Yukon zinc deal with Chinese firm drives investor interest
Investors have pushed stocks in a Yukon zinc mining project near the top of the most-traded list this week, on the heels of a major deal with a Chinese mining and smelter company.
Selwyn Resources Ltd. announced this week that Yunnan Chihong Zinc and Germanium Co. is investing $100 million to explore and develop the Howard's Pass zinc-lead-silver property, which straddles about 38 kilometres of the Yukon-N.W.T. border.
The tentative agreement between Selwyn Resources, which owns the property, and Yunnan Chihong means the Chinese company would get a 50 per cent share of a zinc deposit that's touted to be one of the biggest in the world.
The agreement should be finalized by June.
More than four million shares traded hands on Tuesday as a result of the announcement, with Selwyn stocks closing at about 25 cents a share -- well above the six cents those stocks were selling for earlier this year.
About 1.1 million shares traded on Wednesday, but the company's stock price stayed at 25 cents by the end of the day.
Selwyn CEO Harlan Meade said a new Chinese law that forces smelters to own at least 35 per cent of their feeds prompted the deal.
"Yunnan has, if you will, scooped the other smelting companies in China by acquiring a half interest in a project that can help them fulfill their long term needs for concentrate feed," Harlan said in a conference call Tuesday.
Howard's Pass is accessible only by winter road from North American Tungsten Corp.'s Cantung property, so Meade said Selwyn's plans call for a 160-kilometre pipeline to transport zinc slurry to a site on the Campbell Highway.
"These concentrate pipelines are becoming quite popular," he said. "In this case, much of the capital cost of the pipeline is offset by not having to build a road."
Meade said the new Chinese investment should finance the Howard's Pass project through final feasibility studies and regulatory processes over the next two years. By then, he said financing for construction should be much more realistic.
"Most people would suggest that this is a billion-dollar project. We believe that it's less than that," he said.
Meade was instrumental in developing Yukon Zinc Corp.'s Wolverine mine project, which is now owned by Chinese companies Jinduicheng Molybdenum Group Co. Ltd. and Northwest Nonferrous International Investment Company Ltd.