Cadence Minerals plc (LON:KDNC) has announced its final results for the year ended 31 December 2021. The full Annual Report and Audited Financial Statements will be made available on the Company’s website at https://www.cadenceminerals.com/ and will be posted to shareholders on the 30 June 2022
I am pleased to present the Company’s Annual Results for the year ended 31 December 2021.
Maintaining a balanced perspective on the macro picture has become increasingly difficult, with unexpected factors such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creating a supply and price squeeze for many commodities. As I review the year and reflect on global events, and again on events more specific to our company outlook, it is remarkable how the macro backdrop has changed in totally unexpected ways. Previously unprecedented levels of economic stimulus have now been overtaken by inflation and interest rate hikes, while the shift towards globalisation has slowed down with the prospect of a localised war in Ukraine becoming more entrenched and widespread.
On behalf of the Board of Directors (Board) and management, I would like to thank all of our advisors, consultants and service providers and especially our shareholders for their support throughout the year. The Board and company have resumed pre pandemic work schedules and trips to visit site and project operational hubs, along with viewing potential investment opportunities and attending industry conferences. The opportunity to travel freely, to reconnect with people in person and to see projects in transition has truly been a highlight.
Our portfolio companies have continued to progress and have in many cases delivered landmark achievements. In no order of priority, the Board congratulates Macarthur Minerals on completing the Bankable Feasibility Study and moving significantly closer to operational success. European Metal Holdings has painstakingly continued to complete reviews and studies that highlight its low carbon footprint while it evolves into the largest hard rock lithium producer in Europe. As I have already stated, we continue to look for opportunities to unlock and discover value across our whole portfolio. Given the increased underlying prices of Lithium and Rare Earths we expect to be able to take advantage of these opportunities in the coming year. Recent announcements from the current Mexican Government over potentially controlling the nation’s domestic Lithium supply have in no way put paid to our hopes that Bacanora’s JV with Gangfeng will prove to be a success.
Of course, the highlight of the year was the formalising and successful settlement of the ‘pending’ investment into the Company’s flagship Iron Ore Project at Amapa, Brazil. This process triggered the release of escrow funds to realise our investment, which then became a physical manifestation of the same when Iron Ore shipments commenced from the Stockpile at the Port of Santana. I write this after returning from a truly inspirational visit to see the project operations, and after viewing the port, railway and mine assets in Macapa (the Amapa system). Our investment there has also precipitated a transformation in the area’s infrastructure, which will in time make a difference to the standard of living for the local people. Although this process has only just begun, early findings from our commissioned studies and reports are increasingly positive, giving the Board every confidence that our investment there will be a great and lasting success.
On a practical level, challenges still persist today, with global disruption to shipping and freight rates, along with increased costs associated with the capital and equipment required to bring projects into production. While Cadence is not alone in facing these challenges, your Board firmly believes we remain well positioned in the underlying commodity markets that reflect the Cadence portfolio. China continues to be the dominant focus of so much global supply and demand analysis, and with the prolonged lockdowns many commentators have expressed concern about economic expansion in the region. Initial analysis still suggests that economic stimulus and infrastructure spending will continue, and this, together with the Biden $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed in November, will help sustain steel demand and therefore continue to support the demand for Iron ore, a key focus for Cadence.
As the impact of the pandemic begins to recede, we face new challenges of higher interest rates and inflation. For Cadence, sustained higher commodity prices especially those of Lithium and Iron Ore has remained one of the great positives across our portfolio, and together with the successful settlement and initial investment into the Amapa project, your Board believes we continue to be well placed to meet these challenges, both present and future.
In closing, I would like to personally thank my fellow Board members, staff and partners in the wider Cadence Community and of course all Shareholders for their continued encouragement and confidence in the Company.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S COMMENTARY
I am pleased to present Annual Results for the year ended 31 December 2021, a full review of business activities during the year is provided within the Strategic Report.
The results presented for the period ended 31 December 2021 reflect a historical position in terms of the Company’s progress and financial position, therefore we have included additional information on key post-year-end events in the Strategic Report.
