Rio Tinto and China Molybdenum Co. announced on July 29, a binding agreement whereby China Molybdenum will purchase Rio Tinto’s 80% interest in the Northparkes copper-gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, for $820 million. The sale is subject to Rio Tinto’s joint-venture partners, Sumitomo Metal Mining (13.3%) and Sumitomo Corp. Mineral Resources (6.7%), waiving or failing to exercise their pre-emption rights under the terms of the Northparkes joint-venture agreement.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2013.
Northparkes is a block caving underground operation located 27 km northwest of the town of Parkes in the central west region of New South Wales. In 2012, the Northparkes concentrator processed 5.65 million mt of ore and produced a high-grade concentrate containing 54,000 mt of copper and 72,000 oz of gold. The concentrate is railed to Port Kembla, New South Wales, and then shipped to smelters in Japan and China.
Northparkes has been operating since 1993 and has a remaining life of more than 20 years.
China Molybdenum is listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges; is headquartered in Luoyang City, Henan province, China; and is China’s largest molybdenum producer, as well as a producer of tungsten and precious metals. The company is fully integrated from mining and processing to smelting, downstream processing, trade, and research and development. The company’s flagship asset is its Sandaozhuang molybdenum-tungsten mine, a 15-million-mt/y open-pit mine with a mine life of more than 30 years.
China Molybdenum’s agreement with Rio Tinto is the company’s first venture into operations outside of China.