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TORONTO, April 2, 2018 /CNW/ - The market for initial public offerings paused for a breather in the first quarter of 2018 as issuers and investors assessed the implications of interest rate hikes, recent U.S. tax changes, market volatility and threats to world trade. But if the pipeline of new issues is any indication, the market won't stay quiet for long.

The list of potential new issues stands in stark contrast to a quarter that saw just nine new issues completed on all exchanges for a value of $157 million. By comparison, total value of IPOs in the first quarter of 2017 reached  $571 million from six new equity issues across all Canadian exchanges — the second-best initial quarter result in the past decade, the PwC survey reported.

The first quarter of 2018 saw one issue completed on the TSX with a total value of $150 million. The CSE contributed three issues and the Venture added five with a total value of $7 million.

"A slow first quarter is really pretty normal," explains Dean Braunsteiner, PwC national IPO leader. "With the rush of activity at the end of last year, it isn't surprising to see the market taking stock — particularly in light of the extreme volatility we saw in the quarter. I also believe the market is still assessing the implications of the new U.S. tax regime. The outlook for the NAFTA negotiations and U.S. trade sanctions, and interest rates are all giving issuers lots to consider."

The sole issue on TSX in the first quarter was the IPO of Pinnacle Renewable Holdings Inc.  Pinnacle is an industrial wood pellet manufacturer and distributor and the first issue from the energy sector this year.

The pipeline of new issues points to an uptick in activity for the balance of the year, Braunsteiner says, if the market can see beyond all of the short-term disruption. "There are some interesting issues in the wings," he says.

What has carried over from last year is the slow improvement in activity in the mining sector where seven new issues were registered on the CSE and Venture Exchange, Braunsteiner says.

Although the PwC survey does not count reverse take-overs by private firms as IPOs, Braunsteiner has watched a number of companies take that route to public ownership recently. "Some companies perceive it as an easier, less expensive route to going public. That's debatable. But while it isn't a significant number overall, reverse take-overs represent a channel that bears watching, particularly as new entrants in the busy cannabis sector jockey for a place in public markets," says Braunsteiner. There were nearly a dozen  reverse take-overs that appeared on Canadian exchanges in the first quarter.

PwC has conducted its survey of the IPO market in Canada for more than 15 years. The reports are issued on a quarterly basis to provide information to the corporate sector, investors, the media and others that will help them put the market into better perspective. For the purposes of the survey, investment vehicles such as structured products are not included in overall survey results because they do not represent new equity raised for operating companies. New issues from companies that are created from the reverse takeover of an existing public company are also not included in the survey.

Follow PwC on Twitter at @PwC_Can.ada_LLP and on Facebook at


VANCOUVER, March 29, 2018 /CNW/ - The BC Innovation Council, a Crown agency that drives innovation development and adoption in British Columbia, is excited to announce the winners of its fourth BCIC Ignite Awards. A record total of $990,000 was awarded to four BC research projects that aim to solve industry problems in the natural resources and applied sciences. In total, BCIC has awarded $3.5 million in Ignite funding since the program launched in 2016.

The four projects demonstrated the ability to succeed in diverse fields including environmental engineering, biotechnology, and agriculture. Award criteria is based on commercial and technical viability as well as the ability to be market ready within three years. Research projects must address an industry problem with the potential for significant benefit to British Columbia, and be realized by a group of academic and industry members.

The four awarded research projects, with their academic and industry members, are:

