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Earth moves for one but disappoints newcomer

Two of WA’s smaller listed companies have recently headed towards ventures significantly different from their traditional core business, to ensure their survival.

Beta Carotene producer AquaCarotene Limited is taking advantage of a local building boom to monetise construction materials on its Karratha land holdings.

The company’s 120 hectares contain two mining leases and, in addition to AquaCarotene’s algal ponds, laboratory and residential facilities, commercial quantities of sand and gravel.

This material is of interest to an earth-moving contractor, who can use it for fill and road base.

The attraction to AquaCarotene is much-needed cash from the sale of this, and no responsibility for its removal and cartage.

The Australian Stock Exchange has recently sought assurance from Aqua-Carotene, on its ability to continue to fund operations past the middle of this year.

The company is hoping to emerge from a troubled period, which culminated in a two-part annual general meeting.

Between the November 28 2002 AGM and its resumption late last month, chair-man Syd Chesson resigned, and at the January meeting, two directors were voted out, including managing director Don Smith.

In the meantime, Valdera Resources, which also had a difficult few months, was deciding to move its focus off several would-be mining projects.

Valdera listed last May on a 20 cents-per-share IPO, but finished the year at less than eight cents, following disappointing base metal drilling results.

Led by chairman Charles Morgan, Valdera now plans to sell off its local exploration assets, to secure interest in a gas exploration and production joint venture in the Gulf of Mexico through a merger with Canadian-based Golden Gate Resources.

Golden Gate, which will become a subsidiary of Valdera, holds a 10 per cent participating interest in a Padre Island, coastal Gulf of Mexico project.

Another ASX listed company, Sydney-based Novus Petroleum, holds 40 per cent equity in the venture, and BNP Petroleum and Mitsui Oil hold 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Woodside Petroleum includes the region in its four major areas of opportunity for international exploration and production.

Both Mr Morgan and Valdera executive director Craig Burton are involved with the petroleum industry.

Mr Morgan is one of two executive directors of West Oil, and executive chairman of Nido Petroleum, while Mr Burton is a non-executive director of West Oil.

Ex-BHP geologist and Valdera technical executive director and substantial shareholder Donal Windrim, increased his Valdera holdings last November.

Mr Burton boosted his equity in Valdera last December.

Valdera is planning a name change and capital raising once the merger is effect-

ed, but due diligence is continuing until the end of the month ahead of an end-of-May deadline for regulatory and shareholder approvals.

AquaCarotene’s construction material plans are dependent on Department of Industry and Resources approvals.

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