Ortac’s change of name to Arc Minerals Ltd (LON:OTC) was the culmination of a significant chapter in the company’s development, that was first heralded by the appointment of Nick von Schirnding to the board in January of 2017.
Von Schirnding was subsequently elevated to the position of executive chairman in October of that year, and along the way has brought with him new board appointments and a new focus on Africa.
Ortac’s old Slovakian project, which came with a heavy legacy of social issues, will now be divested, while the Misisi gold project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kalaba copper-cobalt project in Zambia move to centre stage.
Arc Minerals has now completed the acquisition of the vehicle that controls Misisi, Casa Mining, and one of von Schirnding’s first moves was to appoint Casa founder Jonathan de Thierry to the Arc board.
He joins recent appointee, Brian McMaster, a long-time colleague of von Schirnding at Garrison Capital, the well-known incubator behind junior miners such as Harvest Minerals (LON:HMI) and Jangada Mines (LON:JAN).
Together, they form a formidable team to take Arc forward to the next stage.
Taking centre stage is the Kalaba copper project in Zambia, control of which Arc has recently consolidated. This project is currently the subject of a 11,000 metre drill campaign, but perhaps more significant for the near-term there is a substantially complete copper-cobalt processing plant on site. First saleable product is expected this year, albeit on a fairly small scale from stockpiles and an initial open pit operation.
Meanwhile, recent work has now boosted the resource at the Akyanga deposit on Misisi in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 3mln ounces of gold at 2.16 grammes per tonne.
This work is being undertaking on a securer footing than the company had hitherto been accustomed to. Whereas during the mining bear market, it sometimes seemed as though Ortac was running on fumes, and raising tiny scraps of cash here and there, von Schirding has brought a whole new dynamic, helped along the way by better markets.
He recently raised money from Scotland's richest woman, and all told his fundraising efforts have a far more institutional flavour to them.
So, the money’s in. The new board’s in place. Progress at Misisi and Kalaba is ongoing.
The market capitalisation is currently just under £30mln, significantly higher than where it was at when von Schirding joined. .