McEwen Mining Inc. is in talks to sell a stake in a copper project in Argentina as the gold and silver producer looks to tap into booming prices of the metal used in wiring.
The company run by Canadian gold veteran Rob McEwen is holding conversations with another mining company as part of a proposal that could see a portion of the copper project sold privately and then taken public within 12 months, McEwen said Tuesday.
“The market seems to prefer a pure copper play as opposed to a large copper project in a smaller precious metals company,” he said in an interview. “With the increase in copper price, there’s more interest.”
McEwen, the founder and former head of Goldcorp, is looking at ways to monetize both the copper project and certain silver assets to focus on its gold mines that missed guidance in past years, with the company forced to raise funds. He said those setbacks have now been turned around.
McEwen, 71, described Los Azules in San Juan province near the Chilean border as “one of the larger undeveloped copper projects in the world not owned by a major,” with potential annual production of more than 200,000 metric tons and a valuation in excess of $5 billion at today’s copper prices.
He expects to have a decision on the strategy for the project in the next month, adding that the would-be partner has the capability to take it through to production.
Argentina, where interventionist policies have held back mining, is now “looking a little more favorable” as authorities look to diversify from farming and politicians in Chile and Peru seek a greater share of mining profits.
(By James Attwood)