Central Asia Metals hunts for acquisitions

Macedonia-based SASA mine – Image courtesy of Lynx Resources

LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Base metals producer Central Asia Metals (CAML) on Wednesday reported a more than doubling in first-half revenue and profits following the acquisition of a mine in Macedonia and said it was actively looking for new opportunities to expand.

Aim-listed CAML bought the Sasa zinc and lead mine in Macedonia in September 2017 for $402.5 million, with a combination of debt and equity. The company also owns a copper mine in Kazakstan.

Miners are struggling to find opportunities to grow, especially in copper, a metal expected to be in strong demand from a more electrified economy.

CAML’s share price rose 1.3 percent by 0859 GMT, after a nearly 30 percent fall so far this year.

Share prices in the sector have been hit by the trade dispute between China and the United States that has knocked commodity prices. Copper has fallen around 15 percent this year.

Nigel Robinson, CAML’s CEO, said in an interview the company was focused on controlling costs to offset weakening markets and it was looking for a further acquisition, in copper or another base metal.

“Given that our Sasa integration process is now largely complete, we are once again actively looking for additional growth opportunities,” he said, adding he was largely agnostic as to where.

CAML has managed to hold zinc costs steady at the Sasa mine at 44 cents per pound mined, but copper costs in its Kazakh operations rose to 53 cents per pound from 45 cents per pound mined. Robinson said the increase was down to higher staff costs and electricity prices.

Revenues and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) rose to $102.4 million and $64.6 million respectively, both around 160 percent higher versus the same time a year ago.

CAML held its dividend steady at 6.5 pence per share, which analysts at Peel Hunt said was a sign of confidence from management. They rate the stock a “buy”.

(By Barbara Lewis and Peter Hobson; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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