Eco Investor Update
A Weekly News Update for Environmental Investors
2010 - No 10
Sims Metal Management
Chairman, Paul Varello, said it was a sign of the times, and an example of the speed of turnaround in the electronics sector. "When we receive newer products that are commonly used like this, we study its composition to determine how best to recycle it in an environmentally friendly manner. In this case, the customer was keen to have their iPad shredded for data security purposes," he said.
Begun in 2002, the Sims Recycling Solutions division is now the world's leading recycler of electronic goods and equipment.
Mr Varello said the company's new facility at Newport in South Wales is "the largest and most modern electronic equipment recycling plant in the world." This "allows us to carry out a wide range of recycling solutions and has the capacity to recover and recycle more than 100,000 tonnes per year of residential and commercial e-waste.
"A new 6,000 square metre building on the site houses the latest in electronics shredding technology and state-of-the-art equipment to separate, clean and recycle precious metals, glass, polymers and plastics which would otherwise go into landfills.
"This new electronics recycling facility is combined with the company's existing metals shredder and fridge recycling plant on a 36 acre site, making it one of the world's largest and most diverse recycling operations.
"As the world's largest metal recycling company, our entire ethos is about resource efficiency and doing more with less," he said. For the second consecutive year the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, nominated Sims Metal Management as one of the Global Top 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World.
"Your company's core metal
recycling business preserves millions of tonnes of valuable and increasingly
scarce recyclable materials that would otherwise have ended up in landfills."
Although results in the first quarter of 2010-11 were below expectations, the company reminded shareholders that it operates in a cyclical industry, and that total shareholder return - share price appreciation and dividends paid - has averaged 18 per cent per annum over the last ten year period. "This means that $1,000 invested in your company ten years ago would be worth over $5,125 today," said group chief executive officer, Daniel Dienst. (ASX: SGM)
Mr Green joined TCI in 2007 and is a partner with responsibilities for its global utility, renewable energy and infrastructure investments.
Prior to joining TCI, he led European Utilities equity research at Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers over 12 years. He is a UK Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualifying with Price Waterhouse and has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Interestingly, the announcement of his appointment came the day after Infigen's annual general meeting, suggesting that TCI or Mr Green were unwilling to field questions from security holders.
This is a shame as the AGM was well attended with over 120 people and the issues raised by TCI's request for a director, and the consequent resignations of the chairman Graham Kelly and director Tony Battle, were raised from the floor.
There were also questions about TCI's strategy with Infigen, but new chairman Mike Hutchinson pointed out there was no TCI representative to respond.
Mr Hutchinson said that TCI would be more informed about Infigen now that it would have a director and access to board papers, and this may help to align its investment strategy with the outcomes sought by other security holders.
He also said an independent director would be appointed. However he did not say what could happen if directors failed to win the support of TCI in their future re-election, a factor that led to the resignation of Mr Battle. With only about 40 per cent of security holders said to vote, TCI's 22 per cent holding in Infigen can be decisive.
Despite having a 22 per cent interest, TCI has not had to make a takeover offer as it has reached this position through share buybacks and creep provisions.
In what is said to be an unrelated move, Infigen's chief financial officer, Gerard Dover, has resigned, and this is expected to be effective on 31 December. Infigen said the timing is so he can complete the strategic projects he is now working on and facilitate the succession of a new CFO.
Infigen's low share also drew questions at the AGM. Although management are committed to doing what they can, the price fell further following the meeting to a low of 62 cents and stayed low the next day when the new TCI director was announced.
On the financial side, Mr Hutchinson said Infigen has revised down from $200 million to $100 million how much it expects to pay off its global debt facility over the next two years. The fall is half due to the rising Australian dollar and half to working capital requirements.
Mr Hutchinson said Infigen's poor performance over the past 12 months was due to two reasons. Firstly, its legacy assets have not performed in line with the original investment cases. This is due to below forecast wind speeds and turbine availabilities, increased operating costs as many turbines have started to come off warranty, lower than expected electricity prices in the US, and in Australia low prices for renewable energy certificates (RECs), failure to legislate a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and delays in the implementation of the expanded Renewable Energy Target scheme.