  • Clean Technology: Manoj Singh, CEO of Acuva Technologies, and Dr. Fariborz Taghipour of UBC were awarded $300,000 to develop a new, cost-efficient and maintenance-free ultraviolet water purification device that's capable of off-the-grid operation, that can benefit small, rural and marginalized communities.
  • Biotechnology: Darrel Fry, CEO of Advanced BioCarbon 3D, and Jason Taylor of Selkirk College were awarded $300,000 to develop a new type of 3D-printing filament from 100% biodegradable, engineering grade plastics and carbon fiber derived from lignin, which are the natural glue-like fibres found inside of wood.
  • Optical imaging: Dr. Manish Kulkarni, CEO of Seymour Vision, and Dr. Marinko Sarunic of SFU were awarded $300,000 to develop a high resolution retinal-imaging scanner capable of cellular level imaging that will one day revolutionize eye care, helping ophthalmologists diagnose eye diseases before vision loss occurs.
  • Agriculture: Dr. Rob Stephenson, CTO of Muddy River Technologies, and Kelly Sveinson of Langara College were awarded $90,000 to develop a simple and inexpensive solution to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from animal manures using a magnesium electrocoagulation process to help combat the issue of soil degradation and water contamination from nutrient overload in the agricultural sector.

"Each year, BCIC Ignite enables research teams to do remarkable work honing their innovations with industry partners and taking their solutions to market. Each of these projects has the potential to make a real difference for the people of B.C.," said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. "Congratulations to the 2018 winners who have once again raised the bar with tech solutions that keep our economy strong, sustainable and globally competitive." 

Together with BCIC funding, a total of $3 million is being contributed to the four projects as a result of the unique BCIC Ignite funding model. BCIC Ignite requires applicants to leverage award funds at a ratio of two matching dollars to every BCIC Ignite dollar. More than $11 million, including leveraged funds, has been contributed to BCIC Ignite projects to date.

The BCIC Ignite Program has helped create several success stories since its launch in 2016. Most notably, former Ignite Award winners Jetti Resources secured $24 million in Series A funding and Hydra Energy was named to the 2018 Ready to Rocket list.

"The BCIC Ignite Program helps turn cutting-edge research into ground-breaking, innovative technology that will significantly benefit British Columbia," says Shirley Vickers, President and CEO of the BC Innovation Council. "Year after year, we see meaningful collaborations between industry and academia that are fuelling economic growth and improving the lives of people across the province."

Nick Rockel, Editor-in-Chief of BCBusiness, emceed the awards event, which was held at TELUS Garden in downtown Vancouver.

BCIC Ignite is funded by the Natural Resources and Applied Sciences (NRAS) Endowment Fund, which was established by the Province of British Columbia to enhance the quality of life for British Columbians by building strong environments in research and development, advanced training, technology transfer, and commercialization.

Several BCIC Ignite research projects will be featured at the #BCTECH Summit, which takes place May 14-16 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The 3rd annual Summit is the largest technology event in Western Canada and welcomes Microsoft as returning title sponsor.

For more information about the program and winners, visit


JOHANNESBURG, March 29, 2018 /CNW/ - Gold Fields Limited (Gold Fields) (JSE, NYSE: GFI) is pleased to announce it has, through a wholly owned subsidiary, entered into a definitive agreement subject to certain customary conditions to form a 50:50 incorporated joint venture with Canada's Asanko Gold, Inc (TSX/NYSE AMERICAN: AKG) (Asanko). The Gold Fields subsidiary has agreed to acquire a 50% stake in Asanko Gold Ghana Limited's (AGG) 90% interest in the Asanko Gold Mine, associated properties and exploration rights in Ghana (AGM). The AGM is a multi-deposit complex, with two main deposits, Nkran and Esaase, and nine known satellite deposits. The purchase consideration comprises an upfront payment of US$165m on closing of the transaction and a deferred payment of US$20m.

In addition, Gold Fields' subsidiary agrees to subscribe to a 9.9% share placement in Asanko by way of a private placement of 22,354,657 Asanko shares at a price of approximately US$0.79, equal to the five-day VWAP on the day prior to date of this announcement, for a total consideration of US$17.6m. The subscription will close shortly after the date of this announcement, and is not conditional on completion of the joint venture transaction.

The acquisition will be funded from cash and/or by drawing down on Gold Fields existing debt facilities. Importantly, the AGM is an in-production asset that generates EBITDA and cash flow and does not require any additional investment by the JV partners.

