Equinox to buy Premier Gold in $480 million all-stock deal

Historic headframe at the Hardrock gold project in Ontario. (Image courtesy of Premier Gold Mines.)

Canada’s Equinox Gold (TSX, NYSE: EQX) is buying Premier Gold Mines (TSX: PG), which will spin out its Nevada assets in a new US-focused gold miner to be called i-80 Gold Corp.

The all-stock deal, valued at C$612 million ($480m) hands Equinox Gold Premier’s 50% interest in the Hardrock project in Ontario, the Mercedes Mine in Mexico and the Hasaga and Rahill-Bonanza properties in Red Lake, Ontario.

Centerra Gold (TSX: CG) agreed on Tuesday to sell its 50% shareholding in the Hardrock project to Orion Mine Finance for $225-million plus contingencies of about $75-million.

One of Premier’s most valuable assets is its 50% stake in the Hardrock gold project in Ontario, expected to produce more than 400,000 ounces of gold over a 14-year mine life

Once built, the mine is expected to produce more than 400,000 ounces of gold over a 14-year mine life.

Premier’s South-Arturo and McCoy-Cove properties will be held by i-80 Gold, which will also complete Premier’s previously announced acquisition of the Getchell project, all in Nevada.

Equinox said that it would undertake a C$75 million equity financing fully underwritten by its chairman, Ross Beaty, to help fund the deal.

The proposal will see Premier shareholders receive 0.1967 of an Equinox Gold share and 0.4 of a share of i-80 Gold for each Premier share held. Equinox shares closed at $13.10 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday, while Premier shares closed at $2.52.

Premier investors will own 16% of Equinox Gold once the deal is complete, as well as 70% of the shares of i-80 Gold. The spin-off company will be led by Premier’s current boss, Ewan Downie.

Equinox Gold will own the remaining 30% of i-80 Gold.

“This transaction is exactly the kind of accretive Americas-focused growth we promised shareholders when we started Equinox Gold at the beginning of 2018,” Beaty said in the statement.

The friendly acquisition is subject to court approval and Premier shareholders’ approval at a meeting scheduled for February.

Steady growth

The deal boosts Equinox Gold in the gold market, building on the company’s acquisition of Leagold Mining Corporation. The parties completed their merger earlier this year, creating one of the world’s top gold producing companies operating entirely in the Americas.

The Vancouver-based company moved from developer to producer status in July, when it kicked off commercial production at its second gold mine, Aurizona, in northeastern Brazil.

Taken from: Equinox-Premier Presentation, Dec. 2020.

Equinox is also advancing construction at the previously-mined Castle Mountain, located about 320km north of its Mesquite operation, which reached commercial production in November.

Gold producers have benefitted from historic-high metal prices as unprecedented stimulus measures around the world were unleashed on financial markets.

Endeavour Mining (TSX: EDV) in November took over Toronto-based Teranga Gold in an all-stock transaction worth about C$2.44 billion.

In May, Canada’s SSR Mining (TSX: SSRM) bought Denver-based miner Alacer Gold for $2.4-billion.