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Invest with Sven Carlin, Ph.D.

The Long-Term Copper Investment Thesis! Over the next decade I think those that own copper related assets will do extremely well.
Import of Refined Copper Cost India USD 2.5 Billion - IFC Report

A report titled 'Economic and Social Impact of Vedanta' published by the Institute for Competitiveness has estimated that the closure of Sterlite's Copper unit in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu may have cost India around USD 2.5 billion in the form of increased import of refined copper, reports Money Control. The plant owned by Vedanta was shut down in May 2018 on government order after 13 people had been killed in police firing while protesting against the functioning of the plant, alleging massive pollution caused by it.

The report has also pointed out that the overall induced impact of the Vedanta Group stands at approximately 2.2% of the Gross Domestic Product which is close to INR 3.74 lakh crore.

The report, while estimating the cost incurred by India because of imported refined copper, took into account the Tuticorin plant's production figures from FY18 which stood at 403-kilo tonne, and used the global copper prices which presently hover around USD 6,200 to USD 6,300 per tonne.

Source : Swarajyamag com
Chinese Copper Scrap Imports in July Down by 35%

SMM reported that about 97,822 tonne of copper was imported to China in the form of copper scrap in July, the first month after restrictions on Category Six scrap imports took effect. This was down 34.92% from June and 11.14% from July 2018. China’s imports of copper scrap dropped 45.11% year on year to 127,529 tonne in July, with an average copper grade of 76.71%.

Copper scrap imports in the first seven months of 2019 contained 829,682 tonne of copper, up 12.76%, or 94,000 tonne from the same period a year earlier.


Source : SMM
Peru's Copper Output to Surge 27% by 2022 – Minister

Reuters quoted Peru Energy and Mines Minister Mr Francisco Ismodes as saying that Peru expects its copper production to grow 27% and gold output to expand 12% in the next three years by 2022. Peru is on track to produce 2.5-million tonnes of copper this year, up slightly from last year's 2.44-million tonnes. Copper production has surged 77% in the past four years.

Mr Ismodes said that "This has been our best year yet for copper production.”

Peru is the world's No.2 copper producer and sixth-largest gold producer.

Source : Reuters
Pan Pacific Sees Global Copper Shortage Shrinking in 2020

Reuters reported that Japan’s top copper smelter Pan Pacific Copper expects a global shortage in copper to be less acute next year as top consumer China’s output increases and its demand growth softens amid the prolonged US-Sino trade row. Mr Naoki Kojima, GM marketing of PPC, which is also a miner and is controlled by JXTG Holdings, told Reuters that PPC projects the global consumption and supply of refined copper to climb by 1.5% and 1.7% respectively in 2020 compared with this year. He said that “China’s demand will continue to grow next year, but at a slower pace than this year and than we had expected last year citing weaker industrial demand for the metal, widely used in power and construction. Still, Beijing’s economic stimulus, such as hefty spending in infrastructure and deregulation to bolster car purchases, will support metal demand.”

Mr Kojima expects its term premiums to China next year to come near this year’s USD 86 a tonne. The world’s top copper producer, Codelco, set its 2019 term premiums to China at USD 88 a tonne. He said that “Since the spot premium market was weaker early this year, we expect tough negotiations ahead. But with a boost from China’s stimulus in mind, we want to negotiate in a range near the current level for 2020.”

China’s new smelting capacity, meanwhile, will help bolster global output, but the shutdown of the Indian company Vedanta’s smelter and tighter concentrate supply will limit the gain, he said, forecasting a shortage of 38,000 tonnes worldwide in 2020, compared with 89,000 tonnes this year.
Source : Reuters
ZCM Annual copper production to Reach 850,000 tonnes

With consistent power supply to the mines, Zambia Chamber of Mines envisages annual copper production to go to around 850,000 metric tonnes this year. ZCM chief executive officer Sokwani Chilembo said the mining sector is poised to meet its 2019 production estimates as a result of maintained electricity supply to the mines amidst daily eight-hour countrywide load-shedding.

Mr Chilembo said if the mines were to be included in the load-shedding schedule, copper production would drop to 700, 000 tonnes this year that would have been too huge a reduction.
Source : Daily MailZCM Annual copper production to Reach 850,000 tonnes
Metal News - Published on Wed, 25 Sep 2019
Image Source:
With consistent power supply to the mines, Zambia Chamber of Mines envisages annual copper production to go to around 850,000 metric tonnes this year. ZCM chief executive officer Sokwani Chilembo said the mining sector is poised to meet its 2019 production estimates as a result of maintained electricity supply to the mines amidst daily eight-hour countrywide load-shedding.

Mr Chilembo said if the mines were to be included in the load-shedding schedule, copper production would drop to 700, 000 tonnes this year that would have been too huge a reduction.

Source : Daily Mail
First Quantum Respond to Media Report on sale of minority stake in Zambian copper assets

First Quantum Minerals Ltd is aware of speculation regarding a potential transaction involving Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd. The Company confirms that discussions regarding a potential sale of a minority interest in First Quantum’s Zambian copper assets have occurred and are continuing. No transaction has been agreed upon and there is no guarantee that a transaction will be achieved.

