AWAITING PERMIT; GETTING READY TO TRIGGER
ANOTHER COPPER M&A IN THE AMERICAS
? The next significant copper producer in America; long life
and low cost: Once in production, the Rosemont Copper
project will average 243 million lbs of copper annually, with C1
cash costs of US$1.02/lb (2012 Feasibility), making it the third
largest copper mine in the USA and placing it in the lowersecond-quartile of the global C1 cash cost curve.
? Permitting is still key; however, market started pricing in
approvals: With Augusta trading at 0.67x our $3.60 NAV, we
believe the market has started pricing in a high probability of
the Company receiving permits. Permitting announcements
could potentially bump the stock upward by 20%-30%;
however, the big upside is the attractiveness of the Company
as a takeover target.
? Hudbay is long Augusta calls…: After making an initial 11%
investment in Augusta shares in 2010, Hudbay has recently
increased its stake to approximately 16%. We believe Hudbay
is gaining confidence in the Company’s permitting chances
and using its 16% ownership as a call option on the remainder
of Augusta’s shares once a positive permitting announcement
takes place. Augusta is a natural fit for Hudbay given its focus
on the Americas, geology, potential production-cost profile and
development timeline for the project to complement Hudbay’s
Constancia project in Peru.
? …and it will be an attractive target for others: Given
Augusta’s favourable location in mining-friendly Arizona, its
significant size and production capabilities and low-cost
advantage, we believe the Company is an attractive takeover
target for larger copper producers. The recent acquisition of
the nearby Pinto Valley copper mine bodes well for other
Arizona copper projects, and using the $0.09/lb of Cu M&I
resources paid for Pinto Valley, we believe Augusta could
fetch $5.00 per share in an acquisition.
? Project financing: The Company is in advanced discussions
with potential parties to source the financing for the remaining
$890M of the $1.2B capex at Rosemont. Both domestic and
international lenders are looking to provide project debt
? Risks: Primary risks to our target price for Augusta include
further permitting delays, capital cost escalation, project
financing and the copper price varying materially.
? Valuation: We derived our target price based on a 1.0x NAV
valuation approach, for its 80% JV interest (under agreement).
We are initiating coverage on Augusta Resource Corporation
with a SPECULATIVE BUY recommendation and 12-month
target price of C$3.60 per share.
Becoming the Hunted; Hudbay the Most Likely Suitor
We believe the ultimate value in owning Augusta shares is the high likelihood of
a takeout of the Company, a scenario that is more likely to unfold once permitting
risk is off the table.
Hudbay seems a likely suitor for two reasons:
1. Hudbay currently owns approximately 16% of Augusta’s outstanding
shares, increasing its stake from an initial 11% investment in 2010; and
2. The addition of Rosemont to Hudbay’s project pipeline could be viewed
as the company “doubling down on copper”, as Rosemont shares similar
characteristics to Hudbay’s Constancia project in Peru.
However, we believe that the Rosemont project is still a very attractive
opportunity for most other mid-tier and large-scale copper producers, given its
favourable location, ready infrastructure, long mine life and low-cost advantages.