Wyloo Metals' looming acquisition of Noront Resources and its James Bay region mineral assets is being called a "significant milestone" that "paves the way" for new leadership to "responsibly develop" the Ring of Fire.
The Perth, Australia-headquartered said in a news release that it plans to enter into a binding agreement with Noront's board and will provide Noront shareholders with more information at a special meeting in early January to vote on a plan of arrangement.
Wyloo emerged the winner of a bidding war to take control of Noront after rival BHP elected not to match Wyloo's $1.10 per common share - $616.9 million - proposal to acquire the Toronto junior mining company and its rich nickel, copper, platinum group metals and chromite projects in Ontario's Far North.
Wyloo first appeared on the scene in December 2020, replacing Resources Capital Fund as Noront's biggest shareholder, taking a 37 per cent stake of Noront's common shares and convertible debt.
The Perth-headquartered company is owned by Australian mining and green energy billionaire Andrew Forrest and his privately-held investment company Tattarang. It's been searching the globe to invest in exploration project related to battery-related metal commodities.
They view the Ring of Fire as playing a "vital role" in securing a domestic critical metal supply chain for Canada.
Forrest has previously said he will personally take charge in steering the project's development as chair of a new board at Noront.
“Our approach is always to build strong and sustainable businesses that create economic opportunities and enable communities to thrive,” Forrest said in a statement.
“We are under no misconceptions that this will be an overnight success. The journey to realize the full potential of the Ring of Fire will require patience, determination and working hand-in-hand with First Nations, federal and provincial governments, and regional stakeholders," he said.
But this is the journey that the Wyloo Metals team and I commit ourselves to with Noront. Together we will build Canada’s next great mineral district.”
Luca Giacovazzi, chief executive of Wyloo, said the interest by his company and BHP underscored the scarcity of high-grade nickel sulphide deposits and is endorsement of the globally-recognized scale of the Ring of Fire.
BHP, which established an exploration office in Toronto earlier this year, gave no indication if it plans to pursue other favourable ground in the Ring of Fire or in any established mining camps in Northern Ontario.
“As you know, BHP has a strong track record of mining development and investment in Canada and we will continue to through our new Metals Exploration office to Toronto," the company replied in a statement, "(with) strong relationships with Indigenous communities, partnerships with local exploration companies including Midland Exploration (in Nunavik, Quebec), and our expansive Jansen (potash) project (in Saskatchewan).
“While the Eagle's Nest deposit is a promising resource, we do not see adequate long-term value for our shareholders in order to match the offer from Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd.
“However, our strategy continues to be to own a portfolio of world-class assets with exposure to highly attractive future-facing commodities that benefit from the mega-trends playing out in the world, while maintaining a disciplined approach to capital allocation. If we identify an opportunity that aligns with our strategy, we will carefully consider it.”