BHP set to capture Canadian nickel-copper miner with $258 million bid

BHP has made a US$258 million offer to acquire TSXV-listed Noront Resources, trumping an earlier offer for the nickel-copper miner by Australia’s Wyloo Metals.

The world’s largest mining firm by market capitalisation said the offer submitted yesterday valued Noront at C$0.55 per share, representing a premium of 129% to the firm’s closing price on May 21; a day before mining magnate Andrew Forrest unveiled Wyloo’s proposal.

Noront owns the early-stage Eagle’s Nest deposit in Northwestern Ontario, which the company says is the largest high-grade nickel discovery in Canada since the Voisey’s Bay find.

In addition, Noront has ownership or a controlling interest in all of the major discoveries in the Ring of Fire – an emerging multi-metals area located in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.

“For BHP, the acquisition of Noront presents a world-class growth option, in a key future-facing commodity,” said BHP’s chief development officer Johan van Jaarsveld. Noront said its board has recommended the Anglo-Australian company’s offer.

Wyloo Metals, which is Noront’s top shareholder with a 23% stake as of December, had in May offered C$0.315 per share for the stock it did not already hold in the company. In response, Noront adopted a poison pill to stop the hostile takeover.

BHP and Wyloo’s battle for Noront underscores the race to secure supplies of battery metals among miners ahead of the electric vehicle revolution.

With Canada emerging as the new clean-tech mining hotspot, BHP moved its exploration headquarters to Toronto earlier this year and pledged to almost double base metals exploration spending within five years.