Broker Turner Pope has said that there is “quite significant potential for an upward reassessment” of the valuation of Alien Metals Ltd (LSE:UFO), after drill results from the Hancock iron ore property in Australia showed clear potential for a direct shipping ore operation.
“With the project potentially firming up as a standalone operation, selected results include 47 metres at 61.5% iron from two metres and 78 metres at 61.2% iron from one metre,” said Turner Pope.
“Having now defined continuous DSO grade iron ore over a strike length of 350 metres at the Sirius Extension alone, once all laboratory results are available management will have sufficient data to calculate a maiden JORC resource for the prospect.”
Indeed, maiden resource estimation work has already commenced and Alien is confident that the current drill spacing is sufficient to enable the delineation of a maiden JORC resource.
“Laboratory results from the second phase of in-fill drilling have further confirmed excellent potential for the Sirius Extension project,” continued Turner Pope.
“Further drilling at the Western Ridges project is presently being planned as a third phase program, with expectation that this further pinpoint drilling will deliver a second, comparable sized resource. As part of this work, management is also planning for surface traverses and sampling of as yet untested parts of the tenement while also considering a further program in new areas where it now has improved access.”
Meanwhile, Alien has engaged specialist mining consultants Mining Plus, a global mining services provider, to deliver a high-level scoping study for the Sirius Extension prospect. Mining Plus has extensive experience with similar DSO grade projects that have recently transitioned from explorer to producer in Western Australia.
“This is expected to provide valuable data as a benchmark for the group,” said Turner Pope, “and is expected to provide robustness to the financial model even at this relatively preliminary stage.”
John Battista, Mining Plus’s Principal Mining Consultant, also sounded a note of enthusiasm. “Based on our conceptual study-level work to date,” he said, “the Hancock project has the potential to be developed into a niche direct-shipping iron ore producer in the heart of the world-famous Pilbara region of Western Australia.”
The company is in a reasonable financial position, according to Turner Pope.
“Alien remains reasonably well capitalised, with sufficient financial resources to provide a working runway beyond the end of 2021,” the broker said.
“Over this period, it is expected to continue to build upon the recent exceptional run of development progress reported across its portfolio of highly prospective base and precious metals exploration projects. These include its 90% controlled high grade Hamersley Iron Ore Project and 100%-owned Elizabeth Hill Silver Project in Western Australia as well as the newly acquired surrounding Exploration Licence, Munni Munni North, while carrying out a maiden drilling programme at its 100%-owned Los Campos and San Celso silver projects in Mexico.”
Previously, Turner Pope has individually assessed each of Alien’s continuing projects and derived a sum-of-parts upside valuation of £82.9mln.
Hamersley dominated in that assessment, contributing some £61.2mln of the total. But since then Alien has successfully increased its holding in the Brockman and Hancock Ranges projects from 51% to 90% through a cash and shares transaction.
Alien’s most obvious albeit more advanced peer, Fenix Resources Limited is presently valued at A$161mln, some way ahead of Alien’s own market capitalisation of around £28mln.