Mercator Minerals Ltd. (ML), which mines copper in Arizona, is considering options including the sale of a minority stake of about 25 percent in its El Pilar project in Mexico to a partner that would help fund the mine’s development.

There are financial partners, including Asian trading companies, that have access to low-cost financing, Chief Executive Officer Bruce McLeod said yesterday in an interview at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto. A partner could take a minority interest in the asset and also help to fund the project’s debt, he said.

“We are having discussions with several parties along those lines,” he said.

The El Pilar mine will require an estimated $280 million, including working capital, and Mercator has all the permits it needs to start construction, McLeod said.

Mercator produces copper from the Mineral Park mine in Arizona. The company has forecast 2013 output of 41.5 million to 46.5 million pounds of copper, 11 million to 12 million pounds of molybdenum and 620,000 to 690,000 ounces of silver.

Mercator fell 3.8 percent to 39 Canadian cents at 10:10 a.m. in Toronto. The shares have dropped 76 percent in the past year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Liezel Hill in Toronto at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at [email protected]