SMALL CAP MOVERS: Avacta leaps as test detects new Covid variant

SMALL CAP MOVERS: Avacta shares soar as test detects new Covid variant; Premier African on a lithium charge

Premier African Metals continued its astonishing rise this week after it was formally granted an ‘exclusive prospect order’ in Zimbabwe. The EPO covers the Zulu Lithium and Tantalum claims.

The company’s chief executive, George Roach, highlighted that the EPO area contains further known lithium-bearing pegmatites offering upside to Zulu, as well as historic small gold mines, potential molybdenite and many tungsten mineral occurrences within the area.

Lots of interesting lumps of metal, in other words.

The shares shot up 142 per cent to 0.29p this week; in mid-February, you could have bought them at 0.05p.

Avacta has confirmed that its rapid antigen test will detect the dominant new variants of the coronavirus, known as the B117, or ‘Kent’, variant

Another African miner, Afritin Mining, had a cracking week, rising 49 per cent per cent to 41p after its quarterly production update.

The miner produced 194.5 tonnes of tin concentrate from its Uis mine in Namibia in the fiscal fourth quarter to end February 2021, representing a 28 per cent quarterly increase compared with the previous quarter, and exceeding the 180 tonnes production target.

Total production for the 2021 financial year amounted to 473 tonnes of tin concentrate.

Elsewhere in Africa, United Oil and Gas shares were wanted after the company spudded the ASD-1X exploration well in the Abu Sennan Licence in Egypt.

The ASD-1X well will test several stacked reservoir targets, primarily Abu Roash ‘C’ and ‘E’ while the ‘G’ reservoir is marked as a secondary target. The well is located to the north-east of the producing Al Jahraa Field.

UOG shares were up by around one-third on the week.

Sector peer Lekoil, the oil and gas exploration and production company with a focus on Nigeria and West Africa, jumped 29 per cent to 2.25p after a slightly bizarre development involving a loan it had made to a director, Olalekan Akinyanmi.

Long story short: Akinyanmi has missed a loan repayment so the company has withheld a chunk of his salary and as it regards the loan to be in default added additional interest of 4 per cent a year to the loan.

Finances were on the minds of another oil and gas company this week, somewhat closer to home.

North Sea operator Jersey Oil and Gas had been planning to raise fresh capital as it continues discussions over farming out portions of its Greater Buchan Area Development Project.

It’s always better in negotiations not to be considered a desperate seller so a fundraising would make sense; it’s also better if the fundraising can be arranged before the cat gets out of the bag but that did not happen this week with the company forced to confirm its plans after media speculation, lopping around one-quarter off the company’s value.

Prospex Energy, down 17 per cent at 1.8p, was another to be hit by cash-call news. The company has raised £750,000 by placing shares at 1.5p a throw.

We are coming up to the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK and while it has been a tough time for all and sundry there have been some stocks that have fared very well as a result of the changing health landscape.

One of those stocks is Avacta Group, which is trading at more than 10 times the level it was a year ago.

The shares rose another 27 per cent this week after the company confirmed its rapid antigen test will detect the dominant new variants of the coronavirus, known as the B117, or ‘Kent’, variant, and the D614G variant, as well as the original strain.

Proving that the business is not all about coronavirus testing these days, the company also announced a royalty-bearing licence agreement with Biokit, which wants to incorporate Avacta’s Affimer reagents into an in-vitro diagnostic product.