Nova acquires royalty on Antofagasta’s Twin Metals project

Sunset over Pose Lake, a small lake located inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Nova Royalty (TSXV: NOVR) has entered into a royalty purchase agreement with a subsidiary of Boart Longyear (ASX: BLY) to acquire an existing 2.4% net smelter return royalty on a portion of the Twin Metals project owned by Antofagasta PLC (LSE: ANTO).

Twin Metals is a copper, nickel and platinum group metals project located in the Duluth Complex mining camp of northeastern Minnesota.

“The Duluth Complex is one of the world’s great metal districts and accounts for 34% of all copper reserves and 95% of all nickel reserves in the United States,” Nova president and CEO Alex Tsukernik commented on the latest royalty purchase, which would be the company’s first in the US.

As consideration, Nova will pay up to $6 million in cash and common shares, including an upfront payment of $2 million. An additional $2 million will be paid upon the issuance of all major federal and state permits required to construct the mine. The remaining $2 million is contingent on the Twin Metals project reaching commercial production.

The Duluth Complex is one of the world’s great metal districts and accounts for 34% of all copper reserves and 95% of all nickel reserves in the US

The royalty area covers approximately 18% of the combined resources in the Maturi and Maturi Southwest deposits that comprise the entirety of the mine plan, which was set out in a prefeasibility study 2014.

The technical report discloses a 30-year mine plan, based on 527 million tonnes of proven and probable reserves.

Aggregate production is estimated at 5.8 billion pounds of copper, 1.2 billion pounds of nickel, 4 million ounces of palladium, 1.5 million ounces of platinum, 1 million ounces of gold, and 25 million ounces of silver. Total resources for the Maturi and Maturi Southwest deposits were reported at approximately 1.8 billion tonnes.

The proposed mine has been under close scrutiny for years due to the public outcry over its environmental risks, given its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

“Our project is progressing in its early stages. We have designed it in a manner that is environmentally friendly,” Antofagasta chief Ivan Arriagada recently said during a virtual event, adding that the due process of permitting for this greenfield project will take a few years.

Biden presidency

Analysts project that a Biden administration will spark a multi-year boon for EV metals such as copper and nickel, which could bolster the chances of Antofagasta securing the key federal permits.

“We can have this project permitted in a way that will allow the environmentally protected area remain that way, and at the same time can get these metals out of the ground which are required for a greener economy,” Arriagada said. The company has already filed for an initial permit to develop the Twin Metals mine project.

“The transition to electric energy from fossil fuels has become a coordinated objective of the global community,” said Nova CEO Alex Tsukernik.

“Twin Metals, with over 25 billion pounds of contained copper and 9 billion pounds of contained nickel, is a natural strategic source of these… building blocks of clean energy for North America,” Tsukernik added.

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