Coeur Mining will acquire privately owned JDS Silver Holdings Ltd. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, JDS Silver Inc., which owns the high-grade silver-zinc-lead Silvertip mine located in northern British Columbia, Canada, adding a sixth producing mine to Coeur’s North American-focused platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Coeur will pay an initial consideration of $200 million, consisting of $146.5 million in cash, $38.5 million of Coeur shares (approximately 4.3 million new shares) and will assume $15 million in existing debt. Additional potential payments of up to $50 million are contingent upon achieving specific future permitting and exploration milestones at Silvertip.
Silvertip is one of the industry’s newest and highest-grade silver-zinc-lead mines with a silver-equivalent indicated resource grade of 1,166 grams per metric ton (g/mt), comprised of 352 g/mt silver, 9.4% zinc, and 6.7% lead, and a silver-equivalent inferred resource grade of 1,155 g/mt, comprised of 343 g/mt silver, 9.8% zinc, and 6.2% lead. Located just below the Yukon border, the operation sits within a highly prospective 93,000-acre (37,650 hectares) land package. Silvertip commenced production during the fourth quarter of 2016.
Upon expected completion of the transaction in late October, Coeur intends to invest $25 million to $35 million in surface infrastructure, accelerated underground development and drilling and mill optimization over a six-month period, and recommence commercial production by the end of the first quarter of 2018. Once an anticipated daily average mining rate of 1,000 mt per day (mt/d) is achieved, Coeur expects Silvertip to produce an average of approximately 10 million silver equivalent ounces (oz) annually consisting of approximately 3 million oz of silver, 45-50 million lb of zinc, and 40-45 million lb of lead over an estimated 7.5-year initial mine life. The mine’s all-in sustaining costs (AISC) are expected to average approximately $10.50/oz - $11.50/oz on a silver equivalent basis.
A significant investment has already been made at Silvertip, including a newly installed processing facility, dry stack tailings facility, a 26-km access road, more than 4 km of underground development, 86,000 m of drilling, two bulk sample programs, and 20 years of environmental baseline data. For minimal incremental capital, Coeur anticipates optimizing several aspects of this new operation before recommencing production.
“The Silvertip acquisition represents a unique opportunity to significantly enhance our portfolio of operations and it satisfies all our acquisition criteria — it provides expected near-term, low-cost, high-margin cash flow from an attractive jurisdiction and it is accretive on all key operational and financial metrics,” said Mitchell J. Krebs, president and CEO, Coeur Mining. “We look forward to working with the government of British Columbia and partnering with the Kaska Nation and members of the British Columbia and Yukon Indigenous communities in our efforts to make Silvertip a successful operation.”
The additional production should increase Coeur’s overall production to 38 million oz to 41 million oz silver equivalent.