Rationale for the Acquisition

  1. Portfolio management is one of Gold Fields' strategic objectives, as we continually seek to improve the quality of our portfolio (by lowering our all-in costs (AIC) and extending mine lives) to enhance Gold Field's cash generation.
  2. The Asanko joint venture will give immediate access to low-cost production ounces, increasing the quality of the Gold Fields portfolio - Asanko's guidance for 2019-2023 is average annual production of 253koz (100% basis) at all-in sustaining costs (AISC) of US$860/oz, with a life-of-mine of at least 15 years. Further, the sizeable resource base of the asset is immediately accretive to Gold Fields in terms of life, with the potential for further discoveries on the large, relatively unexplored, tenement package (c.540km[2]) held by Asanko.
  3. The transaction is also in line with our current growth strategy of focusing on jurisdictions in which we already have an established footprint. As the AGM is located in Ghana, we are adding an asset in a country where Gold Fields has extensive experience, having operated in Ghana for over 20 years.

The transaction exceeds our requirement of a return of 15% at a gold price of US$1,300/oz, with a payback period of five years out of an anticipated life-of-mine of at least 15 years. The transaction is demonstrably accretive to Gold Fields. We are comfortable that despite our current investment programme (Damang and Gruyere) this acquisition is well within our balance sheet capacity, particularly as it is a producing asset.


March 29, 2018

Heat exchangers are widely used across a range of industries, including food manufacturing, chemical processing, water treatment and renewable energy production. As well as basic heating and cooling, they are used for a wide range of other processes including pasteurization, sterilization, crystallization and evaporation. With so many uses, and an almost infinite number of materials which can be treated, it is unsurprising that many substances cause issues for simple plate and tubular heat exchangers. One way to overcome the challenges presented by complex mixtures, particulates or viscous fluids is to use a scraped surface heat exchanger, such as the patented HRS Unicus Series.

The Unicus from HRS Heat Exchangers has been specifically designed to provide unrivalled heat transfer with a wide range of difficult materials across a range of industries, particularly those which have a high fouling potential (therefore limiting heat transfer), but which at the same time need delicate handling to preserve fragile product integrity. A process of continual improvement means that Unicus heat exchangers are available with a wide range of scraper types, providing even more choice for applications from food pasteurization to biomass pre-treatment.

The Unicus Series, which is ideal for industrial and hygienic applications, is based on traditional shell and tube heat exchangers, with the addition of a patented stainless steel scraping mechanism which is hydraulically moved back and forth within each interior tube. This movement performs two key functions. Firstly, it minimizes potential fouling of the product by keeping the tube wall clean. Secondly, the movement creates turbulence within the material. Both of these actions help to increase heat transfer rates and together, they create a highly efficient heat transfer process ideal for viscous and high fouling materials.

Another benefit is the fact that the separate hydraulic action means that the speed of the scrapers (which are available in a number of different designs) is highly controllable and can be optimized for the product being processed. This means that materials which are susceptible to shear stress or pressure damage can be handled gently to prevent such damage while still providing high levels of heat transfer.

Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director at HRS Heat Exchangers, comments: “The HRS Unicus series has proved particularly useful in handling viscous food products where texture and consistency are important attributes. For example a client was producing pizza sauce which sheared when subjected to too much pressure, making it unsuitable for the end use – it literarily wouldn’t stay on the pizza. The Unicus means that effective heat transfer can be carried out at low pressure overcoming such problems.”

Each Unicus heat exchanger consists of three elements: a hydraulic cylinder and power pack, a separation chamber to ensure hygiene and preserve product separation from the motor, and the heat exchanger itself. In smaller units a pneumatic cylinder can be supplied instead of a hydraulic unit. The heat exchanger consists of a number of tubes (depending on the specification), each of which contains a stainless steel rod to which the appropriate scraping elements are fitted. Using a range of materials including Teflon and PEEK (Polyarylethe-retherketone), these provide different internal geometry setups according to the application; such as 120o scrapers for large particulates and 360o scrapers for viscous fluids without particulates.

