Nuton, a Rio Tinto venture that has developed innovative copper sulphide leach technologies, is taking a 16.5% stake in Regulus Resources for $15 million.
Nuton’s technologies have the potential to process arsenic-bearing copper sulphides with a lower carbon footprint and less impact on water resources than traditional concentrator processing, and the company will test its process on samples from Regulus’ AntaKori copper project in northern Peru.
“Through Nuton, Rio Tinto has developed sulphide leaching processing technologies that could allow for the processing of high arsenic ores without the need for additional on-site treatment or paying heavy penalties to a smelter,” Regulus CEO John Black stated in a press release announcing the private placement, adding that the investment by one of the largest miners in the world “is another strong endorsement for the AntaKori project.”
Under the private placement, Nuton will acquire 20.06 million common shares of Regulus at a price of C$1.02 per share. Nuton will be allowed to nominate a director to the Regulus board and the two companies will form a joint venture advisory committee to share expertise, exploration concepts and development opportunities at the project.
AntaKori, 600 km north of Lima and 60 km northwest of the city of Cajamarca, is 7 km northwest of Gold Fields’ (NYSE: GFI) Cerro Corona porphyry copper-gold mine and 45 km northwest of the Yanacocha gold mine owned by a Newmont Mining (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM) and Buenaventura Mining (NYSE: BVN) joint venture. Regulus notes that concentrate exports could move through the port facility of Eten, 230 km to the west.
The Rio Tinto investment follows a $5 million investment by Osisko Gold Royalties (TSX: OR) in mid-October in exchange for a net smelter return royalty ranging from 0.125% to 1.5% on certain claims of the AntaKori project. The deal also gives Osisko a right, currently held by Regulus, to buy-back a 1% NSR from a third party on certain claims at the project. The investment was Osisko’s second in AntaKori. It first struck a strategic partnership with Regulus in October 2020.
AntaKori currently has indicated resources of 250 million tonnes grading 0.48% copper, 0.29 gram gold per tonne and 7.5 grams silver per tonne, and inferred resources of 267 million tonnes grading 0.41% copper, 0.26 gram gold and 7.8 grams silver. Mineralization remains open in all directions, Regulus says.