Governments worldwide have ambitious goals to reach net-zero emissions, putting renewable energy in the spotlight. Every emerging clean technology has one material in common: copper. Thanks to its highly conductive properties, the base metal has been a standard component in existing electronics, and global electrification will increase demand drastically. As a result, copper consumption is forecasted to reach 36.6 million metric tons by 2031.
Western Copper and Gold Corporation (TSX:WRN, NYSE American:WRN) is ideally positioned to leverage this trend. It is currently focused on developing Canada’s premier copper-gold project – the Casino project. The deposit is located in the Yukon Territory, which ranks among the world’s most attractive mining jurisdictions.
The Yukon is known for its rich mineral deposits, including copper, gold, iron, silver and lead. It has attracted the attention of numerous major mining companies over the last few years, and recent infrastructure funding from the regional and federal governments has spurred additional investment in the territory. Miners in the Yukon, including Western Copper and Gold, are poised to benefit from this spate of new investments. The Carmacks Bypass, for example, is currently being constructed and will play an integral role in the Casino Project.
In June 2022, Western Copper and Gold released the results of its feasibility study, which incorporated an updated mineral resource. The updated estimate includes 14.8 million ounces (Moz) of gold in the measured and indicated category, and 6.3 Moz of gold in the inferred category, in addition to 7.6 billion lbs of copper in the measured and indicated category, and 3.1 billion lbs of copper in the inferred category.
Western Copper and Gold’s positive feasibility study on the Casino project indicates a 27-year mine life and cash flow over the first four years of C$951 million per year at base case prices. In addition, the company has provided estimates for potential economic changes in copper prices and indicated the project will remain profitable even if the spot price decreases.
“Casino is a rare asset in that it is sizable, economic, well-advanced and located in a great jurisdiction. Casino is the key asset in the emerging Yukon gold district,” said Paul West-Sells, Western Copper and Gold’s president and CEO.
In March 2022, the company released its project drilling results, providing assay information from the 13 holes remaining from its 2021 program.
Western Copper and Gold has begun its 2023 diamond drilling program consisting of approximately 2,200 meters of drilling in seven drill holes, ranging from 130 meters to 560 meters in depth located inside the current pit boundaries. The program is expected to result in the upgrading of some indicated resource to the measured resource category.
Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) made a strategic C$25.6-million investment to advance the Casino project, resulting in approximately 8 percent ownership by Rio Tinto of Western’s outstanding common shares. Western Copper and Gold remains the sole owner of the project and will continue to be its operator.
Additionally, the company announced the completion of a C$21.3 million strategic equity investment by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation to further advance the company’s copper-gold Casino Project in the Yukon. Mitsubishi Materials acquired 8,091,390 common shares of the company for C$2.63 per share for proceeds of approximately C$21.3 million, resulting in Mitsubishi Materials owning approximately 5 percent of Western’s issued and outstanding shares.
A highly knowledgeable management team with a proven record of success leads Western Copper and Gold and is supported by a highly qualified team of engineers dedicated to bringing Casino into production.
Western Copper and Gold is an exploration and development mining company with a significant advanced-stage copper-gold asset in the Yukon.The Casino deposit hosts a significant resource of almost 21 Moz of gold and 11 billion lbs of copper (M+I+I).The federal government announced a funding package to finance the access road to the Casino ProjectWestern Copper and Gold initiated its 2023 diamond drill program at the Casino Project consisting of a metallurgical and infill drilling program with approximately 2,200 meters in seven drill holes, ranging from 130 meters to 560 meters in depth and a geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling program with 800 meters of drilling.
The Casino project is a large porphyry-type copper-gold-molybdenum deposit located 560 kilometers from the year-round port of Skagway, Alaska and 380 kilometers from the capital city of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory of Canada.
In September 2017, the territorial and federal governments announced they would provide approximately C$130 million in funding to upgrade and subsidize a large portion of the Casino access road as part of the Yukon Gateway project.
The company released its positive PFS for the Casino project in June 2022, which considered the project being constructed as an open-pit mine, with a concentrator processing 120,000 tonnes per day (td) to recover copper, gold, molybdenum and silver, as well as a 25,000 td oxide heap leach facility to recover gold, silver and copper.
The PFS examined the development of the Casino project, which includes the processing of 1.43 billion tonnes of mineral reserve for both the mill and heap leach, with deposition of mill tailings and mine waste in the tailings management facility consistent with the design concepts considered during the best available tailings technology study as a base case development.