Cadence has continued to pursue its strategic objectives despite the continued volatility in 2021 because we think that assets that are undervalued, de-risked, or have strategic advantages will outperform their peers in the long run. This plan yielded fruit in 2021, with the Company continuing to report profitable returns on its public investments and significant operation progress being made across its core investments.
The relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, combined with the implementation of mass vaccination programmes and significant levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus by many governments around the world, resulted in a rapid resurgence of global economic activity in 2021: the IMF estimates 5.9 percent global growth for the year. The magnitude of this economic recovery was most pronounced in Europe and the United States, where, after contractions of 6.3 percent and 3.4 percent in 2020, annual growth rates of 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively, returned in 2021. Such rapid economic expansion was also observed in major emerging markets, with China growing by 8 percent and India growing by 9.5 percent.
However, the pace of recovery slowed in the second half of the year. Higher inflation emerged as part of the recovery, exacerbated by persistent pandemic-induced bottlenecks in global supply chains. Domestic inflationary pressures, currency movements, and the prospect of further US monetary tightening have necessitated more significant monetary policy responses in some emerging markets, including Brazil, where interest rates have been raised by 500 basis points since August in an effort to stem the tide of capital outflows, which has pushed the economy into recession
The impact of the various global fiscal stimuli has meant that the mining industry is facing the consequences of global commodity cost inflation, which is causing supply chain disruptions, consumer inflation, and large variations in energy costs and capital costs.
Overall, a progressive recovery from Covid-19 has resulted in positive demand growth, with supply gradually adjusting to match this increasing demand. This has proven beneficial in practically all of the exploration and development assets Cadence has invested in, in particular lithium and iron ore. Which by the end of the year had increased by 485% and 47% respectively in price.
Iron Ore tracked economic progress and were affected by geopolitical shifts throughout the year. Global crude steel production is expected to have climbed by 4.3 percent in 2021, setting a new high. Europe and the Americas experienced the most rapid increase. In China, the world’s largest steel producer, output reached a new high in May before declining economic mood and a faltering real estate sector weighed on output. Iron ore prices reached a new high in May, fuelled by China’s robust growth earlier in the year, to which supply struggled to respond. Prices averaged $160/tonne for the entire year, the highest level since 2011.
The buoyancy of the lithium price has been driven by the market tightening as the electric vehicle revolution accelerates. Demand has eroded the oversupply seen in 2019 and 2020. This market tightness is projected to persist, with Credit Suisse predicting that lithium demand might triple by 2025 from current levels, and that supply would be stretched to meet that demand, with higher prices required to incentivise the necessary supply response
As a result of this substantial shift in consumer behaviour, demand for lithium is expected to climb by 30 percent to 675,000 tonnes LCE in 2023, up from 2021 levels. Global battery consumption is predicted to climb 14-fold by 2030, with Statista projecting 1.8 million tonnes of lithium demand by 2030.
Despite the strong market fundamentals, lithium production is expected to be 441,000 tonnes LCE in 2021, down from 464,000 tonnes in 2020. However, lithium output is predicted to increase at a 13.4 percent CAGR to 679,000 tonnes in 2023. According to Macquarie, the deficit this year will be 2,900 tonnes of LCE, rising to 20,200 tonnes in 2022 and 61,000 tonnes in 2023.
Our portfolio has been focused on two main investments, and the first is the private Amapa Iron Ore Project. The key outstanding item for Cadence to complete its initial US$2.5 million (20%) investment in the Amapa Project was the execution of a settlement agreement with the secured bank creditors. This was achieved at the end of the year, with Cadence vesting its 20% in February 2022 and subsequently increasing its stake to 27% in March 2022.
DEV Mineração S.A’s (“DEV”) the owner of the Amapa Project also began shipping of its 58% iron ore stockpiles during the years it shipped some 143,000 wet tonnes. The majority net proceeds of these sales is being paid to the secured bank creditors as part of the settlement agreement.
Operationally DEV progress has been solid, with DEV continuing to invest in the project with the priorities on the completion of a Pre-feasibility Study (‘PFS’) and the rehabilitation of the tailings dams at the Amapa Iron Ore Mine.
