Western Copper and Gold CEO: 2018 Will See Further Growth in Copper Market

Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells discusses the Yukon-based Casino project, the company's wholly owned, billion-tonne copper-gold project.

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Western Copper and Gold (TSX:WRN,NYSEMKT:WRN) CEO Paul West-Sells outlines the company’s highlights for the past year and provides insight into what 2018 might look like for copper.

Looking back on 2017, Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells believes the company has seen significant progress in attaining permitting for the Casino project in the Yukon and developing important local relationships. Complementing this progress with the federal and territorial government announcement of an infrastructure grant for the territory and the upward trends of the copper market, 2017 has been a good year for the company.

In the article below, West-Sells outlines the highlights of the past year and provides insight into what the copper market might see in 2018. Below is a video of our interview with Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells, followed by the transcript. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Investing News Network: Please provide an overview of Western Copper and Gold and the work it has done in 2017.

Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells: Western Copper and Gold has one asset, the Casino copper-gold project located in the Yukon, Canada. The Casino project has 18 million ounces of gold and 10 billion pounds of copper and we have been developing it for the past 10 years. It has a full bankable feasibility study at $3 copper and $1,250 gold, with an IRR of over 22 percent.

The key focus of 2017 has been to prepare our project for panel review in 2018. To this effect, we have been working on three different activities. The first has been to work with the First Nations communities to develop traditional land-use studies. The second has been to engage communities; we have done open houses in Whitehorse and in some of the surrounding areas. The third is a key activity and it includes making use of the best available technology for processing tailings, which came out of BC.

The point for us is to make sure that we have First Nations, the territorial government, the federal government, regulatory bodies and the Yukon as a whole aligned in terms of what we are doing with our tailings waste. That is a process that began in April 2017 and should be complete by mid-2018. Once that is locked down, moving through the final stage of permitting should be fairly straightforward.

INN: How has the announced government infrastructure grant for the Yukon affected Western Copper and Gold?

PW-S: This was a tremendous announcement for Western Copper and Gold. We had the combined presence of the prime minister of Canada, the premier of the Yukon territory and several First Nations chiefs making the announcement of a major infrastructure package for the Yukon. This was the only time the current prime minister has visited the Yukon, and it was to make this announcement.

For the interest of Casino shareholders, this package is for a road that leads straight to the Casino property. This road, named the Casino Road in the application, establishes our project as the only copper project that has this extent of government support, something that is good for us, for Canada, for the Yukon and for First Nations as well.

INN: How has the growth in copper prices impacted Western Copper and Gold and its share price?

PW-S: Since the end of 2016, we have seen a couple of big moves in the copper price. We saw it go from $2 to $2.50 around a year ago, and we saw our share price move, too. This summer, copper moved from $2.80 to over $3, which nobody thought was going to happen, and we saw our share price move up too. Being a big copper project in a good location, we are able to leverage copper prices as they trend upwards.

INN: What are your expectations for 2018?

PW-S: When I look to 2018, I envision that the company will be completing the last key pieces that will move us into the final stages of permitting. The real excitement, however, is in the copper market. You are looking at a copper market that has leaped over $3, and I think that in 2018 we will see it reach $3.50 or $4 quite easily. More importantly, for shareholders, I expect to see M&As emerging in the copper space, something we haven’t seen much of yet. This was the year we were setting the table, and next year we will be having our feast.

CEO interviews are part of investor education campaigns for clients advertising on the Investing News Network. Important news is contextualized by CEOs, and the resulting interviews are disseminated to the Investing News Network audience because they have value to market watchers.

The Investing News Network interviews a CEO for an understanding of their perspective on the company, the investment potential of the company and market news related to the company. The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities.


The interview below was originally posted in October 2017. Please scroll up for the latest Western Copper and Gold interview.

Western Copper and Gold CEO: How $360-million Infrastructure Package for the Yukon Will Impact Shareholders

Western Copper and Gold (TSX:WRN,NYSEMKT:WRN) is focused on developing the Casino project, its wholly owned, billion-tonne copper-gold project. The project is one of the most economic greenfield projects in the world, and is favorably located in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

The value of being positioned in the Yukon increased recently following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of a $360-million infrastructure package in the territory, $130 million of which will be dedicated to developing roads that access Casino.

“Construction of this road will provide jobs and business opportunities to the communities and First Nations in the short term, and will provide much needed infrastructure to the Casino project that will provide significant benefit to these communities, First Nations and the Yukon in general for the long term,” said Western Copper and Gold President and CEO Paul West-Sells.

Read the transcript of our full conversation with West-Sells below.

Investing News Network: What is ahead for copper prices?

Western Copper and Gold President and CEO Paul West-Sells: It’s been a really exciting time in the copper space. We saw copper shoot up to $2.50 per pound at the end of last year, and this year it’s gone up to $3, $3.10, almost hitting $3.20 this weekend. At this rate, we might reach $3.20 before the end of this year.

There are some fundamental reasons for why copper is as strong as it is. These include reasonable demand from China, the US and Europe and, more importantly, the current level of supply. At present, we have not seen any mines built or planned in the last five years, and there’s a dearth of supply. Investors and speculators are aware of this and, as a result, the price of copper is rising in anticipation of the need for a larger supply which necessitates higher copper prices.

INN: How do higher copper prices affect Western Copper and Gold?

PW-S: Our Casino project is not directly affected by higher copper and gold prices. Our project works at $2 copper, so at $3, what we are seeing is a significant increase in profit. At $3 copper and $1,300-per-ounce gold, we have a project with an IRR of over 20 percent and a $2-billion NPR, which we consider to be spectacular returns.

INN: Prime Minister Trudeau recently made a significant infrastructure announcement for the Yukon. Please explain how this will benefit Western Copper and Gold.

PW-S: Trudeau’s announcement is one that is very exciting for us as well as for the Yukon Territory. The federal and territorial governments jointly announced a $360-million infrastructure package for the Yukon. The mandate of this package is to build a number of roads that will improve access, particularly for the mining sector. What is particularly exciting for Western and its shareholders is that approximately $130 million of that package will go directly to roads providing access to the Casino project.

INN: What is next in terms of the impact of this announcement?

PW-S: This funding request has been a long time in the making. Close to three years ago we began working on it with the Yukon territorial government, which, like the federal government, transitioned from being Conservative to Liberal. Working with them, part of the condition for receiving this funding was securing First Nations support for the initiative. We obtained first-level support from First Nations in the region and that helped to trigger this funding, and it was why the prime minister was present to make the announcement. Now that we have this support, the two levels of government will put together an agreement, which will be released fairly soon, and after that we will be able to start digging.

CEO interviews are part of investor education campaigns for clients advertising on the Investing News Network. Important news is contextualized by CEOs, and the resulting interviews are disseminated to the Investing News Network audience because they have value to market watchers.

The Investing News Network interviews a CEO for an understanding of their perspective on the company, the investment potential of the company and market news related to the company. The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities.

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