Empire Metals to acquire Pilbara palladium deposit from Artemis Resources

Matthew Hall 27 April 2020 (Last Updated April 27th, 2020 15:40)

UK-headquartered resource exploration and development company Empire Metals has today announced that it has agreed with Artemis Resources to acquire a 41% interest in the Munni Munni palladium project in the West Pilbara region of Western Australia and has first right of refusal on a further 29% interest in the project.

Empire Metals to acquire Pilbara palladium deposit from Artemis Resources
The agreement covers four mining licences and an exploration licence, covering a 64km2 tenement area. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

UK-headquartered resource exploration and development company Empire Metals has today announced that it has agreed with Artemis Resources to acquire a 41% interest in the Munni Munni palladium project in the West Pilbara region of Western Australia and has first right of refusal on a further 29% interest in the project.

The agreement covers four mining licences and an exploration licence, covering a 64km2 tenement area. Australia-based gold and copper mineral and mining exploration company Artemis currently holds a 70% stake in Munni Munni, with the remaining 30% held by Platina Resources. Almeera Ventures has a claim to an option over Artemis’ holding in the project and has agreed to withdraw its claim to allow Empire Metals to enter into the agreement.

The total cost of the acquisition is £975,000, to be settled via the issue of 95,000,000 new ordinary shares at £0.01 per share and a cash option payment of £25,000. Completion of the deal is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions including the transfer of licences and regulatory approvals.

Understanding the acquisition

The Munni Munni project is located in the resource-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia, approximately 55km south of the port and rail hub Karratha. The project contains the largest intrusion in the West Pilbara and hosts an estimated 1.14Moz of palladium, 830,000oz of platinum, 152,000oz of gold and 76,000oz of rhodium. Munni Munni is Australia’s largest unexploited PGM resource.

The potential of platinum-group metals (PGMs) at the site was first discovered in the 1980s, and exploration activities have since defined a significant PGM and gold resource, all of which is contained within the four granted mining licences. Likely extensions of the deposit are also within the exploration tenements.

The acquisition will advance Empire Metals’ strategy to diversify its project portfolio and expand its geographic focus. The Munni Munni project represents a low-cost entry point to an attractive investment environment with significant upside potential. Palladium is one of the most valuable precious metals, with a global supply shortage driving up prices. Rhodium currently trades at around $7,500/oz.

Executive response to the deal

Empire Metals CEO Mike Struthers said: “This acquisition represents the start of a new chapter for Empire. Over the past 18 months, the company has been actively reviewing a number of exciting opportunities to fulfil the objective of de-risking our growth strategy by diversifying away from a single jurisdiction investment. We believe the opportunity presented with the Munni Munni Project in Australia satisfies this goal by combining an exceptional project with an attractive and mature investment environment.

“Having recently received confirmation on the tenure of two of our primary projects in Georgia and with an appeal process commenced on a third key asset, the Company has achieved some major steps towards the recommencement of fieldwork at Kvemo Bolnisi and other key assets. But as is the case with most countries, government agencies in Georgia are focussed on those activities considered a priority for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and a result, we are waiting for clarity on how our development schedule will advance.

“We are very excited about this new opportunity and look forward to updating shareholders on completion and our plans for Munni Munni in due course.”

Empire Metals company overview

AIM-listed Empire Metals, formerly Georgian Mining Corporation, owns 50% of the Bolnisi Copper and Gold Project in Georgia. The Bolnisi site covers an area over 860km2 and has a 30-year mining licence. In recent years the company has moved to expand and diversify its project portfolio by acquiring new assets which can add value in the short term, including this acquisition of the Munni Munni project.

The company benefits from exploring and developing low-cost projects, its activities in Georgia being a prime example of that. Its expansion activities are focused on finding low-cost entry points into other metal groups and regions.

Empire Metal’s share price jumped 18% following today’s announcement after a tumultuous March for the mining industry saw stock markets worldwide plummet.