Leading vehicle maker Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) (Euronext Milan: STLAM) (Euronext Paris: STLAP) invested US$155 million in a copper mine owned by McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX)’s subsidiary McEwen Copper in Argentina to secure its electric vehicle battery raw materials.
On the same day, Rio Tinto Ltd. (ASX: RIO) (LON: RIO)’s latest venture Nuton LLC announced it entered into an agreement with McEwen Copper to invest $30 million in the mine to advance its copper mining operations.
McEwen owns the copper-gold-silver-rich Los Azules mine which plans to produce around 100,000 tons of cathode copper per year starting in 2027.
Cathode copper is a high-purity form of copper produced through an electrorefining process and has electrical conductivity properties that make it an ideal raw material to produce electric vehicle batteries.
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Global demand for conductive metal will triple in the coming years
Raw material studies estimate that the global demand for conductive metals will triple in the coming years as electric mobility becomes more popular.
Under the agreement, Stellantis will become McEwen Copper’s second-largest shareholder with a 14.2 per cent equity stake along with Rio Tinto which will also own 14.2 per cent of the mine.
“Stellantis intends to lead the industry with the commitment to be carbon net zero by 2038 – a goal that requires innovation and a complete redefinition of the entire business,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said.
“We are taking important steps in Argentina and Brazil, with the aim of decarbonizing mobility and ensuring strategic supplies of raw materials necessary for the success of the Company’s global electrification plans.”
Stellantis wants to become carbon net zero by 2038 and owns the popular car brands Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat, Maserati among other high-end brands.
By the end of the decade, Stellantis aims to achieve a 100 per cent sales mix of electric vehicles for passenger cars in Europe and a 50 per cent sales mix of electric vehicles for both passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the United States. In Brazil, the company is targeting a sales mix of approximately 20 per cent for low-emission vehicles.
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Rio Tinto’s new venture invests $30 million in Los Azules
McEwen Mining also announced on Monday that its subsidiary McEwen Copper Inc. and Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Nuton LLC agreed to a private placement of 350,000 of its common shares for US$6.5 million. The company says the agreement will help to advance the development of the Los Azules copper project in San Juan, Argentina, and for general corporate purposes.
In a secondary sale, Nuton will purchase 1,250,000 common shares of the copper subsidiary from McEwen Mining for US$23.5 million. The Nuton agreement totals $30 million and is set to close no later than March 10.
Some of McEwen Copper shares (13.8 per cent) are owned by the company’s chief executive Rob McEwen.
“Together we are exploring new technologies that save energy, water, time and capital in the pursuit of delivering green copper to Argentina and the world, a product that will contribute to the electrification of transportation and the protection of our atmosphere,” said McEwen in a statement.
McEwen Mining produces silver and gold and has operations in Nevada, Canada, Mexico and Argentina. Its subsidiary McEwen Copper owns Los Azules and the Elder Creek project in Nevada, United States.
McEwen Mining stock went up on Monday by 11.98 per cent to $8.32 on the Toronto Securities Exchange.
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Los Azules is one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits
McEwen Copper owns one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits, Los Azules in San Juan, Argentina. Its current copper resources are estimated at 10.2 billion pounds at a grade of 0.48 per cent Cu (indicated) and an additional 19.3 billion pounds at a grade of 0.33 per cent Cu (inferred).
In the latest assay results announced in January, Los Azules showed a large porphyry copper-gold-silver deposit with considerable growth potential, where its ultimate depth and lateral extents remain to be determined.
Nuton’s mining techniques use water more efficiently, lower carbon emissions
Nuton LLC is a new venture by Rio Tinto to grow its copper business. The company has spent almost 30 years researching and developing a special way to extract copper from different materials. Its technologies allow the company to get copper from different sources in a way that’s affordable and to get more copper from materials that might not have much copper in them.
The company says its process to unlock copper sulphide resources has more efficient water usage, lowers carbon emissions and has the ability to reclaim mine sites by reprocessing mine waste.
This January, Nuton entered into a collaboration agreement with Excelsior Mining Corp. (TSX: MIN) (OTCQB: EXMGF) (FSE: 3XS) to evaluate the use of its Nuton trademarked copper head leaching technologies at Excelsior’s Johnson Camp mine in Arizona.
During the same month, Nuton announced a non-brokered private placement financing of US$15 million with Regulus Resources Inc. (TSX-V: REG) (OTCQX: RGLSF) for 20,058,974 of its common shares issued to Nuton at a price of CAD$1.02 per share. This gives Nuton control over 16.1 per cent of Regulus’ total outstanding common shares.
Rio Tinto is a British-Australian multinational metals and mining corporation headquartered in London, United Kingdom. The company has operations on six continents and is involved in the exploration, mining, and processing of metals and minerals including aluminum, copper, diamonds, gold, and iron ore.
Earlier this month, Rio Tinto announced it retrieved a radioactive capsule that was lost for seven days on the outskirts of Perth. The radioactive piece of equipment was meant to be used as part of an industrial gauge for measuring iron ore feed at its Gudai-Darri mining site in Australia.
Rio Tinto’s stock dropped by 2.91 per cent on Monday to AUD$115.46 on the Australian Securities Exchange Ltd.