Harmony Gold (NYSE:HMY) has acquired the Eva project in Australia, owned by Copper Mountain Mining (TSX:CMMC) for $230 million. The project could add 1.72 billion pounds of copper and 260,000 ounces of gold to its mineral reserves. The deal marks an entry into the copper market for the South African miner. The deal will open a new revenue stream at just the right moment.
Prices and demand for copper are strong because of the increasing use of the metal in electric cars and other infrastructure. Over an expected mine life of 15 years, the Eva open-pit copper mine is expected to yield 100 million pounds of copper per year along with 14,000 ounces of gold. Currently, Copper Mountain has a flagship asset in the 75%-owned Copper Mountain mine in southern British Columbia, Canada.
The company only had exposure to copper previous to this through its stake in the Wafi-Golpu joint venture in Papua New Guinea with Newcrest. That project has been delayed due to a wait for a special mining lease (SML) from the government that has lasted for three years.
Getting the project started will require a $597 million investment that Harmony Gold will fund with available debt facilities and existing cash. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023. The deal comes at a time when contrasting economic conditions both threaten to help and hurt commodities markets. Demand for copper is being driven by electric vehicle adoption and the need for new infrastructure. However, the global economy is slowing down, which is hurting copper demand. Copper prices are down about 8% from their recent highs. More than anything else, nerves about interest rate hikes in economies around the world are crimping demand for commodities. However, Australia continues to see record output and mining revenues in 2022 thanks to growing Chinese demand. Copper prices should start to rebound once the global economy strengthens. Harmony Gold is a South African gold and copper miner with operations in South Africa, Australia, and Canada.