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Asiamet is undervalued copper play, says Optiva

Optiva has started covering the share with a target price of 8p - more than three times the current price of 2.3p
A drill rig
A recent preliminary economic assessment of BKM showed a simple open pit, heap leach, SX-EW operation producing 25,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of copper cathode at an average cash cost of US$1.28 per pound and capital expenditure of US$164mln.

Indonesia-focused Asiamet Resources Limited (LON:ARS, CVE:ARS) is a 'compelling' investment opportunity and provides one of the only ways to gain exposure to pure copper development on AIM.

So says broker Optiva, which has started covering the share with a target price of 8p a share - more than three times the current price of 2.3p.

Its resource base at the mid-scale BKM project and the larger Beutong project have good potential to be enlarged, while the fundamentals of the copper market are due for an upturn, says mining analyst Phil Swinfen.

Encouraging feasibility drilling

The Optiva note comes as the firm unveiled highly encouraging drill results as part of the feasibility study at BKM, which showed continued high grade copper at the southern part of the deposit.

It also confirmed continuity of higher grades previously reported within the BK058 - one of the main target zones.

Significantly, the miner said this means it can assess selective mining of higher grade copper early in BKM's mine life, potentially enhancing project economics and shortening the capital payback period.

A recent preliminary economic assessment of BKM showed a  simple open pit, heap leach, SX-EW operation producing 25,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of copper cathode at an average cash cost of US$1.28 per pound and capital expenditure of US$164mln.

Swinfen says  this makes it one of the lowest strip ratio development projects in the world, and along with the copper grade, underpins the robust economics. The PEA showed an after tax net present value of US$204mln and 39% IRR (internal rate of return).

In addition Swinfen highlights that the BKM deposit remains open.

Each approximate 5Mt (milion tonnes) of additional ore defined would add one year to the mine life and potentially boost the NAV by around US$20mln, says the broker.

Low capex requirements a bonus

Its low capex requirements should ease the path for financing and development meaning a shorter payback period.

Meanwhile, at Beutong, Asiamet holds a 40% interest in the Sumatra project and has an option to earn up to an 80% interest.

It is a large copper, gold, moly site with a resource base of 1.2bn pounds of copper in measured and indicated and 4.1bn pounds of inferred.

Beutong is not the main focus at the moment due to the likely large capex of the project, but it is an important and potentially valuable asset in the portfolio, the broker says.

Optiva say it's a as a project for the next cycle, believing it to be of interest to major mining groups looking to maintain production with a low-capital intensity project of significant scale.

Copper downcycle on the wane

The broker reckons the current prolonged down-cycle is waning, and that negative sentiment has outplayed the supply-demand fundamentals in the copper market.

"We see a structural deficit emerging for refined copper from 2018, with the industry’s ability to bring on new supply limited," it says, adding this plays to Asiamet's advantage, developing the project in a down cycle, and becoming a copper cathode producer at a time of potentially coinciding with higher prices.

As a footnote, Swinfen also adds that Indonesia is a good mining address, which encourages foreign investment, and  "has a history of permitting world-class mines into production".

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