As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, the opportunity to invest in such a project is rare within our industry, and we believe this project provides us with a potentially transformative asset for our Company. The Amapa Project gives Cadence the potential for an exceptional return on investment in the run-up to full production and an opportunity to become a significant shareholder in a mid-tier iron ore producer.
The second of our key investments is European Metals Holdings (“EMH”), whose strategy is to become a Czech based lithium and tin producer. During the year, EMH’s Cinovec Project has been significantly de-risked and is moving rapidly towards a final investment decision.
The progress and performance of our investment portfolio was well reflected in our share price performance during the year, which increased from around 15 pence to 28 pence. This was clearly driven by the agreement reached with the Amapa Iron Project’s secured bank creditors at the end of 2021.
During the year, we saw prices of up to 31 pence, which was driven by an increase in iron ore prices that reached US$220 per tonne in August, but prices then fell to US$90 by November 2021, which was reflected in our share price, which reached 17 pence in October 2022. Cadence’s share price has increased by more than 314 percent over the last two years, representing significant growth.
However, 2022 has been a very different story, with inflationary pressures affecting the entire equity market (the SP 500 is down some 20 percent this year). Cadence’s share price performance in 2022 reflects the performance of our equity investments, such as European Metals Holdings and other higher risk assets. This is despite our portfolio continuing to make solid operational progress and being fundamentally the same investments that drove our share price increases in 2020 and 2021.
During 2022, our priorities on the Amapa Iron Ore Project will be the publication of a maiden Ore Reserve Estimate, followed by the release of a PFS on the project. We will also plan to increase our stake in the asset. In addition, we anticipate that our investment in Lithium Technologies and Lithium Supplies will have listed during 2022, and we are hoping to crystallise some additional value from our other privately held investments.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Cadence team and our investee companies, who have all worked tirelessly to bring the Company and its investment to their current position. We believe that concentrating risk across a few important investments and commodities will pay off.
Chief Executive Officer
As outlined in the section “Our Business and Investment Strategy,” Cadence operates an investment strategy in which we invest in private projects via a private equity model and in public equity. In both investment classes, we take either an active or passive role. We have reported in these segments below.
PRIVATE INVESTMENTS, ACTIVE
The Amapa Iron Ore Project, Brazil
Interest – 20 % at 31/12/2022 increased to 27% by 31/05/2022
The Amapa Project is a large-scale iron open pit ore mine with associated rail, port and beneficiation facilities that commenced operations in December 2007. Production increased to 4.8 Mt and 6.1 Mt of iron ore concentrate product in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Before its sale in 2012, Anglo American valued its 70% stake in the Amapa Project at US$462m (100% US $660m).
In 2019 Cadence entered into a binding investment agreement to invest in and acquire up to 27% in the Amapa iron ore mine, beneficiation plant, railway and private port owned by DEV (“The Agreement”). The Agreement also gave Cadence a first right of refusal to increase its stake to 49%.
To acquire its 27% interest, Cadence will invest US$6 million over two stages in a joint venture company. The first stage is for 20% of the JV, the consideration for which is US$2.5 million. The second stage of investment is for a further 7% of JV for a consideration of US$3.5 million.
Vesting of Equity Interest in the Amapa Project
During the year, the key target for Cadence was to vest its first 20% in the Amapa Project. This required DEV and the investors (Cadence and Indo Sino via our joint venture company) to reach a settlement agreement (“Settlement Agreement”) with the secured bank creditors.
This was achieved on the 29 December 2021, when all the parties entered into a binding Settlement Agreement. The original credit facility provided to DEV by the secured creditors had a principle amount outstanding amount of US$135 million. The Settlement Agreement settles all of the principal amount plus all interest, default interest, outstanding costs and fees (“Settlement Amount”).
As a result of the Settlement Agreement and the Judicial Restructuring Plan approved in August 2019, the total principal amounts owed to the secured and unsecured creditors in classes I to IV of DEV have been reduced from approximately US$231 million to approximately US$103 million or approximately 45% of the original value.
