By Oscar Martinez, Latin American Editor

Hudbay Minerals Inc. is in conversations to buy Mantos Copper SA, a Chilean mining company linked to former Anglo American executives, which is looking for a buyer to finance its expansion plans, according to those familiar with the matter. Mantos could get up to US$780 million in a sale, according to two people who are familiar with the situation and asked not to be named. While the talks are moving forward, they may still fail or other suppliers may emerge, they said.

Mantos Copper, backed by Audley Capital Advisors and Orion Mine Finance, has been looking for a buyer for all or part of its business to raise US$1 billion to mine for copper and gold at two of its mines in the country, north of Chile. The company, based in the coastal city of Antofagasta, is working with the Bank of Nova Scotia to evaluate the full range of strategic alternatives, according to a statement in May.

Mantos has said its Mantoverde mine will require an investment of US$780 million and will produce an average of 106,000 metric tons of copper and 33,000 ounces of gold per year. The expansion of Mantos Blancos will extend the life of the mine until 2035 and will require a capital injection of US$210 million, the company said.