The PFS indicated a $2.3-billion after-tax NPV (8 percent) at base case metal prices with an after-tax IRR of 18.1 percent. The cash flow over the first four years is C$951 million per year contemplating a 27-year mine life.
The company has been working with the federal, territorial and First Nations governments and top environmental consultants to ensure the planned road leading into the Casino site will have the lowest possible environmental impact and will ensure maximum benefit for local communities and First Nations, according to West-Sells.
Kenneth Williamson – Director and Interim Chairman
Kenneth Williamson is a professional director with over 40 years of experience in natural resources and investment banking, where his focus has been on capital markets and mergers and acquisitions. Williamson worked in the oil and gas sector before transitioning into investment banking at Midland Walwyn/Merrill Lynch Canada, where he was vice-chairman of investment banking until 1998. Williamson has held various positions on boards throughout his career, including at Eicon Technology Corporation, Glamis Gold, BioteQ Environmental Technologies, Uranium One, BlackRock Ventures, Quadra FNX Mining, Tahoe Resources and Goldcorp. Williamson is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Institute of Corporate Directors and the Professional Engineers of Ontario.
Dr. Paul West-Sells – President and CEO
Dr. Paul West-Sells has more than 30 years of experience in the mining industry. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in metallurgical engineering, he worked with BHP, Placer Dome and Barrick in increasingly senior roles in research and development and project development. West-Sells has worked for Western Copper and Gold since 2006, where he held a number of technical and executive positions and is now the president and CEO overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company. West-Sells sits on the Yukon Minerals Advisory Board, the Board of the Yukon Mining Alliance and is also the chair of the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining Governing Council.
Varun Prasad – CFO
Varun Prasad has been with Western Copper and Gold since 2011 and most recently served as interim CFO. Prior to that, he was corporate controller for the company. He has extensive experience in financial reporting and regulatory matters. Prasad holds a B.A. Technology (accounting) from British Columbia Institute of Technology and is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC.
Cameron Brown – Special Technical Advisor
Cameron Brown has 45 years of experience in mineral processing and has been responsible for plant maintenance, project engineering and project management of major base and precious metal projects. He was formerly project manager for Western Silver Corporation and worked for 22 years for Bechtel Mining & Metals in various capacities including: project manager, project engineering manager, and manager of engineering for Bechtel Mining & Metals (Global). He was Western Copper and Gold’s project manager from 2006 to 2010, served as vice-president, engineering from 2010 to 2023, and is currently special technical advisor.
Shena Shaw – VP, Environmental and Community Affairs
Shena Shaw has been managing projects and contributing to environmental assessments across the North for nearly 20 years and she is supporting the Casino Project through the first ever panel review process in the Yukon. Her knowledge and advice helps the company make strategic and effective decisions when planning and implementing Indigenous and community consultation and engagement. After graduating from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology focusing on First Nations studies and geography, Shaw joined the Yukon Chamber of Commerce supporting community-based entrepreneurship programs and services. A relocation to Yellowknife, NWT introduced her to the mining industry for the first time when she joined DeBeers Canada’s Snap Lake Project. Following that, she embarked on a lengthy career in environmental consulting in Yellowknife and Whitehorse, focusing on responsible development of resource extraction through the environmental assessment and Indigenous engagement processes of large-scale projects in the Yukon, NWT, Alaska and across Canada. Shaw participated in the consultation and socio-economic impact assessment work for the Kaminak Coffee Gold Project, Victoria Gold’s Eagle Gold Project and the Casino Project, all based in the Yukon. She is deeply familiar with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act process and was involved in the Mackenzie Gas Project Joint Review Panel process in the NWT. Shaw is currently a director for the Yukon Chamber of Mines.
Dr. Klaus Zeitler – Director
Dr. Klaus Zeitler was the founder and CEO of Inmet from 1987 to 1996. Zeitler was senior vice-president of Teck Cominco Limited from 1997 until 2002, and previously was on the board of directors of Teck Corp. from 1981 to 1997, and Cominco Limited from 1986 to 1996. Zeitler is currently director and executive chairman of Amerigo Resources Ltd. and lead director of Rio2 Limited.
Tara Christie – Director
Tara Christie has over 20 years of experience in the exploration and mining business. Currently the president and CEO of Banyan Gold, Christie serves on the boards of Constantine Metal Resources and Klondike Gold. She was formerly the president of privately owned Gimlex Gold Mines, one of the Yukon’s largest placer mining operations. Christie has been a board member of PDAC, AMEBC and other industry associations and was a founding board member of the Yukon environmental and socioeconomic assessment board. She is active in non-profits and charities, including being president of a registered charity “Every Student, Every Day” that works to improve attendance in Yukon schools.