The second factor is capital structure, with Infigen's debt, which is held against the asset portfolio under the global debt facility, "higher than might be considered prudent, especially given the reduced performance expectations".
The terms of the global debt facility mean that net cash flows from the assets in the facility must be used for debt servicing until repayment or refinancing occurs. "While this is progressively reducing gearing to more prudent levels, it limits the cash flows available for distribution to security holders and for developing the business," said Mr Hutchinson.
Although it gives cost benefits,
the global debt facility significantly constrains capital flexibility.
Infigen will assess funding alternatives to secure the financial independence
of the US business, fund Australian developments, and efficiently manage
capital, he said.
Meanwhile, Infigen's distribution
is unlikely to grow in the short to medium term.
At the operational level, Infigen has expanded its latest development, the Woodlawn Wind Farm next to its Capital Wind Farm in NSW, from 42 to 48.3 megawatts. The extra capital cost is $14 million. Construction is underway and the wind farm is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2011.
Managing director, Miles George, told the AGM that in 2009-10 production from continuing operations increased 2 per cent to 4,299 GWh. Production from the Australian wind farms rose 30 per cent to 1,137 GWh, due primarily to Capital Wind Farm, US production fell 7 per cent to 2,950 GWh due to lower than average wind, and German production increased 27 per cent to 212 GWh due to a full year contribution from new capacity additions that were partially offset by poor wind conditions.
An operational priority is to improve turbine availability from 94.6 per cent to at least 95 per cent.
Mr George said Infigen's move into utility scale photovoltaics is a natural extension of the business. Infigen has partnered with Suntech Power and their 150 MW solar PV power generation proposal has been shortlisted by the Federal Government's Solar Flagships Program. A decision is due in the first half of 2011. (ASX: IFN)
Ceramic Fuel Cells
Origin Energy is paying a feed-in tariff for excess electricity exported to the grid.
Ceramic Fuel Cells estimates BlueGen units will save residents hundreds of dollars per year in energy bills, depending on the size of the home, size of the family and whether a feed-in tariff is available for the excess electricity produced.
Installation of the unit is part of a $1.3 million pilot program in Victoria under which 30 BlueGen units - 20 in Melbourne and 10 in Shepparton - are being installed in public housing properties.
Origin Energy has offered tenants who install BlueGen units under the program a package of Green Gas plus a one-for-one feed-in tariff for the excess electricity. Tenants who export power to the grid get a credit on their bill equal to the normal retail rate of electricity.
The chairman of Ceramic Fuel Cells, Jeff Harding, said "We are convinced that small scale, low-emission units like BlueGen should be part of the future landscape for electricity production in both Australia and around the world. Not only do they reduce electricity prices and carbon output, but they negate the need for large scale investment in electricity distribution infrastructure."
Each BlueGen unit produces about 12,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year about twice the amount used by the average Melbourne home. (ASX: CFU)
Shareholders can buy up to $15,000 worth of shares at the lower of 50 per share or a 10 per cent discount to the volume weighted average price of shares on the ASX between 13 and 17 December.
Subject to shareholder approval, applicants will receive an attaching option for each share exercisable at 55 cents and expiring on 31 March 2012.
The capital raising is for working capital to continue the work program leading towards a 25 MWe commercial demonstration plant. This includes development and commissioning of a 1 MWe pilot plant to deliver the first power using enhanced geothermal systems technology in Australia.
The company is considering a placement of up to 60 million shares and 60 million attaching options to professional, sophisticated and institutional investors but has postponed a decision on whether to proceed until early 2011.
Chairman, Martin Albrecht AC, said he will retire as chairman at the annual general meeting.
"What has never changed in the nine years I have been Chairman is the quality of our world class resource indeed the potential cornerstone of a nation building, Cooper Basin Renewable Energy Hub," he said.
Managing director, Jack Hamilton, said early results from the stimulation program at Jolokia are encouraging. The company has established two fracture zones in the granite at 4,400 and 4,700 metres and demonstrated fluid flow into the reservoir. The enhanced fractures are deeper than the previously stimulated zone at Habanero which was at 4,250 metres.
"The suitability of these fractures for further enhancement for use as an underground heat exchanger is still to be assessed," he said.
