Shares in Firestone Diamonds PLC (LON:FDI) lost some of their shine in late-afternoon, slipping 4.4% to 0.6p after a processing plant at its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho continued to suffer from a power outage that had knocked it out of commission at the start of the October.
Firestone said that it had decided to initiate contingency measures to restore power to the plant in the coming weeks, including an order for diesel generators that are scheduled to arrive before the end of the month.
However, with power from the local electricity grid not expected to be restored until 1 December, the company said its operating costs were expected to increase due to the need to hire the generators as well as to cover their fuel consumption.
In the risers, Crossword Cybersecurity shot up 10.4% to 458p as it announced a new partnership with Leonardo MW Ltd, the UK wing of Italian defence giant Leonardo-Finmeccanica.
Through the agreement, Leonardo will use Crossword's Rizikon cybersecurity product to help customers assess the security risks in dealing with suppliers across the world.
Leonardo's client list includes governments, defence and infrastructure companies both in the UK and internationally.
The companies also intend to collaborate on bids for “significant contracts across multiple industries” throughout 2020, using Crossword’s Rizikon Assurance and Leonardo's market expertise in integration, cyber and third-party assurance.
1.20pm: Nostra Terra gushes as it leases Mesquite project in Texas
AIM-listed Nostra Terra Oil & Gas Company PLC (LON:NTOG) spurted 4.2% higher to 1.3p in lunchtime trading after a successful outcome of a leasing process for its Mesquite asset in Texas.
The company said it had leased a 160-acre asset with productive oil wells on all sides, which it said provided an “excellent opportunity” for horizontal drilling for which permitting applications were already underway.
Mesquite is located in the Permian Basin, a well-known oil-producing area estimated to contain around 14.9bn barrels of oil.
Another junior oiler, 88 Energy Ltd 9LON:88E) was also on the rise, jumping 12.3% to 0.8p, after it executed a rig contract for the planned Charlie-1 appraisal well which it has envisaged a February 2020 spud date.
The Alaska focussed explorer said in a statement that its agreed farm-out transaction with Premier Oil PLC (LON:PMO) is expected to complete shortly, and, meanwhile, it continues to progress preparations for the Charlie well.
The company blamed the ‘global macroeconomic environment’ and noted its focus on improving profitability as it flagged a 19% decline in revenue to £124.6mln for the first quarter.
According to Renishaw, the structural demand drivers remain intact for end-markets and it said it is in a strong financial position.
The warning was accompanied by a fairly bleak set of first-quarter results which showed adjusted pre-tax profits for the period had fallen to £4.3mln from £32.6mln in the same period last year.
11.30am: Vesuvius blasted as it forecasts earnings hit from weaker steel markets
Steelmaker Vesuvius Plc (LON:VSVS) was scorched in late-morning, sinking 13% to 362.8p, after the group warned that its full-year profits would be lower year-on-year due to weakness in its end markets.
In a trading update, the FTSE 250 firm said that a “challenging market environment” originally highlighted in its first half had continued into the second, and a result trading profits (EBITDA) for the year were expected to be between £180-£190mln, lower than the £197.2mln figure a year ago.
Despite the decline, Vesuvius said it its “positive, long-term fundamentals” remained the same and expected to achieve its target of a 12.5% return on sales, although this was unlikely until the short-term weakness subsided in its end markets.
Meanwhile, shares in the Woodford Patient Capital Trust PLC (LON:WPCT) tumbled 8.4% to 34.5p following news that the Woodford Equity Income fund (WEI), another fund run by its current manager Neil Woodford, is being wound up and its cash returned to investors.
The decision to wind up WEI followed a decision to freeze withdrawals from the fund in June after an extended period of poor performance led to a big rush of redemptions.
However, despite Woodford’s efforts to “reposition” the fund, all the while continuing to charge fees to investors, administrators Link Fund Solutions said it had “not been sufficient to allow reasonable certainty as to when the repositioning would be fully achieved and the Fund could be re-opened”.
The decision to remove Woodford will now pile pressure on WPCT’s chair, Susan Searle, to follow suit.
Seplat is offering 166p per share to acquire the company.
Eland, which produced some 9,948 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the first half of 2019, has recommended the proposal which is pitched at a 28.5% premium to Monday’s closing price of 129.2p.
