Juniors call for more help

MINING industry groups the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies and the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group have called for more assistance for junior explorers during the COVI9-19 pandemic.
Juniors call for more help Juniors call for more help Juniors call for more help Juniors call for more help Juniors call for more help

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On Monday, the Australian government announced the A$130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy program to keep people in jobs.

However, it is only eligible for companies that have suffered a 30% revenue hit.

"Small mineral exploration companies don't have revenue or turnover, they exist on their ability to raise investment from which they fund exploration and employ staff," AMEC CEO Warren Pearce said. 

"It can't ever have been the government's intention to exclude companies that employ and support staff and survive by raising funds from investment, rather than from sales turnover.

"Collectively, these companies employ hundreds of people and many of these jobs are in serious jeopardy, as their ability to raise investment to support operations is no longer possible as a result of COVID-19."

Many explorers have already cut or reduced directors' fees and suspended field work due to the pandemic.

"Employees are being stood down now as these companies prepare for a very baron 2020. Just like so many other industries across Australia, we need this support now," Pearce said.

AMEC is calling on the government to widen the criteria, given most fit the definition of a small business.

Yesterday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission announced temporary changes to capital raisings, including an increase in placement capacity from 15% to 25%.

AAMEG called for further assistance as it argued for most explorers, raising capital was not an option.

It called on the ASX to reduce listing fees.

"Our listed members are now, more than ever, incredibly vulnerable," AAMEG CEO William Witham said.

"As such, AAMEG is calling on ASIC to consider a temporary waiver of its annual industry levy, and asking the ASX to offer a reduction in its scaled listing fees.

"In most cases, for a company with a market cap below A$40-50 million these combined fees can be equivalent to that of an average annual salary."