U.S. gold miner Newmont Mining has reportedly joined Canadian miners Teck Resources, Magris Resources and equity firm Blackstone to bid for Glencore Xstrata's Las Bambas copper project in Peru. The next bidding round is pending this month; the mine’s Q4 2014 value is estimated at $6.2 billion by analysts.
One of the biggest assets in Glencore’s portfolio, Las Bambas is scheduled to produce 400,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) within five years of operation beginning in 2015, according to officials at the Swiss-based mining and commodities giant; it is forecast to produce more than 300,000 mt/y thereafter. Upon its sale, Glencore estimated it will have spent $3.3 billion on the project.
Magris, led by former Barrick CEO Aaron Regent, has approached several banks for financing, according to Reuters; Newmont CEO Gary Goldberg, for his part, has said such a strategy would allow his Colorado-based company to diversify into base metals.
But analysts believe a Chinese buyer is sure to win, given the bottomless resources of the state-backed mining companies. A group led by China Minmetals Corp., the mainland’s No. 1 metals trader, is deemed the front-runner, offering $5 billion, said Bloomberg.
China’s Aluminum Corp., or Chinalco, however, abandoned its own $5 billion group bid, reported Bloomberg, after officials rejected a Beijing government proposal to be a minority partner. Chinalco is currently developing the $3.5 billion copper project in Peru's Junín region.
Meanwhile, Chinese miner Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd. has emerged as another potential bidder. Jiangxi and Minmetals presently have a 40:60 joint venture to develop the Galeno copper-gold project in Peru’s Cajamarca region alongside Lumina Copper Corp., a Canadian miner, which has projects in Argentina.