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Kyrgyzstan gains B.C. foothold as Centerra hedges jurisdictions

by Greg Klein | July 5, 2016

A “balanced geopolitical risk profile” would counter Centerra Gold’s (TSX:CG) Kyrgyzstan woes with a solid foundation in more favourable countries. But with Kyrgyzstan currently holding nearly a third of Centerra shares, that country retains a sizeable piece of the action. Late July 5 Centerra announced a definitive agreement to pick up Thompson Creek Metals TSX:TCM and its Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in British Columbia. Also included are Thompson Creek’s Endako molybdenum mine in B.C. and its Thompson Creek moly mine in Idaho, both on care and maintenance, as well as two development projects in B.C.

Kyrgyzstan gains B.C. foothold as Centerra hedges jurisdictions

Gold miner Centerra takes on Thompson
Creek’s debt to move into a safer jurisdiction.

Subject to approvals, the share swap values Thompson Creek at C$0.79, a 33% premium to the company’s 20-day volume-weighted average to July 4. The deal would leave Thompson Creek shareholders with about 8% of Centerra. The company also pays off Thompson Creek’s outstanding notes. The companies value the transaction at approximately US$1.1 billion.

Royal Gold’s Mount Milligan gold stream would drop from 52.25% to 35% in exchange for an 18.75% copper stream.

The deal gives Centerra “an operating base in Canada—one of the lowest-risk mining jurisdictions in the world—which will complement our [50%-held] Canadian-based Greenstone project and provide for further flexibility to expand into the Americas,” commented CEO Scott Perry.

In addition to its flagship Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan, Centerra holds Mongolia’s Boroo gold mine, currently on care and maintenance, and two advanced-stage gold projects in Mongolia and Turkey.

At the company’s May AGM the CEO reportedly acknowledged that Kyrgyzstan is “not viewed as a top-tier jurisdiction”—a considerable understatement. Out of 109 countries ranked by the Fraser Institute’s annual mining survey, Kyrgyzstan ranks 19th from last on the Investment Attractiveness Index and eighth from last on the Policy Perception Index. B.C., although no paradise itself for miners, ranks 18th from top on the IAI and 41st on the PPI.

Centerra’s Kyrgyzstan adversities have included a police raid on the company’s office, a US$220-million pollution fine, a US$9-billion claim by the country’s Green Party, criminal investigations against the company’s executives, a ban on executives leaving the country, the arrest of a former CEO in Bulgaria reportedly at Kyrgyzstan’s behest, illegal roadblocks, violent mobs, and the arrest and deportation of a Centerra welder after he posted a Facebook remark comparing a local sausage to “horse penis.”

Centerra holds a 100% interest in Kumtor but Kyrgyzstan holds 32.7% of Centerra. In December the company offered to trade a 50% stake in the mine for the country’s shares. But now Kyrgyzstan faces dilution through the C$170-million bought deal Centerra also announced on July 5.

The company expects to close the offer around July 20 and the acquisition in autumn.

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