The Settlement Amount will be paid over two years from the effective date of the Settlement Agreement, and it is to be satisfied by the net profits from the sale of DEV’s iron ore stockpiles. The unsecured creditors will be paid from DEV’s free cash flow over a period of nine years. Under the Settlement Agreement, DEV remains the obligor with the Secured Creditors having no recourse of repayment of the Settlement Amount to either Cadence or Indo Sino. The Settlement Agreement will remain secured over all of DEV’s equity and assets.
Although the Settlement Agreement was executed within the year, the required contractual and regulatory documentation was completed post year end and Cadence vested its 20% interest in February 2022 and its 27% in March 2022.
Iron Ore Shipments
During the year the Commercial Court of São Paulo (“the Court”) ruled that DEV could commence the shipment of the iron ore stockpiles situated at DEV’s wholly-owned port in Santana, Amapa, Brazil. DEV was initially to export sufficient iron ore to realise a US$10 million of iron ore (after the deductions of all logistical, regulatory, shipping and sale costs) from the Amapa stockpiles at the port.
By the end of May 2021 DEV had shipped three cargoes totalling approximately 143,500 wet tonnes of 58% sinter feed iron ore. After all costs these sales netted DEV circa US$8 million. In July 2022, the Court permitted the export a further US$10 million of iron ore (after the deductions of all logistical, regulatory, shipping and sale costs). However, with the 58% iron ore pricing decreasing some 40% from May to August 2021 and shipping pricing remaining strong during the period DEV determined that there was a substantial risk to profitably by continuing to ship while shipping prices remained at high levels (US$ 80 – US$90 per wet tonne)
Once the Settlement Agreement had been completed in February 2022, DEV has been free to ship from its stockpiles and is not restricted by the Court permissions outlined above. Subsequent to the year end DEV shipped a further 48,492 wet tonnes of 58% iron ore sinter fines, DEV expect to receive circa US$ 900k for this shipment. Shipping prices have continued to increase during 2022, driven by higher diesel prices and limited availability of vessels. This combined with iron price volatility has meant that DEV is currently not shipping form its stockpiles.
The vast majority of the net proceeds from the sales of the Iron Ore has been paid to the secured bank creditors as part of the Settlement Agreement. The remainder of the funds have been applied to DEV operations.
The operational focus for the year at the Amapa Project has been the start the rehabilitation process of the project. This has primarily focused on tailing dam maintenance. DEV has employed a civil engineer and two geotechnical consulting firms to advance the work programme, including monitoring, geotechnical stability testing and statutory reporting. The end goal is to ensure that the current dams will be suitable for future operations amid Brazil’s more stringent regulatory environment.
In addition, DEV also began early rehabilitation of light infrastructure, the regularising the statutory reporting with the federal mining authority and state environmental authorities.
The other important focus for DEV and Cadence was to start the PFS. This began in 2021 with DEV appointing several internationally accredited engineering and consulting firms to carry out the PFS. At the time of writing The PFS is progressing as expected, with the consulting engineers for the mine operations, ore reserve estimation, metallurgy, processing, infrastructure and shipping having submitted their draft reports.
The PFS contemplates refurbishing and rehabilitating the existing port, rail and plant with modifications being made to the beneficiation plant to achieve a larger portion of 65% iron concentrate (4.9 Mt). The PFS is based on producing 5.3 Mt of iron ore concentrate per annum.
The Amapa Project’s Current Development Plan
The PFS, once complete will outline more fully the development timelines, capital required to achieve the stated project aims. Subsequent to the publication of an economic PFS we expect the DEV will seek to commission a Definitive Study (“DFS”). The DFS is required to seek project debt and equity finance which will be sought once the DFS is complete.
Cadence and its joint venture partners are having early discussions with potential debt providers and corporate financiers, which we will advance once the PFS is complete. On completion of the DFS and securing debt and equity financing project construction will commence.
Lithium Technologies Pty Ltd & Lithium Suppliers Pty Ltd (“LT” & “LS”)
Interest – 31.5% at 31/12/2022 and 31/05/2022
In December 2017, Cadence Minerals announced that it had executed binding investment agreements to acquire up to 100% LT & LS, which was subsequently varied to acquire three prospective assets in Australia that are in regions with proven high-grade lithium mineralisation.
