ArcWest shares jump on Freeport earn-in deal as majors eye British Columbia copper


How machine learning can help identify new, deeply buried porphyry copper deposits

Todd Creek project in British Columbia. (Reference image by ArcWest Exploration).

Shares in junior explorer ArcWest Exploration (TSXV: AWX) jumped more than 80% in morning trading in Toronto after it announced an earn-in deal with Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) on one of its copper-gold properties in BC’s Golden Triangle.

Under the agreement, Freeport will be able to earn up to 80% of ArcWest’s Todd Creek project which is next to Newcrest Mining’s (TSX: NCM; ASX: NCM) Brucejack mine. To earn an initial 51% interest, Freeport needs to fund C$20 million of work at ArcWest over five years, and make staged payments to the company totalling C$900,000. ArcWest will remain operator during this stage.

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Once it earns its initial stake, Freeport can up its interest to 80% by funding C$30 million in work at Todd Creek over five years and making staged payments totalling C$750,000.

After Freeport has finalized its ownership level (whether at 51% or 80%), each party will be responsible for funding its proportionate share of work at Todd Creek.

ArcWest believes the project, which it says covers one of the fundamental north-south structural corridors in the Stikine terrane and is near multiple major projects and mines, could be an analogue to the Hod Maden gold-copper project in Turkey.

“ArcWest looks forward to advancing our Todd Creek project in partnership with Freeport, one of the world’s largest copper miners and a team with a track record of global copper-gold discoveries that have proceeded to mine development,” said Tyler Ruks, president and CEO of ArcWest, in a release.

“ArcWest’s Todd Creek project is host to one of the largest underexplored copper-gold systems in BC’s Golden Triangle, and Freeport’s endorsement of the project is a testament to its potential for hosting a world class copper-gold deposit.”

Ruks added that ArcWest is in discussions with other mining companies on potential earn-in agreements for its other copper-gold porphyry projects. The company has seven in BC.

ArcWest isn’t the only BC junior to attract the attention of copper majors recently.

Amarc Resources (TSXV: AHR), which already had a strategic exploration partnership with Freeport at its JOY project, also signed a deal with Sweden’s Boliden in November for its DUKE copper-gold district in the Babine region of BC.

ArcWest shares reached a new 52-week high of C$0.10, up 82% or C$0.045, at noon ET. The stock has traded between C$0.05 and C$0.10 over the last year and has a market cap of C$7.6 million.

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