Apex runs out of lives

A CHANGE of management and a restructure have been unable to keep long-struggling gold producer Apex Minerals afloat, with administrators and receivers appointed by creditors overnight.
Apex runs out of lives Apex runs out of lives Apex runs out of lives Apex runs out of lives Apex runs out of lives

Creditor RF Capital appointed Darren Weaver and Andrew Saker, of Ferrier Hodgson, as joint and several receivers of Apex and its subsidiary, Apex Gold.

Bryan Hughes of Pitcher Partners was appointed administrator of the company and its subsidiary.

Apex Minerals called a trading halt yesterday to try to secure funding to rectify a mechanical issue that has affected power generation at its Wiluna operation in Western Australia.

The company said it needed less than $A1 million to get the troubled Wiluna mine back on track following a mechanical breakdown at the onsite gas power-generation facility.

When requesting the halt, Apex said it was in discussions with its secured creditor for financing, but the company obviously ran out of money before it could secure funds.

The collapse of Apex comes after years of issues and funding woes.

Under the leadership of Mark Ashley, the company acquired the Wiluna mine from Oxiana in 2007 for $29.5 million and recommissioned it in 2008.

But the operation never performed strongly for Apex and the company raised at least $200 million over the past five years.

Former St Barbara managing director Ed Eshuys swooped in early last year with a $20 million recapitalisation and restructure plan that saw Ashley ousted from the company.

Since then, Wiluna has shown signs of improvement. But it still grappled with cash costs, which approached $2000 an ounce at times, and lower than expected production.

Apex announced a strategic review in January, which would consider the sale of Wiluna.

In February, the company announced the sale of the Youanmi project for $15 million. But the buyer, Oz Younami Gold, later demanded the price be reduced to $5 million in the wake of the gold price fall in April.

In March, Apex announced a $50 million deal to sell Wiluna to Everprosperity Investment Co, but the sale was called off last month after the proposed buyer sought a lower price.

The company revealed it had just $70,000 at the end of the March quarter.

Major shareholders are M&G Investments (28%) and Vanguard Group (16%), but the register also features Ashley and former Apex chairman Kim Robinson, and Perth mining identities Mike Fotios and Mark Creasy.

Andrew Forrest's private investment company The Metal Group holds 60 million options as a result of a financing offer inked last year.

Apex shares last traded at 1.1c, down from 12.2c this time last year and 5c at the start of 2013.

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