In collaboration with Origin Energy, the Shallows' Joint Venture is poised to commence the exploration phase for a hot sedimentary aquifer development in the same Cooper Basin tenement area. Geodynamics is securing Rig 100 for release to the Shallows' program. The first well is planned to commence in the coming month. (ASX: GDY)
A possible Stage 2 could take it to a total 99 MW project valued at over $300 million, said the company.
Undertaken by subsidiary eco-Kinetcs, the project is with a Thai manufacturing, chemical, insurance, transport and real estate group. (ASX: CBD)
Chief executive officer, Mark Norman, said the dividend reflects Solco's growing status as a profitable company and leading wholesale solar energy supplier.
The company is on track to sustain its sales and profit growth in 2010-11, he said. (ASX: SOO)
Micro Cap Companies
AAQ will raise $2 million in a public offer and $0.75 million in a priority offer to the top 20 share holders at 1 cent per share. The offers are underwritten to $2 million.
SEAS is in south east South Australia and an early stage business with a limited trading history.
AAQ previously operated the Australis Aquaculture business, the first supplier of barramundi to North America. Its shares have been suspended since January 2009. An administrator appointed in February 2009.
It sold its assets to lower debt, but procured a licence to use the company's intellectual property and confidential know-how.
It proposes to apply these to the SEAS business, with a focus on Australia, Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, and ocean cage technology.
SEAS will be managed by Doug Peel, whose family started the SEAS business in 1992.
AAQ said it intends to take a slow and cautious approach to growing the SEAS farm. (ASX: AAQ)
Apollo Gas & Dart Energy
Meanwhile, Apollo Gas has created media coverage and anxiety in Sydney with its subsidiary Macquarie Energy's Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL 463) to explore for coal seam gas beneath Sydney.
The licence allows Macquarie "to explore responsibly" for hydrocarbons including coal seam gas but Apollo said it does not give it the right to produce any hydrocarbons. The licence covers 2,385 square kilometres from Kurnell to Gosford and west to Eastern Creek.
Macquarie has approval to drill a single exploration corehole in the industrial suburb St Peters. Approval was given in March 2010 and the hole may be drilled in 2011, said Apollo Gas.
However, "No final decision has been taken to proceed with drilling the hole at the St Peters site," it said.
"A decision was taken by the company some time ago to delay any exploration until the City of Sydney releases details of its Decentralised Energy Master Plan.
"The Master Plan may indicate to Macquarie Energy numerous other sites, rather than the St Peters site as preferable for exploration activities.
"Macquarie Energy's project in Sydney is at a very early stage. Engaging with the community and local stakeholders is critical and a consultation process will commence at the appropriate time.
"Ultimately it is the decision of the community and its leaders to decide whether or not to utilise this resource beneath the city," said the company.
In regard to another project, PEL 456, Santos has elected to proceed to Phases 2B and 2C of the farm-in work program to earn a further 35 per cent interest in the coal seam gas rights. The decision is due to the encouraging results from Stage 1 and drilling in the Brawboy-Cuan area, said Apollo.
Phases 2B and 2C of the farm-in program consist of drilling a multi-well pilot and testing, drilling a further exploration corehole and acquisition of walkaway vertical seismic profiles. (ASX: AZO and DTE)
He retains 300,000 options exercisable at 60 cents by 31 December 2010. Carbon Conscious' shares are currently at around 10 cents. (ASX: CCF)
Dyesol said this is the next step in its strategy to partner with global corporations for commercializing its DSC technology. Umicore is a global materials technology group and a world leader in precious metals chemistry. It provides metal based materials and solutions for the production of green energy with sales of 1.7 billion in 2009. Total sales were 6.9 billion including metals trading.
Umicore generates approximately 50 per cent of its revenues and spends approximately 80 per cent of its R&D budget on clean technologies such as emission control catalysts, materials for rechargeable batteries and photovoltaics, fuel cells, and precious metals recycling.
The collaboration will cover joint marketing, research and development, commercial scale production and metal supply and recovery. The companies aim to sign a definitive agreement by the end of 2010.
Dyesol said it has found a reliable supply partner for the large scale manufacturing of high quality dyes. a crucial component of the DSC structure.
