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McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX)

McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX) is an asset rich diversified gold and silver producer in the Americas with a large exposure to copper through its subsidiary, McEwen Copper, owner of the Los Azules copper deposit in Argentina, believed to be the 8th  largest undeveloped copper resource in the world.

Led by a management team with a track record of success, MUX owns and operates mines in some of the most prolific gold producing regions of the Americas. The company proactively took cost-saving measures months ago to lower expenses and increase production across its portfolio of gold assets, driving some production costs below industry averages. Gold and copper prices, already in an upswing, are forecast to enter an explosive uptrend over the next couple years. Drawing from its experience, McEwen Mining planned, prepared and laid the groundwork to capitalize on this emerging opportunity.

The company currently holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), placing it in the top 5% of over 4,000 stocks ranked by Zacks, based on trends in earnings estimate revisions and EPS surprises. Seldom is management so aligned with investors’ interests and committed to the company’s success. With a combined investment of over $220 million, CEO Rob McEwen holds a 17% ownership stake in McEwen Mining and a 13% ownership in McEwen Copper. Acclaimed in the mining industry, McEwen founded Goldcorp, where he increased the company’s market capitalization 160 times – from $50 million to over $8 billion. That same vision and tenacity led MUX in creating McEwen Copper.

For McEwen Mining shareholders, beyond the company’s exposure to gold upsurges, its 47.7% stake in McEwen Copper is expected to be a blockbuster, turbocharging MUX  by creating the world’s next prolific copper unicorn.

McEwen Copper

With continuous industrial need, new critical demand for copper is rapidly emerging, increasingly driven by the green energy transition. The price of copper rose from a low of about $2 per pound in 2020 to over $4.60 per pound in May 2024, and strong demand is expected to intensify. A study by S&P Global, titled The Future of Copper: Will the Looming Supply Gap Short-circuit the Energy Transition?, projects global copper demand to nearly double over the next decade, from 25 million metric tons today to about 50 million metric tons by 2035. Based on current trends, S&P Global forecasts annual supply shortfalls to reach nearly 10 million metric tons in 2035.

McEwen Mining owns a 47.7% equity stake in McEwen Copper, the holder of a 100% interest in the Los Azules copper project in San Juan, Argentina, which is ranked the 8th largest undeveloped copper deposit in the world. Current copper resources at Los Azules are estimated at 10.9 billion pounds at a grade of 0.40% Cu (Indicated category) and an additional 26.7 billion pounds at a grade of 0.31% Cu (Inferred category). McEwen Copper also owns a copper exploration project in Nevada, USA, called Elder Creek.

In a 2023 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), Los Azules was estimated to have a 27-year life, producing an average of 321 million lbs. of copper cathode annually, at a cash cost of $1.07 per lb. of copper, in the lowest quartile of the copper cost curve. The project could ultimately become an even larger mine with a longer life, with less than 40% being mined.

The project’s 2023 PEA presents a distinctly different development strategy from a prior PEA published in 2017. By proposing a heap leach project using solvent extraction-electrowinning instead of the previously detailed mine with a conventional mill and flotation concentrator, McEwen Copper aims to decrease its environmental footprint and reduce permitting risk, albeit with a lower overall copper recovery, slightly higher unit costs and a delay in immediate cashflow due to extended leach cycles.

Rob McEwen led with a $10 million order, and after securing a $25 million investment from mining giant Rio Tinto’s technology arm, Nuton LLC, McEwen Copper closed its non-brokered, private placement offering of $82 million in August 2022. Shortly after, in February 2023, Nuton agreed to invest an additional $30 million into McEwen Copper, and in October 2023, Nuton once again expanded its stake, investing an additional $10 million to bring its ownership position in McEwen Copper to 14.5%.

“We are extremely pleased to have Nuton’s strong continued participation in McEwen Copper,” Rob McEwen stated in a news release. “Together we are exploring new technologies that save energy, water, time and capital in the pursuit of delivering green copper to Argentina and the world, a product that will contribute to the electrification of transportation and the protection of our atmosphere.”

Also in February 2023, FCA Argentina S.A., a subsidiary of Stellantis N.V., one of the world’s leading automakers, invested ARS $30 billion in McEwen Copper. In October 2023, Stellantis invested an additional ARS $42 billion, bringing its current stake in McEwen Copper to 19.4%.