9.20am: Altyn shines as it unveils 800,000 ounce gold reserve
Shares in Kazakhstan-focused gold miner Altyn PLC (LON:ALTN) were one of the bright spots in early trading after the unveiling of an 800,000 ounce gold reserve at Area 2 of its Teren-Sai project sent the shares 9.1% higher to 0.6p.
In the first competent person’s report for Area 2, Altyn reported proved ore reserves totalling 800,000 ounces of gold alongside probable reserves of 650,000 ounces and an indicated resource of 1.48mln ounces.
The firm now intends to expand the resource estimate at Teren-Sai by exploring another 15 targets at the site.
Also on the rise was Coro Energy PLC (LON:CORO), which jumped 6.7% to 2.8p% as the explorer told investors that the Tambak-2 well was a successful appraisal of the Mako gas field, and, it is now preparing for well testing.
Chief executive James Menzies described it as “a great result”.
The brewer, which has around £1.4bn in net debt, is looking to reduce it by £200mln over the next four years and will raise disposal guidance from £40mln to £70mln in 2020.
The group did also report a 3% increase in turnover for the year ended 8 September to £1.2bn alongside broadly flat earnings (EBITDA) y-o-y and underlying profit before tax of around £101mln, however, this failed to garner any cheer from investors as the shares fell 8.8% to 111.3p.
Proactive news headlines
Brain scan specialist Ixico PLC (LON:IXI) will post its first annual underlying profit since it listed after revenues in its latest year surged 40%.
88 Energy Ltd (LON:88E, ASX:88E) told investors it has executed a rig contract for the planned Charlie-1 appraisal well which has an envisaged February 2020 spud date. The Alaska focussed explorer said in a statement that its agreed farm-out transaction with Premier Oil PLC (LON:PMO) is expected to complete shortly.
Eland Oil & Gas PLC (LON:ELA) has struck a deal to sell the company to Nigeria’s Seplat Petroleum for £382mln (166p per share) in cash. AIM-quoted Eland recommended the proposal which was pitched at a 28.5% premium to Monday’s closing price of 129.2p.
Capital Drilling Limited (LON:CAPD) highlighted a 6.1% increase in quarter-on-quarter revenue as it released its third quarter update and told investors it is trading in-line with expectations. The rig contractor, in a statement, said it is “well on track” to hit full year revenue guidance of US$110mln to US$120mln.
Alba Mineral Resources plc’s (LON:ALBA) Horse Hill stablemate UK Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UKOG) revealed that drilling is now proceeding confidently after a coring programme has identified the “sweet spot” in the Portland reservoir.
Rockfire Resources PLC (LON:ROCK) said it recently completed reprocessing of historical geophysical data from its 100%-owned Plateau Gold Deposit in Queensland, Australia which has highlighted a number of large chargeable responses which will be tested during the group’s current drilling program.
Gold production at Anglo Asian Mining PLC’s (LON:AAZ) Gedabek project in Azerbaijan rose by 3% in the quarter to 30 September 2019 to 20,227 gold equivalent ounces. That took production year-to-date to 60,122 gold equivalent ounces, which was slightly lower than the 61,761 gold equivalent ounces produced in the corresponding period in 2018.
Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has begun drilling at the first of its three targets on the Kalahari Suture Zone in Botswana. The objective of the drilling is to verify the company's geological model, aimed at discovering a Norilsk-style magmatic sulphide ore body.
Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd LON:CGH) has hit more gold in its ongoing drilling campaign at the Tulkubash project in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Tulkubash project will become the company's second operating gold mine, scheduled to commence production in 2021.
Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has unveiled a financing which will see the extension and restructuring of its US$750,000 bridging loan facility of US$750,000 and gross proceeds of approximately £1,500,000 raised through a placing and subscription to provide it with working capital.
A senior member of Verona Pharma PLC’s (LON:VRP, NASDAQ:VRNA) scientific team will expand on symptom data from a phase IIb clinical trial of its inhaled drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
PCG Entertainment PLC (LON:PCGE) said it has raised the funding for working capital requirements and that due diligence period has found "no adverse legal, regulatory or financial materials" in relation to Align Research. PCGE said that non-executive director Robert McDowall has resigned from the board.