HudBay Minerals Inc. [HBM-TSX, NYSE] said Thursday March 21 that it has completed the permitting process at its Rosemont Project in Arizona, a development that has also been welcomed by Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. [WPM-TSX, NYSE].
HudBay is an integrated mining company, primarily producing copper concentrate (containing copper, gold and silver), zinc concentrate and zinc metal. The company owns four polymetallic mines, four ore concentrators and a zinc production facility.
The operations are located in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Peru and Arizona.
The Rosemont project is an open-pit copper-molybdenum-silver porphyry-skarn deposit located about 50 km southeast of Tucson. It is expected to be one of the largest copper mines in the U.S., accounting for 10% of total U.S. copper production.
Wheaton Precious Metals issued a press release on Thursday to remind investors of its precious metals purchase agreement with HudBay on the Rosemont Project. In exchange for an upfront payment of $230 million, paid in two instalments, Wheaton is entitled to 100% of the payable silver and gold production from Rosemont at a cash price of US$450 per ounce for gold and US$2.90 per ounce of silver, subject to an annual adjustment for inflation.
On Thursday, HudBay said the project has achieved a key milestone after receiving the approved Mine Plan of Operations (MPO) from the U.S. Forest Service. The issuance of the MPO is the final administrative step in the permitting process.
“Receiving the MPO is an important milestone that completes the permitting process at Rosemont,” said Alan Hair, HudBay’s President and CEO. “With the receipt of the Section 404 Water Permit, an agreement to consolidate 100% ownership and receipt of the approved MPO, HudBay continues to move the project forward,’’ he said.
“Rosemont is now a fully-permitted, shovel-ready copper project and we look forward to developing this world class asset.”
HudBay shares eased 0.65% or $0.06 to $9.24 on Thursday. The 52-week range is $4.50 and $10.22.
Wheaton advanced 5.64% or $1.72 to $32.22 on Thursday to trade in a 52-week range of $3.073 and $19.87.
HudBay said Rosemont is one of the world’s best undeveloped copper projects, one that delivers at 15.5% after-tax unlevered IRR at a copper price of US$3.00 a pound, based on the results of a 2017 feasibility study by HudBay.
Rosemont is expected to produce approximately 127,000 tonnes of copper annually at a cash cost of US$1.14 per pound (net of by-product credits) over the first 10 years of operations.
“We applaud the hard work and patience HudBay has put forth in order to advance the Rosemont Project to this stage,” said Wheaton President and CEO Randy Smallwood. “Rosemont is an ideal fit for Wheaton’s portfolio of high-quality assets, and when it is in production, should add well over 50,000 gold equivalent ounces to our already growing production profile,” Smallwood said.