LT and LS, through their subsidiaries, are the holders of two prospective exploration licenses and one exploration application in Australia and a further seven exploration license applications in Argentina.
All of the licenses and applications target prospective hard rock lithium deposits. The most significant of these is the Litchfield lithium prospect, which is contiguous to Core Lithium’s (ASX: CXO) strategic Finniss Lithium Project (JORC compliant ore reserves: 7.4Mt @ 1.3% Li2O)2.
During the year we saw a renewed interest in hard rock lithium projects in Australia. As such we increased our investment to 31.5% into LT & LS which funded operations on the Litchfield exploration license.
Satellite imagery verified the geology along the Litchfield exploration license north-west boundary is comparable to Core Lithium Ground. LT & LS’s geological consultant conducted intensive surface sampling across four target areas within the NW quadrant, taking 657 samples to determine the potential for contiguous mineralisation. The sampled areas mostly comprised metamorphic rocks linked to the Burrell Creek formation – a host rock for the regional occurrences of pegmatites. The samples results were returned in 2022, these results confirmed LT & LS’s view that the areas adjacent to Core Lithium boundary are prospective for lithium pegmatites.
Subsequent to the year end Cadence and the remaining shareholders entered into a conditional sale of 100% of LT and LS. The consideration for LT and LS is up to A$ 21.05 million (£11.82 million). Cadence has 31.5% of LT and LS and would receive up to A$ 6.63 (£3.72 million). The Buyer is a public, unlisted company in Australia (“Buyer”).
The acquisition of LT and LS has several conditions precedent, including the completion of due diligence and the relevant regulatory approval. Assuming this is successful, the Buyer will acquire 100% of LT and LS through a mixture of cash and shares partially paid on completion of the sale of LT and LS and the remainder paid on the achievement of key performance milestones.
The Buyer has committed to spending at least A$4 million on the exploration of Litchfield during the three years post the completion of the sale. Should the milestones not be achieved during this period, the respective consideration will not be payable.
The proceeds received by the Company will be used for reinvestment as per our investment strategy. In relation to the shares received as part of the consideration, the Company will be bound by an escrow agreement with the Buyer as per the regulatory authorities in Australia and will be in the form and substance consistent with the ASX Listing Rules. After the lapse of the escrow arrangement, Cadence will retain or dispose of these shares as per our investment strategy.
PRIVATE INVESTMENTS, PASSIVE
Sonora Lithium Project, Mexico
Interest – 30% at 31/12/2021 and 31/05/2022
Cadence holds an interest in the Sonora Lithium Project via a 30% stake in the joint venture interests in each of Mexalit S.A. de CV (“Mexalit”) and Megalit S.A. de CV (“Megalit”).
Mexalit forms part of the Sonora Lithium Project. The Sonora Lithium Project consists of ten contiguous concessions covering 97,389 hectares. Two of the concessions (La Ventana, La Ventana 1) are owned as of the date 100% by subsidiaries of Gangfeng Lithium Co., Ltd (“Gangfeng”). El Sauz, El Sauz 1, El Sauz 2, Fleur and Fleur 1 concessions are owned by Mexalit S.A. de C.V. (“Mexalit”), which is owned 70% by Gangfeng and 30% by Cadence.
The Sonora Project holds one of the world’s larger lithium resources and benefits from being both high grade and scalable. The polylithionite mineralisation is hosted within shallow dipping sequences, outcropping on the surface. A Mineral Resource estimate was prepared by SRK Consulting (UK) Limited (‘SRK’) in accordance with NI 43-101. The current lithium resources and reserves for the Sonora Lithium Project and the attributable amounts to Cadence are available on our website here: https://www.cadenceminerals.com/projects/sonora-lithium-project/.
A feasibility study report was published in January 2018, which confirmed the positive economics and favourable operating costs of a 35,000 tonnes per annum battery-grade lithium carbonate operation. The feasibility study report estimates a pre-tax project net present value of US$1.253 billion at an 8% discount rate and an Internal Rate of Return of 26.1%, and Life of Mine operating costs of US$3,910/t of lithium carbonate. It should be noted that under the published feasibility study, the concession owned by Mexalit will be mined starting in year 9 of the mine plan cease at the end of the mine life in year 19, and as such, assuming Cadence retains its position, any net realisable economic benefit to Cadence would only accrue at this time.
