Critical Metals lists in UK with plans for M&A in Africa’s ‘small mine’ market by year-end

A FIRM that will look to invest in the ‘small-mine market’ in minerals such as antinomy, tantalum, cobalt and vanadium listed today on the London Stock Exchange.

Critical Metals, led by former investment banker, Russell Fryer, will seek out brownfields mining investments in Africa.

It offered shares today at five pence per share having raised £800,000 in its initial public offering, and following an earlier seed round of funding, said Fryer in an interview with online broadcaster, Proactive.

Fryer said the market could expect one or two merger and acquisition deals by the year-end with one in the “near-term”. Deals would be funded with a mix of cash, equity and debt. Fryer said South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) could be one of its lenders given the institutions focus on Southern Africa.

The company should have listed last year, but it was delayed owing to uncertainty created by Brexit, followed by interruptions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fryer said Critical Metals would supply minerals and metals into Europe and the US that might be vulnerable to disruption owing to China’s dominance. An economic war between the US and China posed risks for these markets, he said.

Critical Metals is also on the lookout for mines producing tin, niobium, rare earths, and beryllium. These are part of metals that are used in the satellite, space and even mobile phone technology.

“Covid-19 worked in our favour, because Covid-19 showed how dependent the world is on Chinese supply lines,” Fryer told Reuters. “We need to rethink our economies.”

Fryer, who worked formerly at Deutsche Bank and RBC, co-founded Western Uranium Corporation which became the largest holder of in-situ vanadium and uranium pounds in the US in 2015 owing to M&A activity, according to Fryer’s Linked-In account.

The listing of Critical Metals is the latest in a string of mining IPOs in London, suggesting the market is becoming more attractive for resource companies, said Reuters.

Tirupati Graphite, which mines graphite in Madagascar and processes it to make specialty graphite and graphene in India, also announced its intention to list in London and is targeting an end-October IPO.

Tirupati aims to tap growing demand for graphite, which is used in energy storage, industrial materials and lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

Tirupati CEO, Shishir Kumar Poddar, said most of the world’s graphite is produced in China, but he sees Africa becoming a key graphite-producing region.