Monday 25 September 2017

Teck eyes sale of zinc mine stake

Canadian giant in talks with Group Eleven, writes Gavin McLoughlin

Mining giant Teck is in talks to sell its stake in a Limerick joint venture with John Teeling's Connemara Mining. Stock photo: Thinkstock
Mining giant Teck is in talks to sell its stake in a Limerick joint venture with John Teeling's Connemara Mining. Stock photo: Thinkstock
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Mining giant Teck is in talks to sell its stake in a Limerick joint venture with John Teeling's Connemara Mining.

The company is in talks to sell out to Group Eleven Resources, a newly-established Irish firm backed by former Davy corporate finance boss Hugh McCutcheon, pictured, the Sunday Independent understands.

Group Eleven, set up in 2015 and run by former Davy Stockbrokers equity analyst Bart Jaworski, has also been backed by Vancouver-headquartered MAG Silver, which develops silver mines in Mexico and has a market capitalisation of almost CAD $1.3bn (€880m).

A spokesperson for Teck said it is the company's policy not to comment on "market rumours or speculation". Jaworski did not respond to a request for comment.

The project in question is the Stonepark prospect, located near the Pallas Green prospect on which mining giant Glencore has recently resumed drilling.

Over US$9m has been invested in developing Stonepark, in which Teeling's Connemara Mining has a 23.5pc working interest according to its website.

The news emerges on foot of a significant uptick in activity in the Irish zinc sector, after the metal's price has soared over the last 18 months.

Glencore had put its work in Pallas Green in abeyance for a number of years but recently moved eight rigs onto the site "to better understand certain aspects of the deposit".

A spokesman added that any decision about building a fully-fledged mine at the site was "a long way down the road".

Stonepark is located 5km away from Pallas Green.

Glencore said in 2013 that the site could potentially have as much as 42 million tonnes of recoverable resources.

Lead and zinc are present there. If that figure proves accurate, a mine there would be the second-largest in Ireland after the famous Tara mine near Navan in Meath, Europe's biggest zinc mine.

That mine is owned by Swedish company Boliden, which said earlier this year that it was investing €44m to deepen the mine and boost its lifespan by six years.

An industry source said that there are enough resources to boost the mine's lifetime by decades, but that it will depend on how the price of zinc performs over that period.

Group Eleven already has interests in the Limerick region.

Canadian-listed Hannan Metals has started drilling at a prospect in Kilbricken in Co Clare.

"Our team has worked hard to extract as much information as possible from the extensive project and regional databases that took previous explorers more than €16m to acquire ... we are wasting no time in getting a drill rig turning at this highly prospective base metal property," Hannan chief executive and chairman Michael Hudson told the market earlier this month.

In addition, Irish minerals explorer Unicorn Mineral Resources has told shareholders that it is in talks to sell itself to a Canadian-listed company, in a deal that could value it at some €7m.

It is also considering listing in Canada via a reverse takeover of a cash shell.

Sunday Indo Business

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