Ovoca Gold plc was a gold exploration and mine development company focused on gold and silver deposits located in Russia.
Ovoca was founded in 1985 in Ireland and since inception has been involved in natural resource development. Ovoca entered Russia in 2004 with the acquisition of Norplat Limited, a company operating in the Murmansk Region which owned the licenses for the Pellapakh molybdenum-copper-gold ore body and the Oleninskoye gold ore body.
In 2006, Ovoca acquired a majority interest in OAO Ajax, a Russian company that owned the Goltsovoye silver deposit in the Magadan region in eastern Russian. Goltsovoye was, at the time, a large, high grade silver deposit that had yet to be mined. Ovoca carried out confirmatory drilling to verify historical Soviet data, established a JORC Code resource, completed a feasibility study and secured project financing to build a mine. The global economic crisis which began in 2008 coincided with the financing, which was later withdrawn. As such, in January 2009 Ovoca agreed to sell Goltsovoye to Polymetal for an aggregate cash and share consideration of US$47.7 million.
In January 2010, Ovoca purchased 100% of the Nevsko-Pestrinskoye, Stakhanovsky and Rassoshinskaya gold exploration and development projects located in the Magadan region of Russia. Ovoca initially focussed the majority of its exploration activities on Olcha in the southern section of the Rassoshinskaya licence area, which was better developed in terms of geology. Following exploration activities undertaken in 2010 and 2011 and the resulting increase in the resource base of Olcha, Ovoca was granted a certificate of discovery in October 2011. In April 2012, Ovoca was then granted a 25 year exploitation license for Olcha, the final regulatory step required before exploitation of Olcha could commence. The next steps for Ovoca to exploit Olcha would be the development of mining operations which would require additional capital investment from the Company and the fulfilment of certain obligations under the terms of the Olcha exploitation licence.
Ovoca announced on December 2012 that it had entered into a conditional agreement to sell its 100 per cent. interest in its subsidiary Olymp, whose only asset was the mining and exploration license for the Olcha gold-silver deposit, to Polymetal. The consideration payable under the disposal was 775,000 Polymetal ordinary shares.
Ovoca subsequently focused its efforts on the Stakhanovsky Licence. A resource estimate for Stakhanovsky, based on the sampling information available as at the end of 2012, was prepared by MIR Resources Limited in accordance with the JORC Code, and identified a total mineral resource of 4.4 Mt at an average gold grade of 2.3 g/t for an estimated gold content of 231,000 ounces in the Measured and Indicated resource category and 96,000 ounces in the Inferred resource category.
In 2014, after taking into account the continued volatility in the gold markets and the risks associated with the development of mining operations on the Stakhanovsky Licence, which would require additional capital investment from the Company and the fulfilment of certain obligations under the terms of the Stakhanovsky Licence, the Company suspended exploration activities on the area and initiated efforts to seek a joint venture partner to develop the licence or to potentially sell the Company’s interest in the licence. The Company has so far been unable to find a joint venture partner or an acquirer for the Stakhanovsky Licence.
The Company currently has no plans to develop the Stakhanovsky Licence Area and, in the first half of 2017, the Company disposed of its mining equipment at the site.
Ovoca is a strongly capitalized business. As at 31 December 2017, the Company had net assets of €22.4 million, which included cash and cash equivalents of €5.5 million and available for sale financial assets of €15.9 million. Ovoca has no current outstanding debt. In recent years, Ovoca’s share price has continued to trade at what the Existing Directors believe to be a significant discount to its net asset value per Ordinary Share. At 31 December 2017, such discount was approximately 68 per cent.