The South Korean government has, in a roundabout way, become the controlling interest in Yukon’s Minto mine.
The mine’s owner is Capstone Mining Corporation, a Vancouver-based mining junior that has aspirations to become a bigger player on the global commodities market. It moved one step closer to that goal on Monday, with an announcement it would buy a big copper, iron and gold project in Chile.
This purchase was possible thanks to a partnership forged between Capstone and the Korea Resources Corporation, which is wholly owned by the government of South Korea.
Part of the deal involves the Korean company buying an 11-per-cent stake in Capstone’s stock, worth $170 million, to make it the largest shareholder.
Another part of the deal will see a Korean representative appointed to Capstone’s board of directors.
Other than Minto, Capstone currently operates a copper, silver, zinc and lead mine in Zacatecas state, Mexico. Darren Pylot, Capstone’s president and CEO, said in a release the Chilean acquisition is “consistent with Capstone’s strategy of building a growth-focused mid-tier copper producer in the Americas.”
The deal likely wouldn’t have been possible without the Koreans’ deep pockets. In the end, the Korean company will own a 30 per cent stake in the Chilean mine, in exchange for $210 million to Capstone.
This is hardly the first time a metal-hungry Asia helped back Yukon mining companies. Yukon Zinc Corporation, which owns the Wolverine mine, is wholly-owned by the Chinese.
And Selwyn Resources, which wants to develop a massive zinc deposit at Howard’s Pass near the Northwest Territories border, sold an equal stake in its play to a Chinese company for $100 million.
Capstone’s new Chilean property is called Santo Domingo. Its indicated resources are equivalent to 486 million tonnes of copper.
By comparison, Minto has proven and probable resources of 11.9 million tonnes of metal, although the company suspects it’s sitting on far more. It has four undeveloped deposits outside Minto’s main pit estimated to contain 825 million pounds of copper.
Minto’s concentrate is shipped from Skagway to smelters in Asia. So it’s possible that some of its metal makes its way back to the territory, as cars sold by Kia, one of South Korea’s best-known exports.
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