Royal Gold, Inc. (NASDAQ:RGLD; TSX:RGL)
, today announced that pursuant to its June 2011 Option Agreement with Seabridge Gold, Inc. (“Seabridge”), the Company increased the size of the net smelter return (“NSR”) royalty it may acquire on the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (“KSM”) project from 1.25% to 2.0% by purchasing 1,004,491 common shares of Seabridge (the “Additional Shares”) at a 15% premium to the current market price, for C$18 million. The Company now holds the right to purchase either a 1.25% NSR royalty for C$100 million, or a 2.0% NSR royalty for C$160 million on all of the gold and silver production from the project, payable in three equal installments over a 540-day period. Royal Gold sold the Additional Shares in a private transaction to an unrelated party. The net cost to acquire the right to increase the size of the NSR royalty was approximately $3.6 million. Royal Gold continues to hold 1,019,000 shares of Seabridge common stock purchased in June 2011.
Royal Gold does not expect to consider the royalty purchase until the project achieves certain permitting and financing requirements and a decision to construct has occurred. The options to purchase the NSR royalty will remain exercisable for 60 days following Royal Gold’s satisfaction that the project has received all material approvals and permits, has sufficient committed funding for construction, and certain other conditions have been met.
The KSM project has proven and probable reserves of 2.2 billion tonnes at an average grade of 0.55 grams per tonne of gold (38.2 million ounces), 0.21% copper (10 billion pounds), and 2.74 grams per tonne silver (191 million ounces). Based on Seabridge’s Preliminary Feasibility Study, dated June 22, 2012, precious metal production could average 508,000 ounces of gold and 2.2 million ounces of silver per year, over the 55-year mine life, with higher metal production levels forecast for the first seven years of the project. Seabridge is in the process of completing its Environmental Assessment Application and expects to file it with the regulators in January 2013.