Blackberry has not yet indicated whether it plans to go down that road. If it elects to put the project up for sale, Quaterra will receive 5 percent of the future net sale price.Securities Disclosure: I, Nick Wells, hold no direct investment in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Editorial Disclosure: Quaterra Resources is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content. Quaterra Shifting Away from Silver, Agrees to Sell Nieves Project from Silver Investing News
Quaterra Resources (TSXV:QTA) ended long-term speculation on Monday by confirming that it has agreed to sell its 50-percent stake in the Nieves silver project to Blackberry Ventures I for US$4 million. The company has been looking to shift the project for the better part of two years in the face of a depressed metals market and a desire to focus on its Yerington assets. "It hasn't been a strategic fit for us," said CEO Steve Dischler. "We've been talking off and on in a variety of ways to manage the Nieves project. Over the last few months it became obvious that if we were going to get out of our option then [Blackberry] would be the obvious choice." The idea of selling Nieves arose in a June conference call between investors and Dischler, with investors questioning what the future held for non-Yerington assets in light of Quaterra's offtake agreement with Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX). A preliminary economic assessment for Nieves was completed in September 2012; it estimates that an open-pit mine would produce more than 5 million ounces of silver per year over a 10-year lifespan. However, since then, the project has been largely dormant as new management moved in and looked to consolidate Quaterra's focus. A depressed silver market has also done little to help the project generate appeal, with silver falling 21 percent this year. The white metal has been in a free fall since 2011, plummeting 64 percent since it saw a high of $45 per ounce in April 2011. That said, Christopher Ecclestone, principle and mining strategist with Hallgarten & Company, said the sale is a "stunning" good deal for Blackberry and will allow the project to finally grow. "[It's] taking the asset out of the 'do-nothing' hands of Quaterra and potentially putting it on a path to production," wrote Ecclestone in an email.