Quadra FNX and Sumitomo form US$724 million joint venture to develop Sierra Gorda copper-molybdenum project in Chile

Quadra FNX Mining announced on Sunday a US$724 million joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation to develop the Sierra Gorda copper-molybdenum project in Chile.

The total cost of the mine is estimated at US$2.8 billion and production is scheduled to start in 2014. Sumitomo has a 45% stake in the joint venture; Quadra FNX has 55%.

Sierra Gorda is a copper exploration project located in the Atacama Desert, Region II of Chile. According to Quadra FNX's recently completed feasibility study, the production from current sulphide reserves will average 483 M lbs of copper, 25 million lbs of molybdenum, and 64 kozs of gold per annum over a 20-year mine life.

The initial throughput rate 110,000 tonnes per day, with expansion after three years to 190,000 tpd. The 20-year mine life is based upon current sulphide resources with an upside potential to process an additional 237 Mt of oxide resources.

To pay for the project, Sumitomo will contribute the next $724 million of joint venture equity after closing. Sumitomo will then arrange a minimum $1.0 billion project financing non-recourse to Quadra FNX or, if not available, to provide to the project an $800 million loan non-recourse to Quadra FNX. Quadra FNX plans to provide its proportional share of the remaining JV funding requirements estimated at $650 million through cash on hand and debt. JP Morgan has been engaged to arrange corporate debt financing.

Paul Blythe, president and CEO of Quadra FNX, lauded the financial arrangement his company made with Sumitomo.

"In addition, the project debt structure, non-recourse to Quadra FNX, leaves us with the flexibility to pursue other growth opportunities, including the recently announced Victoria project in Sudbury," said Blythe.

""The JV with Sumitomo and the development of Sierra Gorda will provide Quadra FNX with a large, long life, low cost copper project which will allow us to move past our strategic objective of 500 million pounds of annual copper production."

Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. is a multi-asset copper and base metal producing company based in Canada. Quadra owns and operates the Robinson Mine near Ely, Nevada, where it produces copper and gold, as well as the Carlota Mine a heap leach – SX/EW copper operation in Globe/Miami, Arizona. Sumitomo Corp. is a conglomerate based in Japan. It holds interest in several coal mines worldwide.

Michael McCrae wrote this story. You can contact him at [email protected] or on twitter at @michaelmccrae.