Freeport-McMoRan announced on May 9 it has entered into an agreement to sell its interests in TF Holdings Ltd. to China Molybdenum for $2.65 billion in cash and contingent consideration of up to $120 million, consisting of $60 million if the average copper price exceeds $3.50/lb and $60 million if the average cobalt price exceeds $20/lb, both during the 24-month period between 2018 and 2019. TF Holdings is a Bermuda holding company that indirectly owns an 80% interest in Tenke Fungurume Mining. Freeport has a 70% interest in TF Holdings, giving it an effective 56% interest in Tenke.
Tenke Fungurume is an open-pit copper-cobalt mining and processing operation in Katanga province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Lundin Mining has a 24% effective interest in the operation, and the DRC state mining firm, Gecamines, has a 20% interest.
Freeport’s agreement with China Molybdenum is subject to Lundin Mining’s right of first offer, which will be open until August 8. Lundin said it was reviewing its options regarding the right.
Tenke Fungurume produces copper cathodes and cobalt hydroxide. In 2015, it produced 449 million lb of copper and 36 million lb of contained cobalt. Plant feed averaged 14,900 mt/d at a grade of 4% copper and 0.43% cobalt.
As of December 31, Tenke Fungurume had consolidated recoverable reserves totaling 7.2 billion lb of copper and 874 million lb of cobalt.
In addition to the Tenke Fungurume transaction, Freeport has agreed to negotiate with China Molybdenum regarding possible sale of its interests in Freeport Cobalt, including the Kokkola cobalt refinery in Finland, for $100 million and the Kisanfu exploration project in the DRC for $50 million. Kisanfu is a copper and cobalt exploration project located near Tenke in which Freeport holds a 100% interest.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016.
China Molybdenum is listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges and is primarily engaged in the mining, smelting, and downstream processing of tungsten and molybdenum and export of molybdenum, tungsten, and chemical products. The company also has copper and gold mining interests, including an 80% interest in the Northparkes copper and gold mine in New South Wales, Australia.
Twelve days after the announcement of the Freeport/China Molybdenum transaction, there was an announcement on April 28 that China Molybdenum agreed to purchase Anglo American’s niobium and phosphates businesses in Brazil (See Latin American regional news in this issue of E&MJ).