Japan’s Mitsubishi Materials has agreed to acquire a stake in Western Copper and Gold, which owns the Casino copper-gold project in Yukon, Canada, through a strategic equity investment.

The Japanese company will acquire approximately 5% of issued and outstanding shares of Western Copper and Gold, with each share valued at $2.63.

Western Copper and Gold said the exact number of its shares to be issued and the proceeds to be received will be based on Rio Tinto Canada’s decision to exercise its pre-existing right to participate in equity financings by the firm to maintain its current stake of approximately 7.84%.

If Rio Tinto elects to exercise its right in full, Mitsubishi Materials will receive 8,091,390 Western Copper shares for aggregate gross proceeds of C$21.3m and 878,809 Western Copper shares will be issued to Rio Tinto for C$2.3m ($1.67m) in aggregate gross proceeds.

Western Copper and Gold president and CEO Paul West-Sells said: “We are pleased to welcome Mitsubishi Materials as a strategic investor in the company.

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“The investment by Mitsubishi Materials is a strong endorsement of the Casino project. We look forward to working with Mitsubishi Materials to advance Casino.”

The proceeds of the strategic investment will be used by Western Copper and Gold to advance the Casino project located 380km north-west of Whitehorse.

Under the investment, Western Copper and Gold will sign an investor rights agreement with Mitsubishi. In addition, the latter could have one or more representatives on the Western board and appoint a member to the technical and sustainability committee of the Casino project.

Furthermore, Mitsubishi will hold the right to take part in future equity financings to maintain its ownership in Western Copper and Gold.

The Casino project involves the construction of a conventional open-pit mine, a mineral processing plant and a heap leach facility.