CAPITAL MARKETS

Imperial plans C$60M raising

Imperial Metals has announced plans to raise up to C$60.2 million through a rights offering with a subscription price of $4.70 per share.

 Imperial Metals will put the bulk of proceeds towards its costs at Red Chris in BC

Imperial Metals will put the bulk of proceeds towards its costs at Red Chris in BC

It planned to use "a significant proportion" for opex and capex at its 30%-owned Red Chris mine, to repay debt and for general working capital purposes, including preliminary work on reopening mines.

Imperial had said earlier this month the restart of its Mount Polley and Huckleberry operations, also in British Columbia, was being planned.

The debt repayment related to a $10 million loan from an affiliate of a major shareholder, N. Murray Edwards, which Imperial had used to fund its share of growing capex at Red Chris.

Imperial's 30% share of exploration, development and capex at Red Chris was $16.4 million in the March quarter, compared with $11.3 million a year earlier.

Upgrades are underway on site in anticipation of a larger underground operation, with a block cave prefeasibility study due later this year. 

Copper-gold production at Red Chris, operated by ASX-listed Newcrest Mining, was also lower than in the first quarter of 2020 after a major power outage during an extreme winter weather event in February caused some mill infrastructure to freeze, resulting in damage to a regrind mill and adversely impacting recovery during the period.

The mine is expected to produce 55.1-66.1 million pounds of copper and 45,000-55,000 ounces of gold in the year to June 30.

Mount Polley, the site of a tailings dam failure in 2014, was shuttered in May 2019 and incurred idle mine costs comprised of C$3.2 million in operating costs and $0.8 million in depreciation expense in the March quarter.

"When the revised restart plan has been updated and the province-wide vaccine distribution is complete, the company will seek to secure financing to fund the restart of the mine," Imperial said earlier this month.

Huckleberry's restart was expected to follow, with the operation mothballed in August 2016 due to low copper prices. It incurred costs of $1.3 million and $0.2 million respectively for the March quarter.

Imperial shares (TSX: III) closed down 5.7% yesterday to $5.13, in the upper end of a one-year range, valuing it at $659 million (US$546 million).

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