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Canadian miner Lions Bay Mining has announced it has entered into a non-binding letter of intent to acquire BioVaxys, a private company working on a Covid-19 vaccine. The proposed transaction will be structured as an amalgamation or share exchange agreement, subject to mutual agreement, with BioVaxys becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lions Bay.

Lions Bay is a mineral and exploration development company, primarily focused on mineral properties in North America. Its primary asset is the Fish Lake Project in Nevada, and it has stakes in mining operations in the Yukon Territory of Canada.

Understanding the acquisition

The move from Lions Bay to acquire a pharmaceutical company developing a Covid-19 vaccine is a sign of the bewildering times we are living through. At the start of April, the coronavirus pandemic had wiped $282bn from the value of the world’s top mining companies, undoing more than a year’s worth of financial growth in one short crisis. As more nations enforce lockdowns and mining operations are forced to close or severely reduce operations, the financials are only going to become bleaker.

While the top mining companies are keeping a stiff upper lip about prospects for the rest of 2020, it is clear that Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere fast, and with countries extending lockdowns past their initial periods, mine operations that are not deemed essential are increasingly going to suffer.

It seems Lions Bay has taken a novel approach to the crisis by moving to acquire a commodity that could prove more valuable than all the precious metals in the earth’s crust: a Covid-19 vaccine – the way out of lockdowns and social distancing measures, and the chance for society to return to some form of normality.

If the acquisition goes ahead, Lions Bay will have to stump up considerable financing for vaccine research and development, but the potential return could be huge; in addition to the immediate search for a Covid-19 vaccine, BioVaxys is a company at the forefront of innovation in cancer research, planning clinical trials for potential new forms of ovarian cancer treatment using haptenised protein technology. BioVaxys not only believes this technology can be used to treat ovarian cancer, but it also believes the technology is scalable across a range of tumour types as well as viruses.

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Executives respond to the deal

Commenting on the deal, Lions Bay Mining CEO Jeremy Poirier said: “Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, governments globally are prioritising medical research and drug development, with the race to develop a universal vaccine for this virus that has infected over 2.2 million. We are excited to work with Biovaxys on the development of their protein technology platforms and explore its potential to develop a haptenised SARS-Cov-2 protein.”

BioVaxys CMO Dr David Berd said: “Given our positive experience with haptenised cancer vaccines, we are optimistic about the potential prospects for developing a haptenised SARS-Cov-2 protein vaccine since viral proteins are foreign to the human immune system. We look forward to advancing our vaccine technology through the clinical approval process.”

Lions Bay company overview and share price

Lions Bay is a relative upstart in the mining industry, having been founded in 2018 as a mineral exploration company. Listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange (CSE), the company’s share price reached an all-time high off the back of this announcement, jumping more than 7%. The bump will be more than welcome following a tumultuous March on the CSE owing to uncertainty around the spread of Covid-19.