Investments in Recent Mining De-SPACs Hold Them Above Broader Sector Gloom
by Nicholas Alan Clayton on 2023-10-27 at 7:50am

Sagging commodity prices for metals has been bad news for the five metals miners that completed SPAC deals in over the past three years and potentially a complicating development for the four announced deals still pending close.

Most public miners see their equity values trade fairly tightly to the perceived value of their outflows and proven reserves based on a range of possible prices, and all involved expect those numbers to be fluid. But, it may be easier to maintain that comfort level once already on the public markets versus looking to get a deal on to a close without dragging the process too far out with terms changes.

One year ago today, Sizzle Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ:SZZL) announced its combination with Critical Metals, a spinoff of European Lithium (ASX:EUR) containing its rights to develop the Wolfsberg lithium mine in Austria.

That transaction is still under review without an approved S-4, but its parent provided an update today noting that it has secured an additional $10 million in financing for the Wolfsberg mine, which could provide some additional redemptions-proof security for its development.

Such financings may be the way forward for mining targets during a period of high-redemptions and market skepticism. Metals Acquisition Limited (NYSE:MTAL) took this concept all the way, negotiating a patchwork of debt and equity instruments based on commodity prices that obviated the need to rely on anything more than the backstopped portions of the trust carried by the SPAC of the same name.

It took a little over a year and a long list of deal adjustments to fit each piece of financing in, but it appears to have paid off. Metals, which operates an Australian copper mine carved out from Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) holdings, has traded above $10 outside of two brief dips since completing its deal in June and it last close at $11.

This performance is even more impressive considering copper prices are down about -8% from that time and -16% from their 2023 high, but that hasn’t budged its share price.

Tanzanian nickel miner Lifezone Metals (NYSE:LZM) closed its combination with GoGreen three weeks later and has been similarly undisturbed from its closing price as it continues to trade around $10 with a range that bottomed out post-close at $8.32 and hit a high of $19.92.

Its primary resource, nickel, is down about -18.8% on the year with -12.2% of the drop occurring since its close. It did not add commodity-linked financing through its de-SPAC process, but its $70.2 million PIPE was reasonably large compared with its $682 million enterprise value in the deal and it maintained a further $16.4 million from GoGreen’s trust. Both added to $39 million the company already had on its balance sheet so the company remains well-capitalized for now.

By comparison, Glencore itself is down about -21% on the year and major miners Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) and Rio Tinto are down -13% and -12% year-to-date, respectively.

Older de-SPACs have seen more market movement on commodity prices, however. Rare earth miner MP Materials was one of the first high-performers of the SPAC boom following its 2020 combination with Fortress Value. With a steep fall off in rare earth metal prices, MP Materials’ revenue has shrunk -55% year-on-year and its share price followed it down -53% from its 52-week high.

This drop was from an attractively high perch of $36.67, and even at its last close of $17.22, MP Materials marks a clear de-SPAC success story. Meanwhile, the same factors that propelled rare earth metals downward – supply chain problems slowing EV battery production – are all expected to reverse eventually.

In fact, with EVs getting larger and larger – now to RV size – that demand might even reach higher than expected.


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