“We are delighted to have Stellantis as a partner in the future development of our Los Azules copper project,” Rob McEwen said of the investment. “Together, we share a vision to build a mine for the future based on regenerative principles that can achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2038.”

Following the capital raise, McEwen Copper is well-funded to advance its Los Azules Project, with a Feasibility Study planned for Q1 2025. MUX strategically reduced its interest to increase its treasury, in order to reduce debt and fund the further development of its gold and silver assets.

Gold & Silver Projects

The Fox Complex

McEwen Mining owns a 100% stake in the Fox Complex in the heart of a prolific gold district in Timmins, Canada.

When MUX bought the Fox Complex, in late 2017, it was a distressed asset with a history of high operating cost/oz. While it has taken longer than I expected, the cost to produce an ounce of gold is significantly lower,” CEO Rob McEwen stated in a news release.

McEwen Mining issued 2024 guidance for its cash cost/oz at the Fox Complex of $1,225-1,325 on annual production of 40,000-42,000 GEOs. Fox Complex produced 44,450 GEOs in 2023, which was within the company’s guidance range for production but not cost/oz guidance.

Located in one of the most prolific gold production areas in the world, along the Destor-Porcupine Fault Zone within the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, the Fox Complex includes the Black Fox mine and Froome mine which together have yielded over 1,000,000 ounces of gold to date. Also, the complex includes the Grey Fox and Stock deposits that have over 1,800,000 ounces in  gold resources. The 2.7-billion-year-old Abitibi Greenstone Belt, formed by ancient volcanic activity, has proved to be one of the world’s richest and most abundant gold regions, with a total gold content currently estimated at over 300 million ounces.

In May 2024, MUX will commence development of underground ramp access to the Stock orebodies at the Fox Complex. This development will become the primary source of feed following the completion of mining the Froome deposit in 2026. As part of the future mining sequence initiative, the company has already reported a 31% year-over-year increase of gold resources at Stock West and Stock Main (historical Stock Mine), with confirmation of good grading structures plunging to depth. It has also identified Stock East as a potential new near-term source of future revenue.

The Gold Bar Mine

McEwen Mining owns a 100% stake in the Gold Bar mine, located in an area well known for gold production, the southern Roberts Mountains of the Battle Mountain-Eureka-Cortez gold trend in Eureka County, Central Nevada. The Gold Bar mine is on the same geological structure, 25 miles south of Nevada Gold Mines, a Barrick-Newmont joint venture, part of the Cortez-Goldrush complex. This complex contains estimated reserves and resources of over 50 million gold ounces, with an annual production of 1,000,000 gold ounces.

Gold Bar had been mined between 1991 and 1994, producing 134,000 gold ounces. A new facility was built by MUX in 2019. Gold Bar accounted for 42,700 GEOs in 2023, within the company’s guidance for the year. For 2024, McEwen Mining issued guidance of 40,000-43,000 at a cash cost of $1,450-1,550. The first half of the year is expected to deliver higher production relative to the second half, due to a scheduled waste stripping phase in the Pick pit, in preparation for the 2025 mining program.

Notably, in April 2024, McEwen Mining announced its entry into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with Timberline Resources Corporation (TSX.V: TBR) (OTCQB: TLRS) in a transaction valued at roughly $18.8 million. The merger with Timberline is expected to augment McEwen’s existing portfolio of production and exploration projects in Nevada, leveraging synergies between Timberline’s projects and the Company’s Gold Bar mine.

El Gallo/Fenix

Project Fenix is the proposed redevelopment plan for McEwen Mining’s El Gallo Complex in Mexico. There is a long history of mining in this region. MUX began operating it as an open pit, heap leach mine in 2013, which produced 281,000 gold equivalent ounces at average cash cost of $655 per ounce. Due to the transition to deeper sulfide mineralization that is not amenable to heap leaching, mining activities ceased in the second quarter of 2018 and residual heap leaching followed until mid-2023. The redevelopment plan envisions constructing a mill at the existing mine site that will initially reprocess the existing heap leach material, then transition to open pit mining and processing of the sulphide gold and silver mineralization. The company recently acquired a complete process plant on very advantageous terms that has considerably reduced the projected capital requirements for the project.