The full report can be found here: https://www.bacanoralithium.com/pdfs/Bacanora-FS-Technical-Report-25-01-2018.pdf
Summary of Activities
The most significant development for the Sonora Lithium project both during 2021 and 2022, was that Ganfeng completed the acquisition of the Sonora Lithium Project.
Although this does not directly affect the terms of our Joint Venture, having Gangfeng as a partner in the development of this project is highly encouraging , given that Gangfeng’s involvement in the development of the project to date and their extensive experience in the lithium market holding company is the world’s third-largest and China’s largest lithium compounds producer and the world’s largest lithium metals producer in terms of production capacity.
Whilst COVID-19 has impacted the progress on the Sonora Lithium Project, work to complete the front-end engineering design (“FEED”) has continued throughout the period. Ganfeng is currently appointing a Chinese Design Institute to complete the FEED with initial site layouts scheduled for Q2 2022. Ganfeng is continuing to work with its equipment suppliers and, along with the Company, is maintaining its previously advised project delivery schedule with first lithium production in H2 2024.
Rescue and removal of surface vegetation and topsoil in the area required for the construction of the lithium
processing plant have been completed. Plant site location survey, geotechnical, and hydrogeological works
have also been completed. Works to build the construction road and early work camp have commenced. Site works for bulk earthworks are expected to commence in late 2022.
On September 30, 2021, Mexican politicians from the MORENA party tabled a draught bill to reform Mexico’s energy sector, including statements that lithium would be included among the minerals considered strategic for the energy transition and that no new concessions for lithium exploitation by private companies could be granted. Subsequent to the year end the Mexican senate elevated lithium deposits to the category of “strategic minerals”, declaring the exploration, exploitation, and use of lithium to be the exclusive right of the state.
We are constantly examining possible legislative changes and Gangfeng is ensuring that the mineral concessions remain legitimate. It is our current view that the Decree passed by the senate only impacts licenses, concessions or contracts to be granted not already those already granted as is the case for the Sonora Lithium Project. Therefore, at this point we do not believe there is a material impact to our joint venture areas.
Yangibana Project, Australia
Interest – 30% at 31/12/2022 and 31/05/2022
The Yangibana Project is a significant Australian Rare Earths Project, containing substantial Neodymium and Praseodymium resources. The Project currently covers approximately 650 square kilometres. The Project is located in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, some 250 kilometres northeast of Carnarvon.
Cadence holds interests in tenements covering some of the prospective Gifford Creek Ferrocarbonatite Complex. Through wholly-owned subsidiaries, Cadence holds:
· 30% interest in 3 Mining Leases, 6 Exploration Licences, and 2 General Purpose Leases;
· 3 Mining Licenses Include:M09/159,M09/161,M09/163;
· 6 Exploration Licenses Included: E09/1043, E09/1049, E09/1703, E09/1704, E09/1705, E09/1706;
· 2 General Purpose Leases: G09/11, G09/13.
The tenements in which Cadence holds a 30% interest are in joint-venture with Australian listed Hastings Technology Metals (“Hastings”), and Hastings carries all costs up to the decision to commission a bankable feasibility study.
A definitive feasibility study published in 2017, modelled two production scenarios the second of which had included within it 808,000 tonnes of plant feed from one of our joint venture areas (Yangibana) in year 6. This production target and additional production target from the definitive feasibility study indicates that 11% of the plant feed will come from our joint venture area[*].
The economic model contemplated by Hastings assumes Cadence through its subsidiary will participate in the and mining of the deposits held 70% by Hastings and 30% by Cadence. Assuming there is a development of the mine by the joint venture a new Mining Joint Venture Agreement will need to be agreed and put in place to replace the existing joint venture documentation and regulate the arrangements between the participants for the mine development. No costs or revenue ascribed to 30% interest in the deposits held by Cadence were reported in the financial modelling published by Hastings.
