Vast Resources plc, the AIM-listed mining company, is pleased to provide the market with answers to a number of questions submitted by shareholders during recent weeks.
The answers to these questions are intended to provide further clarity over and above the information issued in the recent annual report and announcement of 25 October 2021 regarding the Company Update. The Board and management would like to note that some questions have been omitted from this document due to regulatory or commercial sensitivity restrictions.
1. Is Vast being set up to be taken over privately by another company or any Vast employees? The actions of the board and the share price decline has prompted some shareholders question whether this is the ultimate aim.
No, this is certainly not the case. The Vast board, management team and advisory teams are all unified in their objective to continue to advance the Company’s operations and communicate this to the market to achieve the appropriate value uplift on the equity market.
2. Will Vast be providing a separate RNS on production figures from the six months to October 2021 by the end of November 2021?
Production figures were provided up to the third week of October 2021. The Company will provide production and sales figures for the whole of October, November, and December by the end of January and quarterly thereafter as per the RNS made on 25th October 2021
3. Can Vast confirm that the AGM will be held in a reasonable timeframe, given that Andrew Prelea and Craig Harvey have both exceeded the period for their approved directorships?
The duration of the directorships has not been exceeded; Craig Harvey was reappointed last year, and Andrew Prelea is eligible for re-election at the next AGM as is Roy Tucker. The Company will be issuing a notice of the next AGM during the current month.
4. Can you advise if Andrew Prelea and other board members will extend their no selling duration by another 12 months, given the performance this year?
Please refer to the announcement of 28 October 2021 relating to the extension of the directors’ lock-up period.
5. Will the SARs recipients consider exercising once the Annual Report is issued to demonstrate faith in the plans and their achievement, rather than waiting to make a cashless guaranteed profit transaction?
The SARs awarded to date are not exercisable given the strike price for all awards is significantly greater than the current share price. The Directors have also purchased shares and are themselves in a loss-making scenario based on the current share price. The Board of Directors are unified in the goal of restoring fair value to the share price.
6. Will directors consider a pay freeze or at least a pay cut, to show solidarity with the current long-term shareholders who are tens of thousands of pounds down on their investment?
All Vast directors have opted to defer their remuneration over recent months and as a Board, they prioritise cashflows to the asset and supporting personnel before compensating Directors.
7. Are there any outstanding court cases involving Vast in any jurisdiction?
There are some outstanding court cases in Romania however these are not deemed to pose a risk to the Company’s operations. For more information, please refer to the Company’s audited accounts dated 28 October 2021 ( see note 25).
8. Vast’s reputation in the market has been eroded – how can the Company look to attract institutional investors when retail investors are panicked, and volume and the price are at an all-time low?
We intend to demonstrate a continued consistent improvement in our production profile at Baita Plai and rationalise the financing structures in place to support long term share price performance. Baita Plai is an exceptional asset and whilst it has taken longer to move into profitability than originally conceived, the Company has overcome challenges, as outlined in the recent RNS, and has translated limited capital expenditure (by usual mining industry standards), into enormous potential value. The fact that the value is not reflected in the share price today, does not take away the fundamental potential value of the asset which should become more evident to the Market as the asset progresses towards production capacity.
The additional pipeline interests within Vast’s portfolio, particularly Manaila which the Company believes could be brought back into production with modest capital outlay, are not recognised in today’s share price today.
9. How is the Company addressing recent allegations?
As stated in the RNS of 25 October 2021 we have instituted an enquiry into a breach of confidential information by an external counterparty who was under strict confidentiality agreements with the Company. The internal enquiry remains ongoing, and the counterparty has been notified of his breach by the Company’s lawyers. The result of the enquiry will be announced when available.
Financing & Atlas
10. Could you update shareholders on Vast’s financing strategy in respect to Baita Plai, Manaila and Botswana? Shareholders have concerns about Vast’s risk management and ability to get traditional funding, and instead relying on placings and the dilution of shareholders.
a. Can you name who the finance companies are, and/or whether they are classified as ‘Tier One’ banking institutions offering a proper finance set up instead of what we currently have in place with Atlas?
