Niblack parent company settles debt, gets new CEO
The owners of a multi-metal prospect in Southeast Alaska have new leadership and potentially new life through an agreement to settle $3.4 million of debt.
Vancouver-based Heatherdale Resources Ltd. announced June 3 that it had reached the settlement with fellow Canadian mining firm Hunter Dickinson Services Inc. that clears the vast majority of the debt Heatherdale had compiled with Hunter Dickinson through normal business.
Heatherdale Resources is the sole owner of the Niblack underground copper, gold, silver and zinc prospect on a remote portion of southern Prince of Wales Island.
According to a statement from Heatherdale, the company had accrued more than $4 million (Canadian) in debt to Hunter Dickinson as of late last year. The settlement grants Hunter Dickinson more than 35 million shares in Heatherdale at a price of 9.75 cents per share.
Robert McLeod, one of the purchasers of the stock, will take over as a director and CEO of Heatherdale as part of the deal as well. Heatherdale Chairman and CEO David J. Copeland agreed to step down from the leadership position and make way for McLeod, according to the company.
McLeod is a professional geoscientist with more than 25 years of experience in mineral exploration, having worked primarily in Alaska, Northwest Canada and Nevada, according to Heatherdale.
Hunter Dickinson is an owner in Northern Dynasty Minerals, which is the sole owner of the large and contentious Pebble deposit in Southwest Alaska. Ron Thiessen is a director and CEO of both mining firms.
Heatherdale leaders said issuing the settlement shares will help the company preserve cash for future work.
“The company’s board of directors believes that the debt restructuring is necessary to provide the company with a clean balance sheet in order to attract new capital and position the company to unlock value from its current project and acquire new interests,” the June 3 statement reads.
Heatherdale has held the Niblack prospect since 2009 but work had slowed of late as the company dealt with its financial issues.
The Niblack deposits hold 5.6 million metric tons of indicated resources with an average copper grade of 0.95 percent; 1.73 percent zinc; 1.75 grams per ton of gold, and 29.5 grams per ton of silver. Niblack also holds another 3.4 million tons of inferred resources at slightly lower metal grades, according to Heatherdale.
The underground Niblack mine would mill between 1,000 and 1,500 metric tons of ore per day for 10-plus years if it is developed. Heatherdale has proposed a plant for processing metal concentrates on Gravina Island near Ketchikan — an operating model similar to that being advanced by Ucore Rare Metals Inc., which is working on the Bokan rare earth element prospect near Niblack on Prince of Wales. Ucore is planning a processing facility in Ketchikan, the company has said.
Both projects received a boost from the state back in 2014 when the Legislature approved a bill signed by former Gov. Sean Parnell allowing the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to assist in financing their development.
At the time, Heatherdale was seeking a partner in the project, which was then estimated to cost between $175 million and $250 million to develop.
The legislation authorized AIDEA to put up to $125 million into Niblack.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].