LONDON, April 4 Kazakhstan-focused copper miner
Central Asia Metals is on the hunt for new projects
after lowering its costs and achieving record production in
2016, its executive chairman said on Tuesday.
With no debt and $40.4 million in cash, Executive Chairman
Nick Clarke said the London-listed company could look for new
projects but did not specify which assets were under
consideration or exactly how much it might spend.
"For the size of the company we have reasonably good fire
power," Clarke told Reuters. The company has a market value of
about 245 million pounds ($305 million).
Higher production and profits allowed the miner to raise its
2016 dividend by 24 percent to 15.5 cents.
"We have the money to pay the dividend but also we have a
bit of money to do some exploration work and look for other
opportunities both in Central Asia and internationally," Clarke
Its shares, which have more than doubled since listing in
2010, were up 5.3 percent to 230 pence by 1228 GMT, hitting more
than one-month highs.
"A solid result from the company with no surprises and the
healthy dividend yields 7 percent. The company remains the only
mid-cap, cash-generative pure copper play in the market,"
Investec analysts said.
The company reported record copper production of 14,020
tonnes in 2016 and said costs at its Kounrad mine in Kazakhstan
fell 28 percent to $0.43 per pound, mostly due to a weaker local
currency and low inflation.
The industry is recovering following a commodity slump in
2015 with a string of miners reporting record production, higher
dividends and more spending.
Copper prices rose for the first time in three years in
2016, although they lagged a rebound in most other metals.
Clarke said Central Asia Metals, which has one operating
mine and two exploration projects in Chile and Kazakhstan, would
not invest any more money in its exploration project in Chile.
He said the results of a feasibility study completed in December
were not compelling at current copper prices.
($1 = 0.8044 pounds)
(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; editing by Jason Neely)