The Mining Stock Daily, a collaboration between ClearCreekDigital and Investment Research Dynamics, interviewed the CEO, Paul West-Sells, to learn more about Western Copper & Gold (WRN on both the NYSE and TSX). But first, here’s background on WRN:
Western Copper & Gold is advancing the Casino Project, a world-class copper-gold porphyry deposit, in the Yukon. The deposit contains 4.5 billion lbs of copper and 8.9 million ounces of gold reserve and 5.4 billion lbs and 9 million ozs of inferred resource.
Western Copper was a spin-off from Western Silver after Glamis Gold acquired Western Silver in May 2006 (three months later Goldcorp acquired Glamis). WRN acquired the old Lumina Resources in September 2006 for Lumina’s three copper properties, one of which was Casino. WRN spun-off the other two properties.
WRN only has 106.4 million fully-diluted shares outstanding (including options/warrants), which is remarkable for company that has been developing a massive copper-gold project for 11 years. Insiders own 8% of the stock. A small group of high net worth private investors who have made a lot of money on companies run by WRN Executive Chairman, Dale Corman, own 48% of the stock and institutional/retail own the remaining 44%.
WRN raised $32 million in 2012 selling a Net Smelter Return royalty to Orion Capital. That NSR was sold to Osisko in June 2017 when Osisko acquired a portfolio of royalty assets from Orion.
With a market cap of US$70 million (fully-diluted basis), WRN is extraordinarily undervalued on a risk-return basis. This is especially true considering the recent wave of copper-gold porphyry project M&A activity. Recall that Newcrest invested approximately US$14 million for a 19.9% stake in Azucar’s El Cobre, which valued that early-stage copper-gold project at US$74 million. In 2017, Goldcorp paid US$185 million for Exeter’s Caspice copper-gold project high up in the Chilean Andes.
There have been several other transactions in the copper-gold space, including Zijin’s (Chinese company) acquisition of Nevsun for $1.41 billion (September 2018) for the Timok copper-gold project in Serbia and the recently closed sale of the Malmyzh copper-gold project (Freeport, EMX Royalty) to Russian Copper Company for US$200 million.
WRN’s project is not as large or as high-quality as Malmyzh, but it’s several years closer to being converted into an operating mine. At this juncture, with the current price of copper and gold, the “asset value” of WRN, based on the roster of comparable transactions, is at least US$140 million. I would not be surprised to see one of the companies with projects near Casino make bid a for WRN at some point in next 6-12 months. There’s also a list of other potential acquirers, including RioTinto, BHP and Freeport.
Click on the graphic below to hear Trevor Hall’s interview with WRN’s Paul West-Sells (you can also download the interview on your favorite app by clicking here: MSD platforms):
The analysis above on WRN is from the November 8th issue of the Mining Stock Journal. To learn more about this newsletter, click here: Mining Stock Journal information