Michael Vitton – Director
Michael Vitton is the former executive managing director, head, US Equity Sales, Bank of Montreal Capital Markets (BMO Capital Markets), where he originated and placed more than US$200 billion through public and secondary offerings and M&A transactions across all sectors. In the metals and mining sector, Vitton has acted as seed investor, lead/co-lead underwriter or in a M&A capacity in some of the most important deals in the sector, including African Platinum , Arequipa Resources, Bema Gold Brancotte Resources, Comaplex Minerals, Detour Gold, Diamond Fields Resources, Echo Bay Mines, Francisco Gold , Franco-Nevada Gammon Gold, Getchell Gold, among many others. Vitton was also the co-founder of MMX Minerals e Metalicos SA and LLX Logistica SA (Brazil). MMX sold Minas Rio and Amapa assets to Anglo American Corporation for US$5.5 billion in cash in December 2008, returning US$8.8 billion in cash or stock distributions to MMX shareholders, offering six times return from IPO. Additionally, he co-founded Petro Rio SA, one of the leading Brazilian public oil and gas producers, producing over 35,000 bbls per day. Recently, Vitton acted as seed investor and capital markets advisor to Newmarket Gold, which was sold to Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. for C$1 billion, combining to form a C$2.4-billion company. He acted as investor and capital markets advisor to ASX-listed Gold Road Resources Ltd., raising AU$57 million, and bringing the Gruyere gold mine into production jointly with Gold Fields SA. Vitton is a graduate of the University of Michigan Business School, former seat holder, NYSE, and former president, New York Society of Metals Analysts. Vitton is focused on the energy, infrastructure, industrial and mining sectors.
Bill Williams – Director
Bill Williams is an economic geologist with nearly 40 years of experience related to the exploration and development of mining and oil & gas projects, as well as oversight of mining operations. He provides consulting services to the mining industry with a focus on company/project (e)valuations, M&A analyses, risk analysis, project management, and permitting strategies. Most recently, he served as the interim CEO and director of Detour Gold Corporation and was a director and COO of Zinc One Resources Inc., with whom he led the team that made the discovery of the Mina Chica zinc-oxide deposit in the Bongará district, north-central Peru. He is the former CEO, president, and director of Orvana Minerals Corp., prior to which he was a vice-president for Phelps Dodge Exploration overseeing activity in the Americas, which included the discovery of the Haquira porphyry copper deposit in Peru, and working on M&A opportunities. He holds a Ph.D. in economic geology from the University of Arizona and is a certified professional geologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I invest in Western Copper & Gold?
Western Copper & Gold is a public company that trades in the top stock exchanges in the world, in both the New York Stock Exchange American and the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘WRN’.
Why is Western Copper & Gold a good investment?
Western Copper and Gold is an exploration and development mining company advancing its world-class Casino Project, one of the largest copper-gold projects in Canada, located in the Yukon. The Casino deposit hosts a significant resource of almost 21 Moz of gold and 11 billion lbs of copper (M+I+I), and robust economics. According to its feasibility study which considered the Project being constructed as an open pit mine, Casino has a 27-year mine life, with $2.33 billion NPV after tax, and 3 years payback period. Casino has also attracted strategic investments from Rio Tinto and Mitsubishi Materials, providing Western Copper & Gold access to additional operational funding and technical knowledge.
What separates Western Copper & Gold from the rest of the field?
Western Copper and Gold’s president and CEO Paul West-Sells, says, “Casino is a rare asset in that it is sizable, economic, well-advanced and located in a great jurisdiction. Casino is the key asset in the emerging Yukon gold district.” Canada’s Yukon territory ranks among the world’s top most attractive mining investment jurisdictions, with major miners like Rio Tinto, Newmont, Agnico-Eagle and Kinross developing projects in Casino’s neighbouring areas.
What is Western Copper & Gold’s CEO most excited about for 2023?
With the feasibility study completed, Western Copper & Gold CEO Paul West-Sells says his company is now working towards their environmental assessment and permitting. The company is also looking forward to the completion of the Carmacks bypass road, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
What is Western Copper & Gold’s sustainability strategy?
Western Copper & Gold is committed to developing the Casino Project guided by the following four objectives: protect public health and safety; minimize, mitigate or prevent adverse environmental impacts; reclaim the site to a land use state consistent with surrounding conditions; and ensure long-term stability of the spent ore and waste rock storage area and site water quality.