There has also been speculation of a takeover bid. First Quantum has not engaged in any discussions regarding a take-over bid or other change of control transaction and has no knowledge of potential take-over bids, change of control transactions or proposals.

The Company will update the market as warranted.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Indian increased Refined Copper Import in FY 20 – Care Rating

According to CARE Ratings, a demand-supply mismatch in domestic copper market will make India a net importer of refined copper in 2019-20 (FY20). India has emerged as an importer of copper ore and concentrates and imports more than 90% of our concentrate requirements due to the lack of copper mines present in the country. Imports of copper ore and concentrates fell by 44.6% during FY19 due to the lack of requirement from the Tuticorin smelter.

India used to be a net exporter of copper cathodes till FY18. Now with the closure of the Tuticorin smelter, the drop in domestic production has led to the domino effect of increasing the country's imports and decreasing its exports. India has become a net importer of refined copper after 18 years.

During FY19, exports had fallen by 87.4%, (during FY18 exports had increased by 12.3%) whereas imports increased by 131.2% (during FY18 imports had increased by 35.6%).

India imported refined copper from, Japan (71%), Congo (6%), Singapore (5%), Chile (4%), Tanzania (4%), UAE (4%) and South Africa (3%) and exported refined copper to China (75%), Taiwan (13%), Malaysia (5%), South Korea (5%) and Bangladesh (2%) during FY19. Share of exports towards China has increased, from it being 63% during FY18 to 75% during FY19 and share of imports from Japan has increased from it being 68% during FY18 to 71% during FY19.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Copper Prices Falling due to Low Industrial Activity – Australian Government

Australian Government’s Resources and Energy Quarterly September 2019 said that lower industrial activity weights on copper prices. After falling in the first half of the year, copper prices continued to show weakness in the September quarter. Reduced industrial activity in China and concerns around world economic growth weighed on prices, which reached a low of USD 5,585 a tonne at the start of September. Concerns about expanding US tariffs put further pressure on prices. The copper price averaged USD 5,858 a tonne in the September quarter. 4.0% lower year on year. Prices are expected to stabilize and turn around over the outlook period, as production constraints contribute to an ongoing deficit in world copper markets. Higher consumption, supported by stimulus spending, is expected to promote modest price growth over the outlook period, although at a slower pace than previously expected. Prices are forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 5.6% over the outlook period, to average USD 6,620 a tonne in 2021. The market outlook faces competing risks; strong consumption growth could support price increases, but the expectations and economic impacts of trade tensions pose a negative risk to copper prices.

Consumption expected to grow despite economic constraints Reduced industrial activity in China and the negative impact of US-China trade tensions has weighed on world copper consumption in recent quarters. Consumption in the first half of 2019 was 11 million tonnes, 1.5% lower than the same period in 2018 .

Copper consumption is expected to rebound and see relatively strong growth over the outlook period, although at a slower pace than previously forecast. World copper consumption is forecast to increase at an average annual rate of 2.3% over the outlook period, to reach 25 million tonnes in 2021.

This forecast is heavily dependent on the level of industrial activity in China, which accounts for around half of world refined copper consumption. Although China’s imports of refined copper hare stagnated in the first half of 2019, healthy growth in domestic consumption has remained. Government spending is expected to help maintain consumption growth, through infrastructure spending and investment in electricity generation. Expanding electric vehicle manufacturing and surging growth in renewable energy production is also expected to support further growth. Over the outlook period, China's copper consumption is forecast to grow an average 1.6% a year, to reach 13 million tonnes in 2021.

Consumption growth will also be supported by expanding markets outside of China. Countries such as India and Vietnam, which currently account for just 2.0 and 1.3% of world consumption respectively, are expected to see annual consumption growth of 5 to 7% over the outlook period.

Despite these constraints, copper production is expected to grow by 3.7% over the outlook period, to reach just under 24 million tonnes in 2021, up from 21 million tonnes in 2018. Around 1 million tonnes of new production capacity is expected to come online by the end of 2021. The largest of these is the Cobre Panama mine in Peru, which has an annual capacity of 340,000 tonnes. The mine started operations in February, and is expected to reach full capacity by the end of the year, with a potential expansion beyond the outlook period.

Voor cijfers, zie pdf.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
S&P Global Ratings forecasts USD 6000 Price for Copper

S&P Global Ratings said that demand for copper is likely to remain under pressure over the next couple of years, against the backdrop of ongoing trade tensions between the US and China. Mr Simon Redmond at S&P Global Ratings said “We’ve revised down our assumptions for copper, given demand softness in the context of faltering global economic growth. Political and trade tensions are hitting investment plans and confidence, this is in spite of likely supply deficits for copper in the coming years. Gold, on the other hand, is benefiting from both these trade uncertainties and the ‘lower for longer’ expectations for interest rates.”

