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Tito Martins, CEO of Nexa Resources SA, left, shakes hands with Luis Ermirio de Moraes, the company’s chairman, centre, during Nexa’s IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 27, 2017.

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The revival in Canadian mining initial public offerings (IPOs) is a boon not only for investment bankers, but Bay Street lawyers, too, who are coming off a few years in the wilderness.

Nexa Resources SA, which went public last week in the third-biggest mining IPO in Canadian history, paid $3.3-million (U.S.) to a cadre of law firms, including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in the United States, as well as Canadian firms Stikeman Elliott LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP, according to a regulatory filing. The fees are especially welcome for Canadian lawyers, after about two years of little or no activity in mining IPOs.

For Stikeman Elliott mining lawyer Ivan Grbesic, who worked for months on the Nexa file, the IPO of the Luxembourg-based zinc miner represented a number of firsts.

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"Probably the deal that we've worked on where we've had the largest number of all-nighters," he said in an interview.

Nexa's prospectus is also the biggest he's ever worked on, or even seen in his roughly 15-year career. At almost 700 pages, it's as big as a Sudbury phone book, he quips. The main reason the document was exceptionally long was because of the addition of a 171-page summary of technical reports on the miner's various properties, he said.

Despite some nervousness on the part of its chief executive officer about coming to market after a protracted period of IPO mining dormancy, the Nexa public offering went off without a hitch last Friday. It was timed well, with zinc prices up about 25 per cent this year, and priced right, with the stock increasing 9 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange on the first day. On Tuesday, the company said it had exercised the over-allotment option, which brought total proceeds to $570.4-million.

"It may be early to label it a comeback, but there's definitely signs of life and a positive trend in the Canadian IPO metals and mining sector," Mr. Grbesic said.

The mining sector is recovering thanks to improving metal prices, renewed interest from institutional investors and years of cost cutting in the industry.

A number of smaller public offerings have also come to market in Canada this year, including Superior Gold Inc., which raised $33-million (Canadian) in February. Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. raised $206-million in June. In the past few weeks, Ero Copper Corp. and Titan Mining Corp. raised just under $180-million combined. Meantime, Canadian steel maker Stelco Holdings Inc. is currently marketing its IPO and expected to raise about $200-million.

Despite the rush of activity over the past six weeks or so, Mr. Grbesic isn't expecting much more, if any, new mining IPOs to be filed before the end of the year.

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"We're getting into the time of the year where it's difficult to price and finance an offering, especially if it's cross-border," he said.

In an ideal world, you don't want to be marketing an IPO around the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, he says. Same thing for the Christmas season, but he expects momentum to pick up again for mining IPOs in the New Year.

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