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Warren Mundine "confident" copper explorer Fuse can hit float target despite $1.5 million gap

David Prestipino -

Warren Mundine says he is confident the minerals exploration company he chairs is on track to raise the minimum $6 million required to float on the ASX, despite the company extending its first two-week initial public offering on December 4 by almost two months due to lack of interest from investors.

Fuse Minerals has fallen well short of the $10 million it sought from the public in its prospectus issued on November 20, but Mr Mundine, a prominent 'No' campaigner during the Voice to Parliament referendum, told the National Indigenous Times on Thursday only $1.5m in capital raising was required for Fuse's IPO to reach its required target by the March 24 deadline and proceed to float, contrary to reports it had raised only $1.86m from investors.

After missing its deadline to complete the IPO a second time, Fuse Minerals by law must return all funds to investors who wish to exit if they apply to do so. A February 26 deadline was given to apply for refunds.

That information was detailed in its second prospectus issued to ASIC on January 24 but not apparent on the company's homepage, latest news section or its social media posts, which continued to spruik the IPO to investors.

The chairman and CEO Todd Axford have promoted the float heavily on social media since December, with Mr Axford on Wednesday holding a 'fireside chat' on Twitter to detail the complexities of finalising the IPO, which was extended to March 24 as Fuse begins drilling and assessing prospects on various tenements and projects across Australia, some which still require heritage surveys and government approvals.

Mr Axford told almost 40 people during the IPO update on Wednesday the company's strategy was driven by the technical nous of its staff for early stage discovery, complemented by business identities such as Mr Mundine who could engage the industry's big players to help channel funds and advance its projects, which encompass two in WA and one in Queensland, as well as nine exploration "tenements".

"I sit here [today] and say that with every intent and confidence we are moving forward with the IPO, and we're well advanced with the capital raise," Mr Axford said.

"If we decide not to proceed with the IPO... that would leave us in a position where our share registry consists of the early-stage investors, and we'd be probably step back and focus on the Mt Sydney project, looking purely at a staged approach to drilling there, rather than at its other targets."

Early-stage investors had a chance to get their cash back two days before Mr Axford's online briefing, with the deadline listed as February 26 in the second prospectus issued by Fuse Minerals on January 24.

He said the company hoped a pot of gold would land for investors via an "outfarming arrangement early in the second half of 2024, potentially at a time when the copper price is starting to kick up" after a stalled capital raising campaign.

"We were talking to people last year who were saying 'oh it's a really great strategy, you've got really good projects but no one's doing IPOs so, I'm not sure I'm interested'," Mr Axford said.

"For us specifically we got a bit delayed with getting our [first] prospectus organised, which squeezed us up against Christmas and, in hindsight, our brokers were a bit optimistic in trying to squeeze it in before Christmas.

"That that had a flow-on effect with the ASX listing rules, which mean you can only have your offer open for three months from the date of the prospectus. Of course between mid-December and generally the end of January, most people in Australia are on holidays and not necessarily wanting to listen about investment opportunities.

"So that was challenging.. of course that put us to the point where, under the listing rules of the ASX, we needed to give investors an opportunity to consider whether they wanted to stay involved, so we issued a supplementary prospectus that extended the offer to March 28 but gave people who might've decided that they'd changed their mind, or for the period until we are ready to go they might like to utilise their cash for something else, a chance to take that out.

"That period's now closed, so now we're looking to pull together and consolidate where we're at and finalise the fundraising and get moving. So yeah, it has been a tough climate, but now, if you look at the outlook for copper, it's looking very positive ... I'm even hearing reports of people saying we might be heading for a copper deficit as early as the second half of this year."

Ms Axford said said "a real uplift in the copper price starting to happen through the back end of this year" would see people "wanting to jump into copper exposure".

"If that aligns up with us having some good early drill results [at Mt Sydney], then we could really be off and running with some early returns for investors."

Mr Mundine told National Indigenous Times he was in Perth this week meeting potential major investors to drum up the remaining $1.5m required by March 24.

"We're quite confident in the project ... we've got three sites we are doing, we're doing base metal but copper is our main focus and that, as we know, in the next three years is going to be the big thing, with the renewable energy industry," he said.

Potential and current investors should be buoyed by market forecasts of higher copper prices in the coming years.

"We're in negotiations with a couple of people... I have a presentation tonight in front of 40 people about the project, and our stockbrokers are out and about and sounding very positive at the moment as well," he said.

Mr Mundine, who is responsible for corporate governance of the company, was confident the IPO would proceed before the March 24 deadline to raise the $6m required to float.

The Mt Sydney tenement was the basis of the company's positive outlook, with early drilling results for copper likely to determine its strategic direction regarding its other exploration options.

"Let's not pretend it's an easy market at the moment, especially for start-ups ... most of the IPOs recently have failed, but we're confident we can get through this," Mr Mundine said.

"There's been work done there before and it looks good ... we're going to do our drilling, we're going to do our work."

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