Skip to main content

Champion Iron finalises refinancing to optimise capital structure and transaction to acquire 100% of Bloom Lake

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

Champion Iron Limited’s (Champion) subsidiary Québec Iron Ore Inc. (QIO), operator of the Bloom Lake Mining Complex, has concluded an agreement in principal with la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) for a preferred share offering of CAN$185 million plus a commitment for a fully underwritten US$200 million credit facility with The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) and Societe Generale (SocGen). The proceeds of such financings will be used to fund strategic initiatives and to refinance QIO’s current outstanding credit facilities, thereby significantly reducing their carrying costs. In addition, Champion is pleased to report that its subsidiary QIO has concluded an agreement with the government of Québec, through its agent Resources Québec Inc. (RQ), to acquire RQ’s 36.8% equity interest in QIO for a total cash consideration of CAN$211 million (the Transaction). The Transaction would increase Champion’s stake in QIO to 100%.

Conference call details

Champion will host a conference call and webcast at 9:00 AM, Eastern Time, on Wednesday 29 May 2019 to discuss the capital restructuring and the transaction.

Commenting on the transaction and capital restructuring, David Cataford, CEO of Champion, said: “Modifying the capital structure of Champion will provide substantial cost savings to our company. We are thrilled to see CDPQ continue to support our growth initiatives and count on new financial partners like Scotiabank and Societe Generale. Their confidence in our company is extremely motivating. Increasing our ownership of Bloom Lake to 100% is a prudent use of our capital, given the proven production and cash flow generation this project has delivered. Champion is very fortunate to be operating in a jurisdiction which has provided us with timely support. We thank the government of Québec for believing in the project when capital was scarce, and we are proud to be able to deliver them excellent returns for their initial investment. Finally, we are pleased to continue our partnership with the government of Québec through its mandatary, Ressources Québec, as a key shareholder of our publicly listed entity, Champion Iron.”

Transaction highlights

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive on key operating and financial metrics, including earnings, EBITDA and operating cash flow per share. The transaction utilises Champion’s balance sheet strength while maintaining low financial leverage. The transaction is expected to allow the increase of allocated production to Champion by approximately 2.75 million tpy of high-grade iron ore. The closing of the transaction is anticipated to occur in the summer of 2019 and is subject to customary conditions as well as to the procurement by QIO of the necessary financing as described herein. The transaction will be funded from proceeds of newly refinanced facilities in addition to cash on hand.

Capital restructuring highlights

  • Significantly reduces cost of debt: at current effective rates, the new debt facility weighted average cost of debt ranges between 6.88% and 7.67% depending on the company’s EBITDA compared to a weighted average cost of debt between 12.37% and 14.75% for the current credit facilities put in place to finance the Bloom Lake restart in October 2017.
  • Fully underwritten by sophisticated global financiers: Scotiabank and SocGen have partnered as Joint Lead Arrangers, Joint Bookrunners and Co-Underwriters.
  • Maintains CDPQ as strategic partner: CDPQ’s total commitment to the company increases by approximately CAN$57 million, from US$100 million of long-term debt to CAN$185 million as preferred shares.

Improves balance sheet flexibility

Compared to QIO’s current long-term debt facilities, this loan facility bears less covenants, further enabling the company to contemplate organic growth opportunities and greater flexibility.

QIO has entered into an agreement in principal for the issuance of perpetual preferred shares with CDPQ for total proceeds of CAN$185 million (the Investment). Proceeds from the Investment will be used to fund current and future strategic initiatives and repay CDPQ’s existing subordinated credit facility held by QIO of CAN$128 million (US$100 million). The dividend rate associated with the preferred shares will be based on the gross realised iron price and will fluctuate from 9.25% when the gross realised iron price for Bloom Lake 66.2% iron ore is greater than US$85/t to 13.25% should the gross realised iron ore price decrease below US$65/t. CDPQ’s investment is subject to customary conditions as well as the repayment of the current CDPQ subordinated credit facility granted to QIO, receipt of all required regulatory approval and the issuance of 15 million warrants of Champion to CDPQ with an exercise price of CAN$2.45 and a 7 year term.

In addition, QIO has signed a commitment letter with Scotiabank and SocGen for a fully underwritten US$200 million credit facility (the Loan Facility). Upon completion and execution of the final loan documentation, the Loan Facility will be available by way of a US$180 million senior secured fully amortising non-revolving credit facility (the Term Facility) in addition to a US$20 million senior secured revolving credit facility (the Revolving Facility). The Loan Facility will bear interest between LIBOR plus 2.85% if the net debt to EBITDA ratio is lower or equal to 1.00x to LIBOR plus 3.75% if the net debt to EBITDA ratio is greater than 2.50x.

The Term Facility will mature five years from the closing date while the Revolving Facility will mature three years from the closing date. The Loan Facility funds will be used to repay outstanding long-term debt instruments in the aggregate amount of US$103 million previously made available by Glencore International AG and Sprott Private Resource Lending (Collector) LP and to fund current and future strategic initiatives. The Term Facility shall be repaid in equal quarterly installments of principal and accrued interest starting on the second full year following the closing date and is not subject to prepayment penalties. The Loan Facility includes standard and customary finance terms and conditions including with respect to fees, representations, warranties, covenants and conditions precedent prior to closing.

Closing of the Loan Facility, which is not subject to further technical due diligence, is anticipated to occur in the summer of 2019.

Conference call and webcast Information

A conference call and webcast to discuss today’s announcement will be held on Wednesday 29 May 2019, at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. Listeners may access a live webcast of the conference call from the Investors section of the company’s website at or by dialling toll free 1-888-390-0546 within North America or +1-800-076-068 from Australia.

An online archive of the webcast will be available by accessing the company’s website at A telephone replay will be available for one week after the call by dialling +1-888-390-0541 within North America or +1-416-764-8677 overseas, and entering passcode 796369#.

Read the article online at:

You might also like

Technology At The Heart Of Real Progress

Max Luedtke, ABB, Switzerland, explains how connected engineering innovations such as truck electrification, gearless conveyor drives, and ventilation on demand are helping mine operators balance productivity with sustainability as they transition to the all-electric mines of the future.


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):


This article has been tagged under the following:

Canadian mining news