The first cycle of BHP’s exploration industry version of the TV show “Shark Tank’’ comes to an end next week.
It goes by the funky name of Xplor. It is an on-going six-month program in which junior explorers receive up to $500,000 in cash and lots of BHP advice and expertise to accelerate the process of converting exploration projects with promise into development opportunities in copper and nickel.
The first cohort of seven private and listed explorers was announced back in January and are to gather in Brisbane next week for a gabfest hosted by BHP to determine if the relationship continues on a basis to be negotiated, or whether there is a parting of the ways.
The backdrop for the Xplor gathering is the bigger than big World Mining Congress at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on South Bank from Monday-Thursday. It’s a triennial event being hosted in Australia for the first time since it began in 1958, with 3,000 or so delegates rocking up.
That the CSIRO is the main “host’’ of the congress tells you it is not your average mining conference.
Discussion points are wide-ranging and have more to do with broad issues facing the industry than the share price promote intention of your average mining conference.
Garimpeiro might make his way up to Brisbane nevertheless, firstly to escape the cold snap down south, and secondly to take in NASA’s presentation: Space Mining is Coming, implications for space exploration and terrestrial mining.
Back to BHP’s “Shark Tank’’ meeting with the first cohort of the Xplor program.
It occurred to Garimpeiro back in January when the cohort members were announced that if BHP thought the selected junior companies had projects/concepts of merit worth supporting in their early stage, maybe others should jump aboard.
That was possible with the three ASX-listed juniors in the first cohort – Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT), Nordic Nickel (ASX:NNL), and Kingsrose Mining (ASX:KRM).
Impact is up 75% to 1.4c since, while Nordic and Kingsrose have fallen by 13% and 26% respectively. The gain by Impact more than compensates for the other two, with a mythical portfolio of three up by some 8.5%.
Not bad for a six-month return in what has generally been a tough market for the juniors. And it has to be said, the upside in the projects that BHP identified from the hundreds of Xplor applicants from around the world has been enhanced across all three whether or not the relationship with BHP continues.
Here is a quick update on the three:
Impact (ASX:IPT): The company has a big portfolio which includes high purity alumina and other battery-related commodities. But BHP’s interest was in the company’s copper exploration project at Broken Hill in NSW. Success there would be kind of neat given Broken Hill is where BHP started 140 years ago, not in copper but lead-zinc.
Nordic (ASX:NNL): BHP was attracted to its nickel sulphide exploration work in Finland’s central Lapland greenstone belt. The company said recently that the first sighter holes at the Pulju project have confirmed the “discovery of an extensive nickel sulphide system at the Hotinvaara prospect.’’
Kingsrose (ASX:KRM): Another Nordic explorer that got BHP’s interest up. It is on the hunt for nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group metals in Norway and Finland. A drilling program is about to start at its Rana nickel-copper-cobalt project in Norway.
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