The company developing a copper mine in Florence has proposed selling to another Canadian mining company called Taseko Mines Ltd., they announced Tuesday.
Curis Resources Ltd. of Vancouver has been working since 2009 to start a mine north of downtown Florence that had been tested in the 1990s by other mining companies, but never commercially mined.
Curis and Taseko both are affiliates of Canadian mining giant Hunter Dickinson.
The deal, which could close next month pending shareholder and other approvals, would give each Curis shareholder 0.438 of a Taseko common share for each Curis common share held.
The total value of the deal depends on the closing price for each company’s stock when the transaction closes, but the price represents $1.06 per Curis share based on the 20-day weighted average prices.
Curis shares closed at 94 cents each Tuesday on the Toronto exchange. Taseko shares closed at $2.20 each on the same exchange.
“Both the Taseko board and Curis Resources board voted unanimously for the deal,” said Rita Maguire, executive vice president and general counsel for Curis. “That speaks volumes to the confidence Taseko’s board has in the project.”
Taseko previously invested in Curis and holds about 13 million shares, she said.
The Florence Copper Project proposes an “in-situ” mine, which recovers minerals without piles of waste rock, tailings dams, a smelter or explosives. Instead, the company would pump acid deep underground where it would separate copper from the ore, and suck up the copper-acid solution to the surface to process.
Curis is awaiting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to begin test mining half of the copper ore sitting under in Florence, and could hear from the agency this fall.
Already Curis won approval from the state Department of Environmental Quality for the project, but is fighting a challenge to that permit from nearby developers hoping to build houses around the area that will be mined.
Separately, Curis is fighting a condemnation proceeding by Florence on the land atop the other half of the copper ore it hopes to mine. The company has said that it will mine only the ore under state land if unsuccessful in its legal challenges with the town.
Maguire said Taseko officials are confident the project will move forward.
“They had an independent auditor, Deloitte, take a look at this company and review the science and the law,” Maguire said.
Taseko’s primary project is its 75 percent ownership of the Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine in British Columbia, the second largest open pit copper mine in Canada.
“Florence adds diversity to our pipeline of development projects,” said Taseko President/CEO Russell Hallbauer in a statement. “There are very few copper projects in secure jurisdictions … such as Florence, and the timing of anticipated production from the project could be ideal for the next copper price cycle.”