Decision time for Western Copper and Gold’s (TSX: WRN; NYSE-AM: WRN) $3.6 billion Casino project in remote Yukon looms less than four months away.
Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO; ASX: RIO) holds about 8% of the company and must decide by Nov. 28 whether to further invest in the world’s fifth-largest copper-gold project controlled by a junior miner.
“What's next, we'll see, but that's going to be obviously a key development here,” Western CEO Paul West-Sells said in a late July interview in the Yukon with The Northern Miner. “They're saying the right things, they’re saying ‘Paul, yep, we're dotting i's, crossing t's, we like the project, you know, all the work we did.'”
Casino is named for a creek that runs through the site, 380 km northwest of the Yukon capital, Whitehorse. It also has the backing of a 5% investment by Mitsubishi Materials in March. With the potential to produce 11 billion lb. copper and 21 million oz. gold, it’s Canada’s largest critical minerals project, West-Sells says.
The project has the size to interest major companies on the hunt to supply some of the 12 million tonnes of copper over the next decade widely regarded as crucial to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, while mines have only supplied 7 million tonnes of copper in the last two decades, Western says. The project’s scope combines with its location in the desirable jurisdiction of Canada versus troubled South America, plus reasonable economics and good relations with First Nations, West-Sells said.
“Those four things with the background of a strong copper price environment, electrification and every major mining company looking for good copper projects and you've got gold companies looking for the copper projects,” he said. “That’s what’s causing the excitement in the story.”