Royalty Corporation has announced a strategic investment in Corporation (“PNR“), a private Canadian company advancing nickel-copper-cobalt and platinum group element (“PGE“) projects in Botswana. EMX owns 5,412,702 shares or 6.3% of the issued and outstanding shares of PNR, having recently purchased an additional one million shares as part of a US$17.5 million financing completed by PNR at US$2.00 per share.
PNR recently acquired the Selebi and Selebi North nickel-copper-cobalt mines and signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire the Selkirk nickel-copper-cobalt-PGE mine, which are located in Botswana’s prolific Selebi-Phikwe and Tati nickel mining districts, respectively (see Figure 1). The combined Selebi-Phikwe and Tati districts were a leading producer of nickel and copper from initial production in 1972 through closure of the mines at a time of low nickel prices in 2016. PNR intends to modernize and revitalize the mines it recently acquired and further evaluate the exploration potential within the project areas.
In addition to the recent asset acquisitions, in February PNR signed a non-binding letter of intent with North American Nickel Inc. (“NAN“) providing for a business combination of PNR and NAN which would be effected as a reverse takeover (“RTO“). The RTO will provide a public listing and near-term liquidity for PNR shareholders. NAN currently owns 8.9% of PNR, with a warrant to acquire an additional 15% of the equity in PNR (the “Warrant“). As a result of the RTO transaction, PNR shareholders will hold approximately 75% of the outstanding common shares of the resulting issuer, with NAN’s shareholders holding the remaining 25% and NAN’s Warrant would be extinguished. The RTO transaction is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals1.
The metamorphosed magmatic sulfide nickel-copper-cobalt deposits of the Selebi Phikwe District are located in the Limpopo Mobile Belt of northeastern Botswana. The deposits were discovered in the early 1960’s, with mining operations commencing in 1972 and continuing through 2016. Together with its concentrator and smelting facilities, the Selebi-Phikwe District became one of world’s premier nickel mining complexes in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Operational inefficiencies, issues with the smelting complex, and low nickel prices led to closure of the mines in 2016. The mines and mining complex were operated by BCL Limited (“BCL“) and were subject to a recent liquidation process.
Two of the principal mines in the district, Selebi and Selebi North, have been acquired by PNR (See NAN News Release dated February 10, 2022), both of which include substantial underground infrastructure (shafts, rail, power and water) and unmined historical resources. PNR is currently conducting exploration and engineering programs as part of a redevelopment plan that has been approved by the liquidators of BCL and the Botswana government.
The Tati Mining District is located 75 kilometers north of Selebi-Phikwe, near Francistown. Several mines occur in the district, including the Phoenix open pit nickel-copper mine and the nearby underground Selkirk nickel-copper-PGE mine. High grade nickel-copper-PGE mineralization was mined at Selkirk between 1989 and 2002 and direct shipped to the BCL Smelter at Selebi-Phikwe. A former owner of the Selkirk Mine, Norilsk Nickel Ltd, advanced the project to the feasibility stage and was preparing Selkirk as an open pit mining operation when it sold the mine to BCL in 2014.
Similar to the BCL assets at Selebi-Phikwe, assets of the Tati Nickel Mining Company were included in the recent liquidation process, which included the Selkirk Mine. PNR recently signed an asset purchase agreement with the liquidator to acquire the Selkirk Mine (see NAN News Release dated February 14, 2022) and has been conducting metallurgical tests and resampling of historical drill core.