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Rio2 to raise up to $135m for Fenix gold mine construction

The Fenix gold project, previously known as Cerro Maricunga, is located in Copiapo province, Chile. Image from Rio2.

With sights set on taking its Fenix gold project in Chile towards production, Rio2 Ltd. (TSXV: RIO) has arranged financing totaling approximately $125-$135 million for the mine’s construction.

The financing package comprises a non-binding term sheet with Wheaton Precious Metals International (WPMI) for a $50 million gold purchase agreement, a senior project debt facility of $50-$60 million through BNP Paribas, a marketed public offering of about C$25 million ($19.6m) and a non-brokered private placement to WPMI or an affiliate for proceeds of $5 million.

This financing package would allow for Rio2 to begin pre-construction activities at the Fenix gold project, prior to receiving Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval and permits for its planned 20,000 tonnes per day run of mine, dump leach operations.

The company says the Fenix gold project hosts “the largest undeveloped gold heap leach project in the Americas”

Since the outset, the primary focus of Rio2 has been to accelerate the Fenix gold project to production, the Vancouver-based miner said, adding that the mine financing package would allow the company to maintain its current schedule for first gold production in Q4 2022.

According to Rio2 chief executive Alex Black, the Fenix gold project hosts “the largest undeveloped gold heap leach project in the Americas” with a large measured and indicated gold resource of 5 million ounces, and is open to further mine optimization opportunities.

“The mine financing package is transformational for Rio2 as it will provide the resources to execute on our plans for the development of the mine,” said Jose Luis Martinez, Rio2’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

The Fenix gold project is located in the Copiapo province of Chile, within the Maricunga mineral belt. This mining district contains over 70 million ounces of gold and hosts the La Coipa and Refugio mines, as well as the Volcan, Caspiche, Lobo Marte and Cerro Casale deposits.

A 2019 feasibility study for Fenix showed that high-grade ore will be placed on the leach pad during the initial 13 years of production, and low-grade ore will be stockpiled for leaching in the subsequent three years of production, for a total mine life of 16 years.

The company said that once in operation, the mine will produce an average of 93,000 oz gold per year in the first 13 years, followed by 50,000 oz gold during the final years of production.