From a low of less than 4.5p twelve months ago, the shares are now trading at a handsome 33.5p, and that’s even after a small amount of ground has been given up from earlier highs hit this month.
That gold has hit US$2,000 in the past couple of weeks has been helpful, of course, and more generally the positive sentiment that has been around in the gold market has provided the conditions in which buyers are prepared to come in.
But there’s more to it than that.
“I think what’s happening is that people are starting to realise that we have a fairly substantial discovery,” says the company’s guiding hand, Professor Richard Conroy.
“They’re realizing that we’ve found a new gold trend and that we’re now going to be getting on with the mine development.”
He’s talking about the company’s long-standing landholding in Ireland, which comprises a resource at the Clontibret prospect as well as some heavy duty upside on the neighbouring ground.
Of course a select group of London investors have always known about the opportunities Conroy has been sitting on in Ireland. But in terms of reaching out to the wider world the Professor sets the real turning point at this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association Conference – held in the nick of time before coronavirus closed in – at which Conroy took a well-attended booth.
“It was only when we opened our booth at PDAC that people began to take it all on board,” he says.
As it happened, at that particular moment there was also a lot of interest around Conroy’s fellow-traveler in the Irish gold scene, Dalradian, so the stage was set.
A few short months later, in spite of the subsequent ravages that have been wreaked on international travel and the wider global economy, Conroy has heads of terms for a joint venture in place. The potential partner? – Anglo Asian Mining (LON:AAZ), a company with a long track record of significant gold production in Azerbaijan, and a corresponding ability to deploy sizeable sums of cash.
Although the deal hasn’t been officially ratified as yet, the Professor clearly regards Anglo Asian as a strong potential partner and is happy with what’s proposed.
“Firstly,” he says, “they’ve done a good job with their own mines. Secondly, they’re very anxious to expand, and because of that they really want to get on with things.”
From the Professor’s point of view that second factor was crucial, since although other suitors made promising noises, there was no urgency about moving the projects on from exploration and development and into construction.
“Thirdly,” continues the Professor, “they have the cash and the people.”
Under the terms of the proposed deal Anglo Asian will take 55% of all the ground under licence to Conroy in Ireland, and will have responsibility for covering all the expenses up to the point where a mining permit is granted.
There’ll be an initial 18 month exploration phase during which infill and resource drilling will be undertaken under a tight schedule, and then a further 18 month period during which it’s envisaged a full feasibility study will be completed.
The complexities of permitting and planning permission will also have to be negotiated of course, and this can take time too.
“But,” says the Professor, “within one year of receiving a mining permit and planning permission, we’d hope to be pouring gold.”
It’s an ambitious schedule and represents a significant upping of the pace.
What’s more, buoyed by the recent share price strength and the positive sentiment in the gold market, the Professor is confident that Conroy can hold up its own end.
“We anticipate we can fairly comfortably contribute financially,” he says. “It looks as though it will be a good project.”
Much remains to be proven, of course, but there are certainly grounds for optimism. The overall exploration target across Clontibret, Glenish and Clay Lake amounts to over eight million ounces. Sizeable nuggets have already been found at certain spots, and there’s the existing resource at Clontibret to build upon.
“Clontibret could grow to three million ounces,” opines the Professor. “And Clay Lake is likely to be much larger than that. It’s a fairly good position to be in.”