Huge cleanup bill for Imperial Metals may force partial asset sale

Mon Aug 11, 2014 4:47pm EDT
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By Euan Rocha and Allison Martell

TORONTO Aug 11 (Reuters) - Canada's Imperial Metals Corp faces huge cleanup costs after a major spill at its Mount Polley mine that may force the miner to sell part of a prized new asset unless its biggest shareholder steps in to help, bankers and industry executives said.

Imperial is on the hook for cleanup costs related to the spill, which sent billions of gallons of sludge containing metals and minerals coursing into waterways last week.

Analysts said costs could range from C$50 million to C$500 million, once a proper assessment is made on the impact of one of Canada's worst mine spills in decades.

The mine, which produced 38.5 million pounds of copper and 45,800 ounces of gold last year, has been shut indefinitely.

Debt rating agency Moody's warned on Friday it was concerned the miner may not have the liquidity to absorb the financial impact of the spill.

Imperial had C$1.5 million in cash versus C$464 million in debt, and a working capital deficit of C$21.7 million as of the end of March, according to its financial statements.

"The shutdown of Mount Polley will stretch thin an already tight balance sheet," Raymond James analyst Adam Low said in a note to clients.

Imperial Metals declined multiple requests for comment.   Continued...