Atlas Iron look to sell Uranium prospect
Despite the move to sell shares in the uranium prospect, Atlas Iron Ltd has stressed that it is committed to iron ore expansion plans, in an attempt to appease fears.
Atlas Iron Executive Director Mark Hancock said in reference to the company's Lake Frome uranium project in South Australia:
“We're not a distressed seller in any possible sales but we have discussions underway with potential parties who are predominantly end user or trading groups.”
Atlas acquired its share in the uranium project, one of its only mine ventures outside Western Australia, when it took over Giralia Resources in 2011. The project isn't identified by the company on its website as part of its expansion plans, which focus on its Mt. Dove, Abydos and Mt. Webber mines, and five others in the Pilbara WA, in addition to its existing Wodinga and Pardoo operations.
Mining companies in Australia are retrenching as iron ore and coal prices hit multi-year lows. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, the world's fourth-largest iron-ore miner, said earlier this week it will cut several hundred jobs and aggressively cut back on spending to expand capacity. That followed BHP Billiton's decision to delay indefinitely a $30 billion plan to expand its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine site in South Australia.
"It's still business as usual, we're aiming to produce 12 million tons by the end of calendar 2013," said Mr. Hancock in an interview on the sidelines of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australian Investment Conference in New York. The company's Mt. Dove and Abydos mines in Australia will collectively account for 10 million tons of annual production and Mt. Webber is expected to contribute the rest.
"We'll keep an eye on trends and won't ignore what's going on around us, but we think the current projects we're putting in place still make sense to push on with," said Mr. Hancock, adding that Atlas's smaller-scale investments can be sped up or slowed down on a case-by-case basis if required.
The price of iron ore has fallen sharply in recent months as Chinese steel mills have run down inventories of the raw material. The commodity's price fell to its lowest price since October 2009 Wednesday, at US$86.70 a dry metric ton. It trades down almost 40% year-to-date.
"Any price below $100 feels difficult to me and I expect to see it back above that in the fairly near term," said Mr. Hancock. "There hasn't been a Fukushima-type event that makes you think it's going to make it hard for the sector," Mr. Hancock said, adding that certainty over the Chinese political situation and early views from leaders would be a catalyst for a lift in the iron ore price. China is due to change its leadership in October.
But Mr. Hancock concedes that if demand from Chinese steel mills doesn't rebound near-term then Atlas will be forced to tap debt markets if it's to maintain current spending plans. Beijing has accelerated plans for new infrastructure projects by local governments, a move that could boost steel demand, part of a range of measure to jump-start growth, which slowed to a more-than-three-year-low of 7.6% in the second quarter. China is Australia's largest customer for iron ore.
"We'd certainly look to supplement cash flows with debt facilities, it's a prudent back up to have if pricing stays low," Mr. Hancock said. He added lenders weren't using the current iron ore price to assess a company's creditworthiness. "It's slightly more challenging but we believe that over time, we will be able to establish facilities that will give us additional flexibility," he said, adding that Atlas is not planning a capital raising in the near-term, describing the action as unattractive at current share price levels.
Source: Market Watch, The Wall Street Journal
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.