Western Copper and Gold has received C$25.6m ($21.2m) investment from Rio Tinto Canada to advance its Casino copper-gold project in the Yukon, Canada.

Rio Tinto has agreed to subscribe for and purchase 11,808,490 common shares of Western, at a price of C$2.17 ($1.8) per share, which represent 8% of Western’s outstanding common shares.

Upon closing of the investment, Western will remain as the sole owner of the Casino project and will continue as the operator for the project.

The company will use the investment to fund specific areas of study, a part of the feasibility study and permitting a progressing to a development phase for the Casino project.

The project is estimated to contain 965 million tonnes (Mt) of proven and probable mill ore reserves and 157Mt of proven and probable heap leach reserves.

Western Copper and Gold president and CEO Paul West-Sells said: “We are pleased to welcome Rio Tinto as a strategic investor in the Company.

“The investment by Rio Tinto, a leading global mining group which operates in 35 countries around the world, and whose purpose is to produce the materials essential to human progress is a strong endorsement of the Casino Project.  We look forward to working with Rio Tinto to advance Casino.”

In relation with the investment, Western and Rio Tinto will enter into an investor rights agreement, where Rio Tinto will have certain rights, subject to certain conditions.

It will hold the right to appoint one member to a Casino project technical committee, one non-voting observer to attend meetings, and one director of the company, if its ownership increases to a minimum of 12.5%.

Under the terms of the investor rights agreement, Rio Tinto has also agreed not to sell, transfer, or dispose of any shares without first notifying Western, for a period of 12 months.

The closing of the investment is expected by the end of this month, subject to regulatory approval.

For the investment by Rio Tinto, RBC Capital Markets served as financial advisor to Western.