CEO Rob McEwen stated in a news release, “This acquisition has made Fenix more attractive to build and could provide a new long life mine for McEwen Mining.

The initial development approach is to build a mill to reprocess the material on the heap leach pad and produce in the range of 18,000 – 26,000 oz of gold annually for eight years. Construction of the Fenix project is expected to begin in the second half of 2024.

San José Mine

McEwen Mining is a 49% owner and non-operator of the San José gold and silver mine, located in Santa Cruz province, Argentina, encircling Newmont’s prolific Cerro Negro (approx. 300,000 gold ounces produced in 2023). This high-grade underground mine has been operating since 2007 and currently has an expected life of six years with a reserve grade of 296 gpt silver and 5.4 gpt gold.

Exploration is continuing to extend high-grade veins and discover new veins at the complex. San José’s drilling programs to define additional resources and reserves have a long history of success due to a high vein density, aided by good geophysical response from hidden veins.

Production guidance for 2024 for MUX’s 49% interest is 50,000-60,000 GEOs. As a minority shareholder in the mine, MUX equity accounts for its investment in San José, and receives 49% of the dividends from the mine’s free cash flow.

Market Outlook

Mining stocks suffered significant losses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this has turned, and many analysts now forecast a gold bull market in 2024 and beyond.

The operating challenges we faced in recent years have severely damaged our credibility with our shareholders and the market. As a result, few investors have taken a close look recently at our assets,” Rob McEwen said in a news release. “If they did, I believe some would see the potential value that I see today… I believe there is considerable potential value in MUX, and that is a big reason why I have a personal financial commitment of $220 million in MUX and McEwen Copper.

Management Team

Robert R. McEwen is Chairman, CEO and Chief Owner of McEwen Mining. He has been associated with the gold industry all his career, with his first 18 years in the investment industry and, since 1990, as CEO of several gold mining companies. He founded Goldcorp and took that company from a $50 million market capitalization to more than $8 billion. He owns 17% of McEwen Mining and is in complete alignment with investors – his investment in MUX and McEwen Copper is $220 million and he takes an annual salary of only $1. He was awarded the Order of Canada and the Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Award, was inducted into the Mining Hall of Fame, was named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has Honorary Doctor of Law degrees from York University and Western University.

William Shaver is interim COO and a Director of McEwen Mining. He has decades of management and executive experience in mine design, construction and operations. He was a founder of Dynatec Corporation, which became one of the leading contracting and mine operating groups in North America. In 2013, he was recognized as Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Most recently, he served as COO of INV Metals. He is a Professional Engineer with a B.Sc. in Mining Engineering from Queens University.

Perry Ing is interim CFO at McEwen Mining. He has 25 years of experience in the Canadian mining industry. Over the past 15 years, he has held positions as CFO of Mountain Province Diamonds, Kirkland Lake Gold and McEwen Mining. Prior to that, he worked at Barrick Gold and Goldcorp and started his career in the mining practice at PwC. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto and is a Chartered Professional Accountant in Canada and Certified Professional Accountant in the U.S.

Adrian Blanco S. is the company’s Director of Operations for America and Mexico. He has extensive international experience in several industrial sectors and has held executive positions in Mexico, the United States, Peru and Argentina. He joined the McEwen Mining team in 2015 and has led a successful business transformation toward operational discipline, best business practices and financial profitability at subsidiaries Compañia Minera Pangea and McEwen Mining Nevada. He graduated from an Executive Management Program at IPADE and Harvard Business School.

Michael Meding is Vice President and General Manager of McEwen Copper. He has over 20 years of international experience, primarily with major mining companies such as Barrick Gold and Trafigura, including extensive experience with project development and operations in Argentina. While at Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine in Argentina, Mr. Meding played a key role in the turnaround, extension of the mine life and subsequent strategic partnering with Shandong Gold. He holds an MBA from Indiana University in Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Leipzig Graduate School of Management in Germany.

Investment Considerations

  • McEwen Mining is an asset rich gold and silver producer with large exposure to copper.
  • McEwen Mining CEO Rob McEwen maintains a 17% ownership stake in McEwen Mining and 13% in the McEwen Copper subsidiary, with an investment of roughly $220 million.
  • McEwen Copper’s Los Azules project is one of the world’s largest and most economically robust undeveloped copper projects.

Additional Resources


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