Although Hastings Technology Minerals has progressed the development of the Yangibana Rare Earth project, most of this has been in relation to its wholly owned assets, with the only a change being reassessment of our joint venture mineral resources and reserves occurring in July 2021. There was no material difference in the recalculation of our portion of the resource and reserves; an updated summary can be found on our website here: https://www.cadenceminerals.com/projects/yangibana-rare-earth-project-2/.
The public equity investment segment includes both active and passive investments as part of our trading portfolio. The trading portfolio consists of investments in listed mining entities that the board believes possess attractive underlying assets. The focus is to invest in mining companies that are significantly undervalued by the market and where there is substantial upside potential through exploration success and/or the development of mining projects for commercial production. Ultimately, the aim is to make capital gains in the short to medium term. Investments are considered individually based on various criteria and are typically traded on the TSX, ASX, AIM or LSE.
During the period, our public equity investments generated an unrealised profit of £0.57 million (2020: £10.24 million) and a realised gain of £0.59 million (2020: £0.07 million). The majority of these profits were derived from the sale of European Metals Holdings shares. The total unrealised gains on our equity portfolio as at the end of 31 December 2021 was £9.27 million.
As of 31 December 2021, our public equity stakes consisted of the following
|Company||Business Summary||Year ended 31 Dec 2021£,000||Year ended 31 Dec 2020£,000||Cumulative Total Return Since Inception||Active / Passive|
|European Metals Holding Limited||Lithium mine development||11,287||13,426||461%||Active|
|Charger Metals NL||Lithium exploration||342||–||22%||Passive|
|Macarthur Minerals Limited||Iron Ore mine development||181||329||118%||Passive|
|Eagle Mountain Mining Limited||Copper exploration||122||–||-42%||Passive|
|Mont Royal Resources Limited||Gold and Copper exploration||35||–||-6%||Passive|
PUBLIC EQUITY (ACTIVE)
European Metals Holdings Limited (“European Metals”)
Interest – 8.1% at 31/12/2021 and 31/05/2022
Cadence has held an investment in European Metals since June 2015. As of year-end, Cadence held 8.1% in European Metals.
European Metals owns 49% of Geomet s.r.o. with 51% owned by CEZ. CEZ is a significant energy group listed on various European Exchanges. Geomet s.r.o. owns 100% of Cinovec which hosts a globally significant hard-rock lithium deposit with a total Indicated Mineral Resource of 372.4Mt at 0.45% Li2O and 0.04% Sn and an Inferred Mineral Resource of 323.5Mt at 0.39% Li2O and 0.04% Sn containing a combined 7.22 million tonnes Lithium Carbonate Equivalent and 263kt of tin, as reported to ASX on 28 November 2017 (Further Increase in Indicated Resource at Cinovec South).
An initial Probable Ore Reserve of 34.5Mt at 0.65% Li2O and 0.09% Sn reported on 4 July 2017 (Cinovec Maiden Ore Reserve) has been declared to cover the first 20 years’ mining at an output of 22,500tpa of battery-grade lithium carbonate reported on 11 July 2018 (Cinovec Production Modelled to Increase to 22,500tpa of Lithium Carbonate).
This makes Cinovec the largest hard-rock lithium deposit in Europe, the fourth largest non-brine deposit in the world and a globally significant tin resource. In June 2019 EMH completed an updated Preliminary Feasibility Study, conducted by specialist independent consultants, which indicated a return post tax NPV of USD1.108B and a post-tax IRR of 28.8%. Subsequent to the year end, in January 2022 EMH updated the 2019 PFS, which indicated a post tax NPV of US$1.938Bn and a post-tax IRR of 36.3%.
The study confirmed that the Cinovec Project is a potential low operating cost producer of battery grade lithium hydroxide or battery grade lithium carbonate as markets demand. It confirmed the deposit is amenable to bulk underground mining. Metallurgical test-work has produced both battery grade lithium hydroxide and battery grade lithium carbonate in addition to high-grade tin concentrate.
The Definitive Feasibility Study continues, albeit with some minor delays related primarily to Covid-19 and the effect that has had on logistics globally. Whilst the project had no direct Covid-19 related issues at site, moving samples and our people has been problematic at times. We don’t anticipate any escalation in this.
