Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines will fast-track production at its Southern African projects, after Chinese shareholder Citic Metal invested another C$612-million, pushing the company’s cash position to C$1.3-billion – about double what it needs to finance its share of the construction costs for the Kakula copper mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Citic, through its subsidiary Citic Metal Africa Investments, will invest at C$3.98 a share, which is a premium of 29% over the last closing price, Ivanhoe said on Thursday.
The news of a second major investment in less than a year buoyed the miner’s stock on the TSX, jumping by 13% to close at C$3.48 apiece.
Last year, Citic invested C$723-million in Ivanhoe, which made it the company’s largest shareholder, overtaking Robert Friedland. At the close of the latest investment, Citic Metals’ ownership will increase from 19.3% to 29.9%.
“Citic Metal has been a shareholder in Ivanhoe Mines for eight months now, and in that time Citic Metal has seen what we already know – that the Kamoa-Kakula project is unquestionably the best copper development project in the world,” Friedland said in a media statement.
The latest Citic investment would close by no later than September, which would provide Ivanhoe with the “equity cushion” required to fast-track Kamoa-Kakula’s six-million-tonne-a-year Phase 1 to production.
Ivanhoe is required to fund $540-million of the $1.1-billion project’s initial copper mine at the Kakula deposit and joint venture (JV) partner Zijin Mining an equivalent share.
The JV partners were in discussions with international export-credit agencies and equipment-finance providers, which could reduce the amount of funding that each partner would have to contribute, Ivanhoe noted.
Besides the Kamoa-Kakula project, Ivanhoe is also upgrading the Kipushi zinc mine in partnership with the DRC’s Gecamines, and is developing the Platreef project, in South Africa with its empowerment partners and a Japanese consortium led by Itochu Corporation.
Friedland stated that the company was in a position to finance its first two mines – Kakula and Kipushi – to commercial production and that it would be able to significantly advance, or achieve, production at Platreef.
Ivanhoe is developing an alternative production plan for the Platreef project, targeting significantly lower initial capital to accelerate production by using Shaft 1 as the initial production shaft. Shaft 1, currently at a depth of 855 m below the surface, is expected to reach its final depth of 980 m early next year.
The company stated that it remained in negotiations to advance project financing with a syndicate of international banks and export-credit agencies for the development of the Platreef projects. Discussions were also under way with South African financial institutions for financing for the black-economic empowerment partners’ contribution to development capital.
Meanwhile, Zijin, which acquired a 9.9% stake in Ivanhoe in 2015, would be entitled to exercise its anti-dilution rights through a concurrent private placement at C$9.98 a share, which could result in additional proceeds of up to C$67-million.