Richard Caldwell, executive chairman, said "The partnership with Umicore is an important step in establishing a robust supply chain for Dyesol and its multi-national partners. We once again ally ourselves with a world leader, with deep technological understanding and excellent manufacturing skills." (ASX: DYE)
The company aims to appoint a chief executive officer in the next few months, said chairman, Peter McCoy. ASX: GNV)
Alcoa has operated a power station in Anglesea in Victoria for over 40 years.
The two companies said they have held informal discussions for nearly two years and have now agreed to commence formal discussions.
Under their Memorandum of Intent (MOI), investigations and potential collaboration include identifying a site on land leased by Alcoa for the GGPP Stage 1 Proof of Resource/Concept and Stage 2 12MWe Demonstration Plant.
Other areas are grid connection of the GGPP via Alcoa infrastructure assets, base load renewable energy off-take as a result of a successful GGPP Stage 2 Demonstration Plant, and purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC's) if Stage 2 is successful.
Alcoa says that globally it has achieved a 44 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, and its Victorian operations have reduced direct greenhouse gas emissions by over 60 per cent in the same period.
Greenearth Energy managing director Mark Miller says that the MOI with Alcoa may be the catalyst for overcoming some of the most significant hurdles still ahead for the GGPP and is a potential pathway from the preliminary planning stage through Stage 1 exploration, Stage 2 demonstration and grid connection.
Meanwhile, data released by Greenearth Energy shows the technology footprints of various energy sources. To produce 1,000 MWe, biomass plantations need 4,000-6,000 square kilometres, wind needs 50 to 150 square kilometres, solar thermal or photovoltaic 20 to 50 square kilometres, geothermal 3 to 4 square kilometres and fossil and nuclear sites 1 to 4 square kilometres. (ASX: GRE)
Dr Mark Elliott, HRL's executive chairman, said "Whilst we are disappointed with not being granted additional funds for our Koroit Project at this time, we are still well placed to advance the project given the Federal Government's $7 million grant and ongoing discussions with potential joint venture partners."
"In Chile, we now have surface exploration programs in progress with detailed geophysical magneto-telluric (MT) surveys set to commence in February 2011. The surveys will encompass a minimum of three projects, which combined with information from geology and hot spring water chemistry should allow for estimating geothermal code compliant resources by mid to late 2011."
Hot Rock is currently raising $2.3 million via an underwritten rights issue at 5.5 cents per share. (ASX: HRL)
Managing director Philip Wood said the the funds are to prepay the amount presently owing to La Jolla Cove Investors under the July US$1.5 million convertible note, and pre-empts further INL share conversions by La Jolla Cove Investors. The sale of converted shares is believed to have affected Intec's share price.
The placement was to clients of broker Taylor Collison Limited.
Intec and JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation have agreed to cross licence their respective patent portfolios in the field of halide-based hydrometallurgy for the processing of base and precious metals. The deal includes a $5 million payment by JX Nippon to Intec.
In a few days Intec' shares jumped from 1 cent to 6 cents to 4 cents. (ASX: INL)
US-based Dutchess Capital is providing the working capital of up to $20 million over three years. The initial investment is up to $250,000 and MediVac can call on further funds when needed in tranches of up to $250,000. However, Dutchess Capital cannot hold more than 19.99 per cent of MediVac.
Executive chairman, Paul McPherson, said "The board is delighted with this unsolicited approach from Dutchess Capital. It demonstrates that MediVac is now on the world stage and is being noticed. The funds will allow us to move forward even faster as we complete our commercialization of the new MetaMizer 240 SSS hospital waste management system and SunnyWipes professional range of antimicrobial hand sanitising gels and hard surface wipes, and move further into international markets."
Details of share purchase plan wil be announced soon.
Mr McPherson said the combination of Dutchess Capital and the share purchase plan "provides a solid capital foundation for the company to progress its products into world markets, while also ensuring flexibility in funding working capital needs and providing liquidity in the company's shares." (ASX: MDV)
The company's founding managing director, David Johnson, will continue in the role until then and subsequently provide ongoing consulting services to the company.
Mr Johnson said "Metgasco is now making the critical transition from exploration to production and it is important for the company that the key skills required to drive project outcomes in upstream field and infrastructure development are added at the very top of the organisation.
