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Less than two years after he took Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. public, Robert Friedland is already looking at ways to break it up.
Vancouver-based Ivanhoe revealed on Thursday it is studying a number of “potentially significant corporate and project-level options.” Those include splitting the company’s projects into separate publicly-traded entities, asset sales, joint ventures, and alternative stock exchange listings.
All options need to be looked at, because Mr. Friedland’s company is short of cash and has three very large projects to develop.
While Ivanhoe (formerly Ivanplats) exited the first quarter with US$170.2-million of cash and short-term deposits, it has committed US$146.7-million for the Platreef project in South Africa. That leaves very little capital for Kamoa and Kipushi, Ivanhoe’s two vast deposits in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ivanhoe wants to begin developing a mine-access decline at Kamoa this year, and also conduct an underground drilling program at Kipushi. But it warned it does not have enough money to do this work unless it can raise more by the end of June.
“Any future working capital deficiency is expected to be remedied through a debt or equity financing,” the company said.
That was a strong hint that a stopgap financing could be coming soon. But a corporate reorganization could make it easier to raise the vast funds that will be needed farther in the future.
When Ivanhoe went public in 2012, it was widely assumed that the assets in South Africa and the Congo would eventually be split. They are an awkward fit: Platreef is a precious metals project that has committed funding from a Japanese consortium, while Kamoa and Kipushi are base metal projects that still need a great deal of capital, and likely a joint venture partner or strategic investor.
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