Gold-focused Metminco Dips Toes into Nickel

- September 19th, 2018

Metminco said it will buy private company Sunshine Metals in a scrip transaction to give it 80-percent ownership of the Jejovo nickel project in the Solomon Islands.

Australian explorer and miner Metminco (ASX:MNC) has announced plans to acquire the Jejovo nickel project in the Solomon Islands in a bid to tap into the lucrative and growing nickel market.

In a release on Wednesday (September 19), Metminco said it will buy private company Sunshine Metals in a scrip transaction to give it 80-percent ownership of Jejovo on Santa Isabel Island, as well as 80-percent ownership of the Tausere project — an early-stage bauxite project located on another island.

The balance of each project belongs to landowners.

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For the projects, Metminco will pay Sunshine AU$1.5 million (minus a AU$50,000 non-refundable deposit) and 250 million shares valued at another AU$1.5 million to cover agreed debts.

The acquisition will be staged, with Metminco issuing another 250 million shares to Sunshine after it receives a JORC-compliant resource estimate for Jejovo of at least 125,000 tonnes of contained nickel metal at a 0.7 percent cut-off. A final 500 million shares will be issued after Metminco receives a mining license to proceed with the project.

Executive chairman of Metminco, Kevin Wilson, said that timing was key in the decision to acquire Jejovo, which is located on the coast and has direct shipping potential.

“The acquisition of the Jejevo nickel project, gives Metminco exposure to nickel at a time when rising battery manufacture is expected to accelerate demand for the metal. We will commence advancing Jejevo as soon as the acquisition completes.”

Metminco would be adding Jejevo to a portfolio of gold projects in Colombia, which it highlights as its focus, as well as three copper and polymetallic projects in Chile.

In order to proceed with Jejevo, Metminco must raise AU$3 million through equity capital raising and also successfully complete its due diligence.

To get to AU$3 million, Metminco said it would issue a private placement of 135 million shares at AU$0.4c to raise AU$540,000, and another AU$2,514,116 through a pro rata renounceable rights issue.

Jejevo is described by Metminco as having “attractive nickel grades” and a project that provides the company exposure to nickel prices “in a period when demand growth is expected to be driven by, in particular, the growing market for batteries to support increasing electric vehicle production.”

Previous owners of the project progressed it to an advanced stage, with 428 holes drilled by Sumitomo Metal Mining (TSE:5713) in the 70s.

“The nickel mineralization encountered in these holes are reported to have average grades ranging between 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent nickel over 5m to 7m in thickness,” said Metminco.

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The company said that with its own analysis of Sumitomo’s data, it estimated Jejevo had an exploration target of approximately 10-15 million tonnes grading 1.1-1.3 percent nickel.

“Metminco intends to assess the existing data, and undertake any confirmatory studies with the aim of generating a JORC resource in 2019 to support economic studies on the deposit,” it said, adding that it would seek a mining license in the same year.

On Tuesday (September 18), nickel was valued at US$12,310 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange. While 2018 has seen the metal reach four-year highs — trading at US$15,754 in early June — nickel has seen a yearly low this month, down at US$12,200 a tonne on September 10, as trade war jitters ravage base metal values.

So far, nickel has proven the most resilient, losing only 2.9 percent of its value year-to-date — compared to zinc, which was down 32 percent year-to-date as of Monday September 17.

On the Australian Securities Exchange, Metminco was down 20 percent to AU$0.004 when share trading resumed for the company on Wednesday.

The company has also announced it would be delisting from the London Stock Exchange in October, citing high costs and low activity.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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