"The Clarence Moreton basin is the sleeping giant in the Australian gas industry. With our exciting conventional discoveries, our demonstrated coal seam gas reserves and high value commercial agenda, Metgasco is poised for rapid growth. Peter shares my vision of Metgasco becoming a major gas supplier on the east coast of Australia and I am convinced that he has the energy, intellect and tenacity required to deliver on the company's promise."
Mr Henderson has over 30 years oil and gas industry experience. Since 2007 he has been Development Manager for Premier Oil Plc, managing major offshore project developments in Indonesia and Vietnam. Prior to that he was chief operating officer of Anzon Energy Ltd which initiated the successful oil operations in Victoria's Bass Strait using a floating production system.
Amechanical engineer by training, Mr Henderson has held senior management roles with various oil and gas companies covering operations, development, commercial and exploration activities in numerous countries. (ASX:MEL)
The capital will be used to clean up liabilities, improve the company's risk profile so it can negotiate better financing, increase assets per share, and help it grow. Mr Ormerod said the loan is a vote of confidence in the company.
The loan is over three years and can be converted to equity. (ASX: PEH)
Deep water wells drilled into the basin have been extremely productive, it said, flowing at greater than 150 litres per second under artesian pressure. Temperatures in the order of 145ºC are predicted at depths between 2,200 and 2,500 metres with an aquifer thickness of nearly 400 metres.
Small scale geothermal developments targeting this aquifer are feasible using appropriate drilling technology and packaged generating plant. The developments could replace existing local diesel generation. The estimated electricity costs are $100 per MWh compared to $250 per Mwh for diesel.
A small development could be completed in less than two years, it said. (ASX: PAX)
The Northern and Playford Power Stations at Port Augusta contribute around 20 per cent of South Australia's electricity.
The company's heat flow drilling between March and June 2009 returned excellent results ranging from 101 to 94 MW/m2 only a few hundred metres from the local electricity substation and adjacent to the town, it said.
A seismic survey in 2009 confirmed the presence of a key geological architecture of insulating sedimentary cover overlying a heat-producing basement, and that a viable EGS geothermal project could be established at the location. (ASX: TEY)
The 16-well program includes nine exploration wells and seven pilot wells, and aims to deliver more than 200 petajoules of gross proved and probable (2P) reserves.
WestSide currently has net 2P reserves of 94 petajoules.
Chief executive officer Dr Julie Beeby said the Meridian SeamGas joint venture, in which WestSide has a 51 per cent operating interest, also aims to ramp up field production toward 25 terajoules a day.
"Our aim is to complete this reserves expansion exploration program and capture sufficient production data from the pilots to achieve a reserves upgrade for Meridian before the end of this financial year." (ASX: WCL)
The New Seaclem-1 well is located in the Advent operated PEP11 permit, and will be the first exploration well to be drilled in the offshore Sydney Basin.
The drilling location is approximately 55 kilometres east of Newcastle within Commonwealth Waters. The well will target the Great White and Marlin stratigraphic prospects contained in the Cainozoic sedimentary sequence.
Advent's goal is to drill to a total depth of 826 metres and to determine the presence of natural gas within the interpreted tertiary sandstone reservoirs of the Great White and Marlin prospects.
Advent Energy say that previously, Tanvinh Resources has reported undiscovered prospective gas in place resource estimates for Great White of 1.16 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and for Marlin of 2.97 tcf at the P50 or best estimate' level under Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) guidelines.
Additionally, an independent site survey contractor's analysis of site survey data over the Marlin and Great White prospects states that the geological sequence immediately above the interpreted Permo-Triassic unconformity is "likely" to contain zone(s) of gas.
On completion of drilling New Seaclem-1, Advent will increase its interest from 25 to 85 per cent of PEP11. Bounty Oil and Gas, which is free-carried through this drilling, will reduce its interest from 75 to 15 per cent.
Advent Energy also said it has received a report from global geoscientific and environmental consultants RPS Group describing gas as "highly likely "at the target drilling depths for the New Seaclem-1Well".
The major shareholders of Advent are MEC Resources Limited, BPH Corporate Limited, Talbot Group Investments and Grandbridge Limited.
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