First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX:FM) announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to sell a 30% equity interest in the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operation in Western Australia for cash consideration of $240 million to POSCO, one of the world’s largest steel producers. First Quantum will retain a 70% interest in Ravensthorpe and continue to be the operator. The proceeds of the transaction will be used to reduce the Company’s debt. In addition to the Transaction, POSCO and First Quantum have also agreed to evaluate a strategic partnership to produce battery precursor materials from production at Ravensthorpe.
Under the terms of the Transaction, POSCO will acquire a 30% equity interest in Ravensthorpe for cash consideration of $240 million. POSCO will be provided with a long-term offtake agreement for 7,500 tonnes of nickel in mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide precipitate (“MHP”) per year produced at Ravensthorpe, beginning in 2024. The balance of Ravensthorpe’s production will continue to be marketed by First Quantum. The Transaction is subject to certain conditions including approval by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (“FIRB”). The transaction is expected to close sometime in the third quarter of 2021. The proceeds of the Transaction will be applied to the outstanding amount on the Company’s revolving credit facility, continuing the Company’s debt reduction.
POSCO is South Korea’s largest, and the world’s fourth largest, steel producer. POSCO is also a leading integrated producer of cathode and anode materials for the electric vehicle (“EV”) battery sector and is undertaking an expansion of its secondary battery material business for which Ravensthorpe will provide a portion of the feed.
As part of the Transaction, First Quantum and POSCO have also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to explore a partnership to produce battery cathode precursor materials, likely in the form of nickel sulphate, by utilizing the MHP from Ravensthorpe. First Quantum and POSCO will work together over the coming months to advance this potential partnership.
“We are pleased to welcome POSCO as our new long-term strategic partner in Ravensthorpe,” Philip Pascall, Chairman and CEO said. “Our respective organizations have complementary skillsets which will allow us to maximize the strategic value of Ravensthorpe as a key long-term supplier of nickel to the EV battery sector. We look forward to working closely with POSCO at Ravensthorpe and exploring options to broaden our relationship.”
Ravensthorpe is a large-scale, open pit nickel and cobalt operation located in Western Australia, 150km west of Esperance. Ravensthorpe produces a high quality MHP which is a sought-after feedstock for the production of EV battery cathode materials. Following a successful restart of operations in the first quarter of 2020, the mine is now transitioning to the Shoemaker Levy deposit which will provide stable feed to the plant for the next twenty years. Completion of construction and commissioning works at Shoemaker Levy, including a 10km conveyor, is expected this quarter.
Ravensthorpe is strategically-positioned as a clean, sustainable source of nickel for the EV battery value chain with industry leading ESG credentials and a small carbon emissions footprint.
These features are expected to become increasingly important to brand name manufacturers of EVs and include:
OUR NICKEL BUSINESS
First Quantum has significant nickel resources which complement its world-class copper operations, underpinned by Ravensthorpe and the Enterprise Nickel Project in Zambia. Enterprise is a 100% owned, largely-constructed, high grade nickel sulphide project located 15km from the Company’s Sentinel Mine. The 4 million tonne per year process plant for Enterprise was completed in 2016 and was temporarily used to process copper ore during the commissioning of Sentinel. Enterprise is expected to produce an average of 28,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate per year over the estimated 11-year mine life. It is anticipated that Enterprise’s high grade concentrate will be suitable to feed into the battery metals supply chain. Dewatering and preliminary pre-strip works will commence at Enterprise in 2021 in anticipation of the Company making a final decision to proceed with the project later this year.
Standard Chartered Bank served as financial advisor and MinterEllison served as legal advisor to the Company for the purpose of the Transaction.
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