AEON Metals drilling its existing tenements in Queensland. Credit: Aeon Metals

AEON Metals drilling its existing tenements in Queensland. Credit: Aeon Metals

Tinkler Nemesis Pockets Copper Assets in Queensland

Issue 80, April 2014

Aeon Metals, a tiny copper explorer in Queensland, has landed a clutch of copper deposits previously held by one-time coal baron, Nathan Tinkler, in a surprise A$27m ($25m) deal.

Aeon is headed by Hamish Collins, a former Tinkler associate who sued his former boss for nearly A$200m.

A mining engineer turned banker, Collins was chief executive of Tinkler’s coal business during its A$480m acquisition of the Maules Creek coal mine in New South Wales, plucked from Rio Tinto at the depths of its cash-raising efforts in late 2008.

Maules was later floated by Tinkler and sold to Whitehaven Coal in a A$3bn deal, but Collins had moved onto assembling Tinkler’s private copper interests, including the Walford deposit in Queensland, consigned to administrators after Tinkler collapsed with coal prices in 2013.

Collins settled a bonus dispute with his former boss in May last year, but on Tuesday, his new vehicle Aeon Metals entered a trading halt, announcing the acquisition of Tinkler’s copper business on Thursday morning for A$1, plus A$7m in stock and the undertaking of a A$20m non-recourse loan, with proceeds going to Tinkler’s creditors in Hong Kong.

His re-emergence suggests Hamish Collins may have been the brains behind the original purchase of Maules. “This is a major deal for a junior like us,” straight-talking Collins said this week in an announcement to the Australian stock exchange. “The resources industry is all about market timing and quality of asset base.”

Insiders to the deal told Global Mining Observer that Aeon values the assets at well over A$30m, “everyday of the week.” Walford has a 48m tonne JORC resource grading 1.4 per cent copper equivalent, defined over a 4km drill zone, part of a 25km strike. The company expects to more than double the size of the resource in the next 21 months, sources said.

Tinkler is believed to have valued the assets at over A$75m, before deeming them “dormant” and “speculative” in court papers. Aeon, which is valued at A$27m ($25m) and 17 per cent held by director John Goody, has meanwhile raised A$8m for a drilling campaign at Walford, exceeding its A$7m target.

Shares traded Thursday at A$15c.

“The resources industry is all about market timing and quality of asset base.”

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