it believes should remain on the illicit and illegal drug list. The party also has policies around deporting drug dealers. Although it has endorsed research on medicinal cannabis through the Therapeutics Goods Association (TGA), it has since removed all references and specific policies regarding cannabis from its platform.

Current Health Minister Greg Hunt has expressed concern over the Australian Capital Territory's decision to legalise cannabis given that it directly conflicts with federal law. He previously told ABC Radio Melbourne that cannabis presents a "significant mental health risk."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joked that he "won't be partaking" in cannabis. He was also unmoved by activists from the Who Are We Hurting campaign who delivered a pound of weed to Kirribilli House on April 20, 2020, and then brought AU$420,000 in crisp green AU$100 bills to Parliament House on the same date in 2021.

Australian Labour Party

The stance from the Australian Labour Party is in support of medicinal cannabis only. Similar to the Australian Liberal Party, there is no public policy mention of cannabis or marijuana in the Australian Labour Party's mandate.

State members in Queensland and New South Wales have publicly called for the decriminalisation of cannabis, with some going so far as to call for legalisation; however, at this stage the official party line isn't pushing for legalising.

The Nationals

Running on a platform that focuses on rural Australian communities and agriculture, the Nationals often rely on more conservative policies. As part of a coalition government with the Australian Liberal Party, the party line for the Nationals is thought to be aligned as "no" to decriminalisation and "no" to legalisation, but "yes" to medicinal cannabis that is heavily regulated through the TGA.

Australian Greens

The Australian Greens have been proudly (and loudly) lobbying for cannabis legalisation for many years as a major policy. The current party line is to legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for recreational use, whilst regulating growth and possession for personal and medicinal use.

Minor parties in the House of Representatives

  • Centre Alliance — Member of Parliament Rebekha Sharkie spoke in support of a medicinal cannabis bill in February 2021 and believes medicinal cannabis should be included in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • Independent — There are no public policies available for members of parliament Helen Haines, Zali Steggall or Andrew Wilkie, although Wilkie was the major push behind legalising hemp as a material and food source in Australia.
  • Katter's Australia Party — Bob Katter is not pro-legalisation, and joked in parliament, "I didn't know marijuana was legal in Canberra and I can now understand why the country has gone to pot."
  • Liberal Party of Queensland — No public policy; presumed to be the same as the Australian Liberal Party and Nationals as they are a coalition.
  • United Australia Party — The party wants a standard on synthetic dangerous drugs, including cannabis.

Minor parties in the Senate

  • Centre Alliance — Senator Stirling Griff voted against expanding medicinal cannabis in 2017. No public policy on record.
  • Country Liberal Party — The party has no public policy on record.
  • Independent — Senator Rex Patrick voted strongly in favour of increased access to medicinal cannabis, but has previously stated that decriminalising cannabis "requires considerable thought and analysis."
  • Jacqui Lambert Network — The party has policies to address the problems facing everyday Tasmanians in accessing medicinal cannabis, and believes it should be a doctor/patient issue and not a political/bureaucratic issue.
  • Pauline Hanson's One Nation — The party has stated, "One Nation upholds the right of Australians to access medical cannabis, that may give them quality of life and life itself." However, it has a history of blocking motions like the 2017 bid to fast-track medicinal cannabis for the terminally ill.

Pro-cannabis parties in Australian politics

There are several smaller pro-cannabis parties; of particular note is the Legalise Cannabis Australia Party. It was first founded as Help End Marijuana Prohibition (known by its clever and catchy acronym HEMP) in 1993 by Nigel Quinlan, who ran under the candidate name Nigel Freemarijuana.

The group, which changed its name to Legalise Cannabis Australia in September 2021, has a number of policies around legalising and regulating cannabis for personal use, industrial use and medicinal use.

A subgroup of Legalise Cannabis Australia is the Legalise Cannabis Queensland Party, which was officially approved by the Australian Electoral Commission in September 2020 and ran in the October 2020 state election. The party garnered 2.2 percent of the vote, the fourth highest overall. The Legalise Cannabis Western Australia Party won two Upper House seats in the 2021 state election.

The Reason Party (formerly the Australian Sex Party) advocates for cannabis to be legalised, regulated and taxed. The party is currently only represented in the Victorian Legislative Council by Fiona Patton and is not represented at a federal level. Patten recently chaired a foundational committee that provided a report on findings and recommendations on cannabis policy to the Victorian parliament.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.