As 2018 draws to a close, the team at Bushveld Minerals Limited and I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has been part of our story. And what a story it has been! In a year that saw most equity markets down (the AIM, the FTSE and the Dow all fell 19.24%, 0.28% an 7.91% respectively) Bushveld saw its share price grow an incredible 462% (as of close of business 20 December 2018.) This after a 347% rise in 2017.
At the heart of this growth is the successful completion of the acquisition of an effective 74% shareholding in the low-cost producing Vametco Alloys in 2017 and 2018, in an environment of vanadium prices that have risen more than 5 times between January 2017 and today. As a result of the Vametco acquisition we reported the first set of strong financial results that reflect the full consolidation of Vametco’s accounts.
The Vametco acquisition gives us a solid platform from which to execute our vision of building a large, low cost vertically integrated vanadium platform, supplying more than 10,000 mtV of vanadium to the global market. This growth will come from not only Vametco but our other vanadium assets too and will see Bushveld producing a range of vanadium products, including nitrovanTM, ferrovanadium and vanadium electrolyte for vanadium redox flow batteries (“VRFBs”).
At a corporate level we initiated a process to review our organisational capacity in light of not only the growth we have achieved but the ambitious journey still ahead. We added new members to our management team and have reinforced our Board, through the appointment of Michael Kirkwood as a senior independent non-executive director. We anticipate further strengthening of our Board and management team in 2019.
At Vametco, our focus for 2019 is to optimise operational performance and continue growing production, ensuring we sustainably maximise production volumes and drive down operating costs. We are committed to building on the ongoing, cooperative relationship with all of our stakeholders, particularly our workforce and local communities, as they are an important part of our growth path. Beyond Vametco, the development of our assets, the Brits Vanadium project and the Mokopane Vanadium project, as well as securing additional processing capacity will also remain a key focus as we look to grow our production volumes.
In 2019, we will continue advancing our strategy of building a leading energy storage company through Bushveld Energy as we progress the construction of the electrolyte manufacturing plant in South Africa, the deployment of a VRFB at Eskom, the development of vanadium electrolyte leasing products, and securing large scale mandates for VRFB deployments. Bushveld Energy is the focus of our downstream vertical integration into the stationary energy storage market, which is important not only for its proposition of diversifying and growing vanadium demand but also for its outright commercial attractiveness.
Work towards a listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has commenced. Listing on the JSE will give South African capital exposure to the Bushveld’s story while broadening the Company’s access to capital to facilitate its ambitious growth plans and enhance its profile further in the global capital markets.
As previously mentioned, work to define a sustainable dividend policy and so add a dividend return to the capital growth proposition of Bushveld is ongoing and will be completed in Q1 2019.
To everyone who has been a part of Bushveld in 2018 – our hardworking employees, investors, community partners and advisors – a special thank you for your contribution. Much has been accomplished. Much more remains to be done ahead.
We wish you and your families blessed holidays and look forward to continuing this journey with you in 2019!