Group paying nearly $6b for stake in copper mine

Updated: 2014-04-28 06:39

By Xie Yuin Shanghai (China Daily Latin America)

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Group paying nearly $6b for stake in copper mine
An open pit copper mine in Jiangxi province. China Minmetals Corp is expected to become one of the 10 largest in the world once a Peru project it is purchasing part of is completed. Provided to China Daily

A Chinese consortium led by the metal and mineral trader and producer China Minmetals Corp is buying part of a copper mine in Peru from merged commodities and mining group Glencore Xstrata Plc for a reported $5.85 billion.

It will be the largest Chinese purchase of an overseas mining asset since 2008, when Aluminum Corp of China took a 12-percent stake in Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto Plc for $14 billion, according to financial information firm Dealogic.

China Minmetals is expected to become the largest copper producer in China and one of the 10 largest in the world once the project is completed, according to its statement.

The deal 'definitely has great strategic significance for China as a fast-developing country with a thirst for energy resources', said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

Last year, Chinese mining and energy acquisitions abroad totaled $29.8 billion. They included China National Petroleum Corp's $4.2 billion purchase of an interest in an oilfield in Mozambique from Italy's ENI, Dealogic said.

'China has been actively seeking energy resources in the global market for five years,' Lin said.

'Copper is one of the scarcest resources in China, and I do not think it is a bad time to hammer out this deal considering that the global economy is still relatively weak, and the copper price is not high now,' Lin added.

Glencore, based in Switzerland, said in a news release in mid-April that the traded target is an interest in the Las Bambas copper mine in Peru and that payment would be in cash.

Of the consortium, 62.5 percent is owned by Hong Kong-listed MMG Ltd, the offshore arm of China Minmetals Corp; 22.5 percent is owned by Guoxin International Investment Corp Ltd; and 15 percent is owned by CITIC Metal Co Ltd.

Zhou Zhongshu, president of China Minmetals Corp, said: 'The Las Bambas project completely matches the long-term strategy of CMC and MMG. It will further improve the portfolio of CMC in terms of mining assets and have strategic coordination with the current business.'

David Lamont, executive director and CFO of MMG, said the deal 'will largely expand the company's business scale and bring long-term strategic benefits'.

The development of the Las Bambas copper mine was 66 percent achieved with an expenditure of $3.5 billion, but another $2.4 billion will need to be invested before it starts normal operations, according to Glencore, as reported by Hong Kong-based China Fortune in April.

Buying Las Bambas gives the Chinese consortium control of a mine that is forecast to produce 400,000 metric tons of copper a year starting in 2015, the equivalent to 12.5 percent of the 2013 imports of copper metal by China, the world's biggest buyer, Bloomberg said.

China imported 3.2 million tons of copper metal and 10.1 million tons of copper ore and concentrate last year, data from the country's customs authority show. Its consumption totaled 9.83 million tons in 2013, 47 percent of global demand, according to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics.

Du Juan contributed to this story.