In August, an analyst from billionaire Thomas Kaplan's companies visited the Yukon on a site visit tour featuring stops at several junior mining projects, from early-stage to shovel-ready.
The following month, Kaplan's Electrum Strategic Opportunities Fund stepped up as part of a $22.5-million investment into Kaminak Gold (KAM-V), whose other major shareholders are Ross Beaty and the Lundin trusts.
The New York-based fund doubled down on the Yukon today by taking a major stake in Wellgreen Platinum (WG-V), which is developing one of the world's largest PGM deposits outside of South Africa.
Electrum will invest a total of $12.1 million in Wellgreen units for a shareholding of 26.9% (40.6% including warrants). It's a big vote of confidence in a company that has seen some management turnover and struggled with low commodity prices.
"We are very pleased to announce this substantial equity investment by Electrum. We believe the Company and its shareholders will benefit from Electrum's strong mining expertise as we continue to advance the Wellgreen PGM-nickel project," said Wellgreen president John Sagman, Wellgreen's COO who added the top post when Greg Johnson left in December.
Electrum is also a major shareholder of Rick Van Niewenhuyse's NovaCopper (NCQ-T), which is developing the high-grade Arctic and Bornite deposits in Alaska. Electrum owns 20% plus of NovaCopper's shares outstanding.
Electrum's Kaplan has made a fortune with wagers on early-stage mining companies. He advocates investing in companies developing hard assets, particularly gold and silver, as a hedge against political and economic unrest.
His most prominent mining investment is probably Gabriel Resources, which is developing a vast gold and silver deposit in Romania called Rosia Montana. Electrum has filed a request for arbitration to the World Bank in response to disputes with the Romanian govenrment over the project.
As for Wellgreen Platinum, the junior's flagship project is road-accessible -- just off the Alaska Highway -- and located near a tiny town called Burwash Landing.
The higher-grade parts of the deposit have seen intermittent historical mining, but Wellgreen is aiming to develop a large, low-cost open pit mine producing platinum, palladium, gold, nickel and copper.
On Tuesday night at PDAC I went for dinner with a Yukon crew that included Rob Bruggeman, Wellgreen's VP of Corporate Development. Now I know why Rob had his laptop out during dinner!
Besides the Kaminak and Wellgreen projects, other stops on the analyst site tour were Western Copper's Casino deposit (WRN-T), Rockhaven's Klaza (RK-V), ATAC's Rackla (ATC-V), Alexco's Keno Hill operations (AXR-T) and Victoria Gold's shovel-ready Eagle Gold project (VIT-V).