The Unicus Series is scalable according to need, simply by increasing the shell diameter and adding more interior tubes as required, from one tube up to 80. A key feature of the unit is the specially designed seals which separate the inner tube from the separation chamber. With the exact seal design depending on the product application, this prevents leakage of the product and ensures internal and external hygiene. A standard range of models for food processing or industrial applications provide heat transfer areas from 0.7 to 10 m2, while larger models up to 120 m2 can be made according to specific requirements.

The prevention of fouling can be particularly important for evaporation applications, so HRS Heat Exchangers have developed a special version of the Unicus for industrial evaporation systems where volume reduction is vital. The scraping action keeps the heat transfer surfaces clean, meaning that Unicus evaporators can concentrate materials to a level beyond that typically achieved with traditional technologies. The Unicus evaporators can be used in either multi-effect setup or in combination with mechanical vapor recompression.

“Not only does the scraping action improve heat transfer, but it also allows continuous operation in many situations, increasing plant productivity,” adds Matt. “Over many years we have developed the design of the Unicus so that we have versions and specifications for use in most industries.”


March 28, 2018

The British Columbia government recently announced it will provide a large tax incentive to promote the building of a natural gas liquefaction and export facility in Kitimat. The announcement is a bright spark in an otherwise gloomy environment for energy transport and export infrastructure.

The Kitimat facility will export liquefied natural gas - a cleaner, lower-greenhouse gas fuel option - to Asia and other foreign markets. We know that markets abroad are eager to import natural gas from Canada, a reliable democracy with some of the highest environmental standards in the world. According to LNG Canada, the consortium that will build the facility, between 4,500 and 7,500 jobs will be created at the peak of construction. They estimate another 450 to 800 operational jobs will be created if the full project is completed. The facility will produce 26 million tons per year of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Getting the Kitimat project built would mark a huge step forward on the LNG front, and momentarily disrupt the narrative that Canada can no longer build conventional energy projects. As we reported in 2015, delays in LNG exports come with a large price tag. Under a conservative assumption that actual sales of B.C. LNG to Asia-Pacific importers would comprise only 11 to 20 per cent of the potential Asian LNG market in 2020, the annual export revenues lost due to delay would be some C$22.5 billion in 2020, rising to C$24.8 billion in 2025.

While B.C. Premier John Horgan should be commended for encouraging this important energy infrastructure project, it's critical that his conditions - such as ensuring the project fits with B.C.'s GHG emission goals - not derail the project.

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), crude oil production, primarily heavy crude, is expected to rise in coming years, increasing by 1.3 million barrel per day from 2016 to 2030. That translates into more than 1.5 million barrels per day of additional crude oil supplies that will require transport to markets. Given the steady growth in oil production and lack of adequate transport capacity, Canada urgently needs new pipeline infrastructure to transport heavy crude production from Western Canada to Gulf Coast refining hubs and access to overseas markets, breaking our captive market to the United States.

As reported by Bloomberg in 2017, the three proposed pipeline projects (Trans Mountain expansion, Mainline Line 3 Replacement project and Keystone XL) in various stages of development could transport Canada's additional oil production by increasing the export capacity of Western Canadian oil producers by 1.5 million barrels per a day. However, even if these projects overcome their regulatory hurdles (a big if), no new capacity will come online until at least late 2019.

Again, there's a lot on the line for Canada. As we calculated in 2016, if Canada could export an additional million barrels of oil to world markets, and get $60 a barrel for its oil (the world price as of this writing is about US$65 a barrel), Canada could net an additional $4.2 billion in export revenues.

Energy exports could help propel Canada's somewhat lacklustre economic performance to greater heights, creating private-sector earnings and employment, and generating royalties and revenues that help pay for the social spending (health care, education, etc.) that Canadians demand.

But to deliver on that promise, our energy resources must secure access to tidewater and get to lucrative markets abroad. Oil and LNG are vital to the future of Canada's energy sector.

Horgan's flicker of light on the Kitimat LNG project must be matched provincially and federally to get pipelines built and free Canada's energy markets from excessive (and increasingly perilous) reliance on our sole customer to the south.

Let there be light!


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