China’s CITIC grabs stake in Ivanhoe Mines for $560 million

Development at Kamoa, thought to hold the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade copper discovery, is progressing ahead of plan. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines.)

A Chinese state-owned conglomerate will become Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines’ (TSX:IVN) biggest shareholder after billionaire Robert Friedland’s company agreed to sell a 20% stake for about $560 million (Cdn$723m).

Under the deal, CITIC Metal will also make a $100 million loan facility available to the Canadian listed company, which said it would use the proceeds to advance its projects in southern Africa, including Ivanhoe’s flagship Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo – considered the most significant copper discovery in decades.

Ivanhoe will use the proceeds to advance its projects in southern Africa, including the Kamoa-Kakula copper deposit in DRC, which is developing in partnership with another Chinese firm — Zijin Mining.

Friedland, Ivanhoe’s founder and executive chairman, said the deal was the culmination of a 15-year relationship with CITIC. “In 2003, the original Ivanhoe Mines was grappling with the challenge of developing its vast copper-gold discoveries at the Oyu Tolgoi Project in southern Mongolia. Following extensive discussions, Ivanhoe and CITIC established a strategic alliance to cooperatively pursue a number of selected common interests in metals production and related technologies.”

Another Chinese firm, Zijin Mining Group — which acquired a 9.9% stake in Ivanhoe Mines in 2015 through a wholly-owned subsidiary — will now be entitled to exercise its existing anti-dilution rights through a concurrent private placement, which could result in additional proceeds of Cdn$78 million (about $60 million) if exercised in full, the parties said.

Once Chinese regulators clear the transaction, CITIC will have the right to appoint two directors to an enlarged board. One of them is expected to be Sun Yufeng, president of CITIC Metal Group, who will become Ivanhoe’s co-chairman alongside Friedland.

Ivanhoe Mines estimates the asset, discovered in 2007, holds the equivalent of at least 45 million tonnes of pure copper. The company aims to extract 300,000 tonnes per year once the mine is operating at full tilt.