Ivanhoe studies options for African projects facing funding crunch, shares plunge

Africa-focused Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) said Thursday it is studying a number of “potentially significant corporate and project-level options” to secure timely funding for developing its Congo mines.*

Delivering its financial results for the first quarter of the year, the company founded by mining legend Robert Friedland, said it would allocate most of its funds to its Platreef discovery of platinum, palladium, nickel, copper, gold and rhodium, located in in South Africa's Limpopo province.

Ivanhoe said among the options it's evaluating to deal with insufficient funds are splitting the company’s projects into separate publicly-traded entities, asset sales, joint ventures, and alternative stock exchange listings.

The billionaire mining legend, responsible for the discovery and development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia before Rio Tinto’s (ASX, LON:RIO) acquisition, has big plans for the DRC-based Kamoa and Kipushi projects. Last year, he committed $24m in share placing to fund these developments, which make up 83% of the Ivanhoe's net asset value, especially Kamoa, said to be the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposit.

The Vancouver-based miner said it had consolidated working capital of about $149.8 million as of March 31, down from $201.7 million at Dec. 31. It needs about $1.7 billion to bring the bring its Platreef mine into production.

But access to financing is uncertain, according to Reuters, which makes it difficult to determine whether additional funding would be available in the near future.

Ivanhoe Mines may have to abandon mines in Congo, shares plunge

Ivanhoe’s overall results were not upbeat either. The company posted a larger loss in the first quarter, because of higher exploration costs. Net loss widened to $48.8 million in the quarter ended March 31 from $42.4 million a year earlier.

Shares in the company, which debuted in a $300 million IPO as Ivanplats in October 2012, were down almost 7% to $1.67 at 11:40 ET on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday. They have fallen more than 27% in the last 12 months.

(*) The original story stated Ivanhoe Mines may not be able to develop two mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo unless it receives substantial cash injections by the end of June.  That is not the case. For a detailed explanation of the company's plans, please read the following statement.