Neumeyer Rebuffed by
Moneta Porcupine

Issue 160, April 2016

First Mining Finance, the gold vehicle backed by dealmaker Keith Neumeyer, has been pursuing gold junior Moneta Porcupine for several months, Global Mining Observer reports. The approach has been rebuffed but not disclosed.

Toronto-listed Moneta owns the 4.3m ounce Golden Highway project in Ontario. Neumeyer first approached the company two years ago and has made several approaches since, but has failed to land an agreement.

First Mining Finance listed last year and has been aggressively buying small gold companies. It held talks in February in London with a former Moneta insider, but according to sources involved, has failed to win over any significant pool of investors, who are believed to be backing current management.

Neumeyer, who privately jokes that he is “creating unemployment” in the industry by turfing out management teams, entered mining in the 1980s. He was vice-president of investor relations at First Quantum, before reinventing himself in silver, founding Mexican silver play First Majestic. Neumeyer has founded First Mining Finance to focus on gold.

Oban Mining

Oban Mining, the junior gold developer backed by mine-builder Sean Roosen, has also approached Moneta Porcupine, according to sources, but has not tabled an offer. “The conversation ended very quickly,” a source involved in the process says. Moneta's management is understood to have signed confidentiality agreements with several larger companies that can advance its assets, rather than warehouse them.

Both Oban and First Mining Finance have been scooping up distressed gold assets in the current downturn, in predominantly paper-funded deals. The two companies have amassed 5.5m and 7.8m ounces respectively, paying prices as low as $2.20 per ounce. They are thought to have previously competed for assets.

But some analysts question whether First Mining has bought anything of any real long-term worth. Its Pickle Crow project is flooded, its Springpole project is sitting under a deep lake and its Duparquet property is bristling with arsenic. The company has more than quadrupled its share count in the last 12 months.

Going Hostile

Despite being courted by other companies, Moneta Porcupine has a low cash burn rate and is understood to be happy to sit out the cycle, rather than drop the goods at the bottom of the market. Moneta's shares have surged ahead of gold this year, up 54 per cent. Until recently, First Mining had put on a more modest 15 per cent, as the company has continued to issue stock to buy new assets, but its shares have spiked in recent days, up over 30 per cent on zero news flow.

First Mining Finance internally has plans to upgrade its listing in Toronto, allowing it to buy shares in target companies, giving it greater leverage going into takeover talks. The company has openly discussed going hostile on firms that rebuff its advances, but has also maintained that it has a long list of possible targets. “There's a list of targets and we're not going to comment on that list,” a company insider said.

“The conversation ended very quickly.”

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