The Lyon County Land Bill, which would allow for an accelerated permitting path for Stage 2 of Nevada Copper’s Pumpkin Hollow project, could pass in the Senate next week. The bill has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which has has passed in Congress without fail for 51 years in a row.
In a Wednesday update regarding activities at its Pumpkin Hollow project, Nevada Copper (TSX:NCU) shared some very good news. The Lyon County Land Bill, which would allow for an accelerated permitting path for Stage 2 of the project, could pass in the Senate next week.
What makes the company so optimistic? The bill, also called the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act, has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That bill has passed in Congress without fail for 51 years in a row, leading the company to state that it is “very confident that the NDAA, and thus, our land bill, will pass.”
Adding weight to that statement, Nevada Copper’s president and CEO, Giulio Bonifacio, stated, “[w]e are advised by the Nevada Congressional delegation and our Washington representatives that the NDAA, as now published, has broad bipartisan support in the Senate and House. Senator Heller and Reid have announced that they expect this bill to pass in both the House and Senate by next week.”
Investors were certainly receptive to the announcement — at close of day on Wednesday, shares of Nevada Copper were up 20 percent, or 23 cents, trading at $1.38.
Key to moving forward
As those following the company will know, the Stage 2 mine at Pumpkin Hollow will dwarf the Stage 1 mine, which is already under construction. On its own, Stage 2 includes over 4.1 billion pounds of copper reserves that will be recovered over its 22-year mine life, and the mine will churn out 70,000 tonnes of ore per day.
Of course, getting the mine permitted is a big deal. In a research note from Dundee Capital Markets, Joseph Gallucci said, “[t]his is a major catalyst for NCU,” adding that the bill “would remove a significant portion of the permitting risk for Stage 2.”
Explaining how it works, the analyst said that the bill would allow the city of Yerington to purchase the federal land on which Stage 2 is partially located, moving all permitting requirements under the jurisdictions of Yerington and Nevada. In other words, the bill “will eliminate NCU’s need for Federal permitting,” meaning that the project will be subject to much shorter state permitting only.
The land transfer must take place within 180 days of the bill passing, and Nevada Copper is already working with Yerington to prepare to meet that deadline. The company would complete the remaining permitting for Stage 2 at the same time.
Poised for a rerating?
While Galluci noted that the company still has to address financing for its Stage 1 mine, he stated that Nevada Copper “is poised for a re-rating” pending the completion of a shaft at Pumpkin Hollow in 2015 and developments regarding the land bill.
Comparing Nevada Copper’s valuation to the valuation of Augusta Resources (TSX:AZC) in its acquisition by Hudbay Minerals (TSX:HBM), the analyst suggested the company could be valued between $3.69 to $6.02 per share. Overall, he’s given Nevada Copper a “buy” rating with a target price of $5 — certainly much higher than Wednesday’s close.
Investors in the copper space will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the progress of the land bill next week.
Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Nevada Copper is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.