Small Talk: Bellzone Mining sees the future in Guinean iron ore

In the world of mining, Guinea is hot property at the moment, especially if you happen to mine iron ore, the main constituent in steel production.

Most of the headlines last week went to the Anglo-Australian giant Rio Tinto, which formally announced that it had penned a binding agreement with China's Chalco to develop the huge Simadou project. But looking further down the list, there are a number of smaller groups that are also seeing the potential of the West African country.

One of those is Aim-listed Bellzone Mining, which last week announced that the Guinean minister of mines and geology had approved its application under the country's Mining Convention for development of the Kalia iron ore asset.

The convention is important for those wanting to dig around in Guinea's iron ore-rich earth, granting the right to the investor to extract and sell iron ore, as well as defining the rights over the project for a certain amount of time.

Last week's announcement did wonders for Bellzone's share price, sending the stock up by more than 8 per cent. The bad news is that the jump made only a partial inroad into the share price drop seen earlier in the month when the former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo said he would seek to re-negotiate deals deemed unbeneficial to the state. The second round run-off, scheduled for 18 July, was postponed.

Nik Zuks, the managing director of Bellzone Mining, said: "This is another major event for Bellzone in a short space of time. The Convention, combined with the signed Infrastructure Accord, clearly establishes the state's and the company's rights and obligations and de-risks the project by providing certainty around the terms and conditions."

DP Poland

Aim was designed for entrepreneurs to expand their companies and make the best of their ideas, which leads to a number of bizarre and odd companies finding their way on to the index.

Last week, trading began in the shares of DP Poland. Quite typical of an Aim group, the stock was placed at 50p apiece, raising £6.5m and allowing 65.7 per cent of the company to float.

DP Poland is an unusual entrant to Aim, however, because its sole business is to develop and operate Domino's Pizza outlets in Poland.

Domino's has had a fantastic few years, and has emerged from the recession as one of the most successful groups on the London main list – its shares have grown by nearly 75 per cent in the last 12 months alone.

DP Poland is hoping that it can capture some of the fairy dust in Eastern Europe. According to the company, there is a significant opportunity for Domino's Pizza to lead the home delivery pizza market in Poland. DP Poland plans to tailor pizzas for the Polish market, using traditional Polish sausage, regional cheeses and local vegetables.

Richard Worthington, DP's executive chairman, said: "The successful completion of our listing underlines the strength of the opportunity to develop a significant business in Poland with the Domino's Pizza brand."

Epistem

There was a period, about a year ago, when this column was dominated by the trials and tribulations of sectors like biotechnology and mining, in which companies need to raise funds to complete research or exploration work, only to need to raise more to develop whatever they found. When investors started to run away and seek less risky places to park their cash, many of these companies, lots of them on Aim, were in trouble.

But those that survived last year are now in a good position. Investors regaining their nerve have fewer, and stronger, groups to choose from. One of these is Aim-listed Epistem, a biotechnology group, which specialises in epithelial stem cells in the areas of oncology, gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases.

The group has had a rather trying time in recent months, which has seen its share price dip from an all-time high of 450p a share back in January. Closing last Friday at 347.5p a share, 2010 has not been its best year, but with sales up in each of the group's divisions, Epistem will be hoping that the good news filters through to investors, who will help it to recover some of the lost ground.

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