BHP Group Ltd. has reached a friendly agreement to acquire Ring of Fire explorer Noront Resources Ltd. for $325-million, trumping an earlier unsolicited approach from Australian private equity firm Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd.
Melbourne-based BHP said it intends to pay 55 cents a share in cash for Toronto-based Noront, 69-per-cent higher than the company’s closing price on the TSX Venture Exchange on Monday. The offer is also significantly higher than the $0.315-a-share proposal made by Wyloo, currently Noront’s largest shareholder, in May.
The Ring of Fire, situated 550 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay in the James Bay Lowlands in Ontario’s Far North, has had an almost mythical hold on the Canadian mining industry for more than a decade, but so far no company has succeeded in building any mines in the region.
The area is believed to contain rich mineral deposits, but lack of infrastructure has been a major hurdle to extraction.
Noront, which has been active in the Ring of Fire since the mid-2000s, has long promoted its projects as containing a treasure trove of “strategic” minerals, such as chromite and nickel.