Independence Group to Buy Sirius Resources for $1.4 Billion – by Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – May 24, 2015)

Australian gold and nickel miner Sirius Resources agreed to a cash-and-shares takeover by its larger rival

SYDNEY—A mining company that traces its roots to one man’s hunt for wreckage from a NASA space station in the Outback has become the focus of one of Australia’s biggest resources deals so far this year.

Sirius Resources NL, which is building a vast nickel mine in Western Australia state, on Monday agreed to a cash-and-shares takeover offer worth 1.8 billion Australian dollars (US$1.4 billion) by larger rival Independence Group NL. If approved at shareholder meetings in late August, the deal will create a midtier mining company producing commodities ranging from gold to nickel and zinc.

Modern-day mining companies typically owe their success to the drillbit, but Sirius’s story is a throwback to the days when Australian prospectors headed into the Outback with little more than a shovel, a compass and a map.

In 1979, Mark Creasy drove deep into Australia’s red center to search for debris from the Skylab space station, which was partly strewn across Western Australia instead of falling entirely into the Indian Ocean as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration had hoped.

Skylab–first launched into Earth’s orbit on a rocket six years earlier–had played a central role in proving that humans could work in space for extended periods. Three-man crews had occupied the Skylab workshop for more than 170 days while in orbit.

Mr. Creasy hoped to sell any Skylab debris that he could find to space enthusiasts. But he only found two nitrogen tanks, for which he couldn’t find a buyer.

Still, the mission into the Outback unearthed something far more valuable.

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