Apart from these delays, we have made steady progress of the Cinovec Project with positive developments in the areas of our locked cycle testwork, permitting advancement and Measured Resource drilling programme.
The Project has been significantly de-risked and at the time of this report is moving rapidly towards a final investment decision.
The Project Company appointed SMS group, a German-based world-leading engineering firm, as the lead engineer for the minerals processing and lithium battery-grade chemicals production at Cinovec. This marks the beginning of the formal Front-End Engineering Design study as the major component of the ongoing Definitive Feasibility Study. This detailed engineering contract, along with advances in permitting and offtake discussions, moves us closer to the development of Europe’s largest hard rock lithium resource for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Total comprehensive income for the year attributable to equity holders was a loss of £0.14m (2020: profit of £7.82m). This decrease in profitability from the previous year of approximately £7.96m is mainly due to the reduced amount of realised and unrealised profits and losses for the year of approximately £1.2m (2020: £10.4m) relating to our share investment portfolio (listed financial investments) held during the period. Administrative expenses were up £0.36m from £1.44m to £1.80m, but foreign exchange gains were up £1.28m from a loss £0.82m to a gain of £0.46m.
Basic negative earnings per share was 0.102p (2020: positive earnings per share of 6.897p).
The net assets of the Group at the end of the period were £22.15 million (2020: £22.09 million). This increase of approximately £0.06m reflects the losses and shares issued in the year.
PRINCIPAL RISKS AND UNCERTAINTIES
Cadence continuously monitors its risk exposures and reports its review to the Board. The Board reviews these risks and focuses on ensuring effective systems of internal financial and non-financial controls are in place and maintained.
The main business risk is considered to be investment risk.
The Company faces external risks that can materially impact or influence the investment environment within which the Company operates and can include changes in commodity prices, and the numerous factors which can influence those changes, including economic recession and investor sentiment and including the current and potential effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commodity prices have an impact on the investment performance and prospects of all our investments. The extent of the impact varies depending on a wide variety of factors but depend largely by where the investment sits on the mineral development curve. The majority of Cadence’s investments sit at the more advanced stage of the development curve. Commodity price risk is pervasive at all stages of the development curve, but other prominent risks such as exploration risk and technical and funding risks at the exploration/development stage, may be considered to be weighted higher earlier in the curve than pure commodity risk which tends to have a greater impact on producers.
The Company’s investments are located in jurisdictions other than the UK and therefore carries with it country risk, regulatory/permitting risk, political risk and environmental risk. Our investments can be at different stages of development and each stage within the mining exploration and development cycle can carry its own risks.
Where possible Cadence seeks to mitigate these risks by structuring its investments in a format which the Board can influence, obtain high level oversight (often at board level) and use legal agreements to provide control mechanisms (often negative control) to protect the Company’s investments. In addition, we seek to further mitigate our risk exposure by obtaining a deep fundamental understanding of an asset, its potential economics, operating and legal environment and its management team, prior to investment.
It should be noted that because the Company does not operate its project investments on a day-to-day basis, there is a risk that the operator does not meet deadlines or budgets; fails to propose or pursue the appropriate strategy; does not adhere to the legal agreements in place or does not provide accurate or sufficient information to Cadence on a timely basis.
The Equity Investment segment of the Company’s investments is exposed to price risk within the market, interest rate changes, liquidity risk and volatility. Although the investment risk within the portfolio is dependent on many factors, the Group’s principal investments at the year-end are in companies with significant iron ore and lithium assets and, to some extent, dependent on the market’s view of these commodities or chemicals and/or the market’s view of the management of the companies in managing those assets. As with our private investment, the Board seeks to mitigate this by obtaining a deep fundamental understanding of an asset and its potential economics; its operating and legal environment and its management team, prior to any investment by Cadence.
All countries carry political risk that can lead to interruption of activity. Politically stable countries can have enhanced environmental and social risks; risks of strikes and changes to taxation; whereas less developed countries can have, in addition, risks associated with changes to the legal framework; civil unrest and government expropriation of assets. The Company has working knowledge of the countries in which the joint venture holds exploration licences, and its local joint venture partner has experienced local operators to assist the Company in its management of its investment in order to help reduce possible political risk.