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Continued exploration at Bidjovagge
On August 6 2021, Arctic Minerals communicated that they will seek an extension of five out of nine extraction permits, which are about to expire in 2021. The company has also been granted six new exploration permits, where, among other things, geophysical exploration will be conducted. The company also intends to update its mineral resources, which is done by an external specialized consultant company.
In our initial coverage, we valued Bidjovagge as the second most valuable asset of Arctic Minerals, close in value to Peräpohja (the joint venture with Rio Tinto), though Finland is of course the area of focus for Arctic Minerals. It is a problematic asset in that the municipality of Kautokeino, where Bidjovagge is located, has redefined the zoning of Bidjovagge into use for “Agriculture, Nature, Leisure and Reindeer husbandry”. So even if Arctic Minerals can be granted extraction and exploration permits from the central mining authority in Norway to do exploration, they cannot proceed to the construction of a mining as long as the municipality is obstracting the process. Still, we interpret the company’s decision to not just to seek to prolong the extraction permits that are about to expire, but even to make further explorations in adjacent areas as a positive sign. We also believe that the potential value of the project is so large that Arctic Minerals cannot simply abandon it.
The company intends to seek a partner for the project. In order to construct a mine the company planned to raise SEK 400m (EUR 40m) in 2013. At present, this does not seem a realistic scenario to us. Therefore the company will depend on a partner for the capital and skill in planning and constructing the mine. A prerequisite for a sale or some kind of commercial deal is the change of the zoning of Bidjovagge so that the construction of a mine is permitted. The company needs to convince the local politicians of the positive facets of a new mine, such as new employment opportunities and an improved economy. A partner that is used to dealing with regulations and governments might also be a useful ally in this respect. The municipality can reverse its previous decision to change the zoning at its own discretion (local elections are due in 2023), which would enable the construction of a mine.
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