The Company cannot name the funders due to commercial NDAs. It should be noted that Romania is a relatively new jurisdiction for foreign direct investment in the mining sector and it currently has no real peer comparisons which has created additional hurdles for the board and management to overcome when negotiating with traditional lenders. However, as Baita Plai ramps up and demonstrates a consistent production profile, the financing process is expected to ameliorate.
b. Considering a tier one bank wouldn’t lend to Vast until a corporate restructuring had been undertaken, why should these banking institutions agree to lend now as this restructuring has not been done?
The Tier 1 bank we were in discussions with last year has different criteria from the current lenders we are negotiating with, and we do not believe that structure and geographic spread of portfolio will influence the decision making of these lenders.
11. Supply issues are currently a problem worldwide. With shipping costs having escalated and drivers in short supply. How is this being addressed? Does Vast pay the shipping costs or does Mercuria? Is the Company shipping monthly or has this moved to bi-monthly or quarterly to save money? Is this affecting the cashflow of the business?
The shipments are being carefully managed however shipping is ultimately in the hands of the off-taker, with Vast supplying concentrate according to the off-takers shipping schedules. The shipments vary from month to month however both Vast and the off-taker are working on a pre-booking arrangement to mitigate delays and optimise shipments.
12. When can shareholders expect the following:
a. The arrival on site and installation of the new jumbo drilling rig?
Vast has been advised that it will be delivered before the end of December 2021, however the Vast team have forward planned to ensure that it doesn’t need to be in place until January to provide an additional buffer.
b. The installation of the XRT at Baita Plai?
This has been scheduled to be operational in the latter part of H1 2022 to accommodate the additional infrastructure required and to synchronise with the increased volumes contemplated at that time.
13. The friable issue at Baita Plai was discovered in late August so why wasn’t the market advised immediately, like the broken bridge and the lack of production in H2 FY21, these were all materially impactful price issues that should have been communicated to the market much sooner.
As regards the friable area, this was initially encountered in late August. The tonnage to plant in August still exceeded that of July. The Company, without hesitation, initiated an audit of the situation and prepared a strategy to work around the area. The market was immediately updated with the conclusions being reached once the audit process had been concluded.
Zimbabwe & Botswana
14. What is causing the delay in Zimbabwe? Shareholders were advised that the Company were simply awaiting a signature, but this does not seem to be the case. At what point does Vast concede defeat on this? At what point does Vast’s business in Zimbabwe have too much of a detrimental impact on the business as a whole – such as the inability to get finance?
Due to the various political and legal sensitivities, the Board cannot publicly comment on this however every action taken by the Company has been documented and verified to the full satisfaction of the various regulatory bodies involved. Although the continued delays are unquestionably frustrating, the Company, as per various announcements, remains hopeful of a positive outcome and believes the continued tenacity of the Vast team will ultimately reward shareholders.
15. Further, regarding Zimbabwe, and settlement of historical claims, can you confirm that this would be in Vast’s favour and, if so, are the sums involved something that would change the Company’s ability to refinance? Does the Board expect a conclusion within a year?
The settlement is mutually beneficial to all Parties involved and the Board are in constant dialogue with the relevant authorities but cannot disclose at this point the status. The Company is hopeful of a conclusion but is not in control of timing or the outcome and it is premature to speculate as to what that might be.
16. What is the status of finance re Botswana (and is it reasonable to expect success on financing given the ability to finance other assets?). If external finance cannot be secured, how will the Board proceed?
The Board has been clear that Ghaghoo will be financed through third-party, non-equity linked, financing and external finance in the form of a bank guarantee is a condition precedent for the completion of the acquisition.
For further information, visit www.vastplc.com or please contact:
Vast Resources plc
Andrew Prelea (CEO)
Andrew Hall (CCO)
+44 (0) 20 7846 0974
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