S&P Global Ratings forecasts the copper price to average around USD 6,000 per tonne for the rest of 2019 and 2020, and USD 6,100 per tonne in 2021.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Chinese Copper Imports in September up by 10%

General Administration of Customs data showed that China’s of unwrought copper, including anode, refined and semi-finished copper products copper imports in September rose by 10.15% MoM to 445,000 tonnes but down 14.6% from a bumper 521,000 tonnes in September last year, which was the highest monthly total since March 2016.

Mr Yang Changhua, copper analyst with research house Antaike said that “The comparison between Shanghai and London prices provided more favourable conditions for copper imports, adding that demand for unwrought copper also increased as copper scrap supplies fell recently.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Rio Tinto Q3 Copper production Update

Rio Tinto Kennecott - Third quarter mined copper production was 2% lower than the same period of 2018, but 40% higher than the previous quarter, as mining activity moved to an area of higher grades following the low grades experienced in the second quarter. Refined copper production was lower than comparable prior periods, reflecting reduced copper concentrate availability from the previous quarter, a planned smelter shut-down in July and additional unplanned maintenance which reduced furnace online time. Rio Tinto Kennecott continues to toll and purchase third party concentrate to optimise smelter utilisation, with 11.9 thousand tonnes of concentrate received for processing in the third quarter of 2019, compared with 6.3 thousand tonnes in the third quarter of 2018. Purchased and tolled copper concentrate are excluded from reported production figures. Higher molybdenum grades were sustained in the third quarter, with production of 2.1 thousand tonnes, compared with 1.4 thousand tonnes in the same quarter in 2018.

Escondida - Third quarter mined copper production at Escondida was 4% higher than the same period of 2018, mainly due to higher concentrator throughput and an increase in recoverable copper in ore stacked for leaching.

Oyu Tolgoi - Mined copper production from the open pit in the third quarter of 2019 was 28% lower than the same period in 2018 and 27% lower than the prior quarter as mining activity moved to lower grade areas of the pit, as planned.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project - Commissioning milestones for the primary production shaft (shaft 2) remain on target for completion in October. Rope-up of the service and production hoists was completed as planned, and testing of the braking system has also been completed. Since July 2019, we have also completed key infrastructure, including the central heating plant, the shaft 2 jaw crusher system and the surface discharge conveyor.

Resolution Copper - On 9 August 2019, Rio Tinto announced that the Resolution Copper project in the US had achieved a major permitting milestone with the release of an independently prepared Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The rigorous review, conducted by the US Forest Service over a six year period, included broad public engagement.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Chinese Copper Smelters Hike TC/RC for Q4

Reuters, citing people with knowledge of the matter, reported that Chinese copper smelters have raised their fourth-quarter floor treatment and refining charges by 20% from the previous quarter. As per report, the China Smelters Purchase Team, at a meeting in Shanghai, set the treatment charge floor at USD 66 per tonne, and the refining charge floor at 6.6 cents a pound, up from USD 55 a tonne and 5.5 cents a pound in the third quarter, but still below the USD 90 a tonne and 9 cents a pound set for the fourth quarter of last year.

Copper miners pay TC/RCs to smelters to process their ore into refined metal. Higher charges indicate more abundant concentrate supply or that smelters have less need. The floor price agreed also serves as an indication of the position that smelters in China, the world’s top copper consumer, will take in negotiations on a TC/RC benchmark for 2020, used for longer-term deals.

Even as spot TC/RCs usually hike in the fourth quarter, a source at a large mining firm said he saw no fundamentals-based rationale behind the move, given recent supply disruptions and a decline in spot TC/RCs this year. He said “I don’t think they can buy a lot of tonnes of clean concentrate at that spot number.”

Source : Reuters
Copper Climbs on Chinese Property & Infrastructure Data

Copper prices rose after positive Chinese data on property and infrastructure growth, while zinc and lead hit multi-month highs as investors worried about shortages. Industrial metals prices were volatile after China’s economic growth slowed slightly more than expected to 6% YoY in the third quarter, the weakest pace in almost three decades.

Prices headed higher, though, as investors digested the data, which also showed China’s property investment grew 10.5% in the first nine months of 2019, infrastructure investment rose 4.5% and industrial output outpaced forecasts at 5.8% in September.

Mr Nicholas Snowdon, an analyst at Deutsche Bank in London said that “There was a slight re-acceleration in property new starts growth, which is quite an important signal given a lot of pessimism about the Chinese property sector. There was also a slight pickup in infrastructure investment growth, so the two key drivers of on-shore metals demand were slightly on the positive side, but they’re nothing to get too carried away about.”

A Singapore-based metals trader said China was likely to roll out further stimulus measures in sectors such as real estate and infrastructure to boost growth in the fourth quarter.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
BHP Q3 Copper Production Update

BHPB announced that its total copper production increased by 5% to 430 kilo tonne. Guidance for the 2020 financial year remains unchanged at between 1,705 and 1,820 kilo tonne. Escondida copper production decreased by one per cent to 293 kilo tonne, with record concentrator throughput of 369 kilo tonne per day in the quarter offsetting expected grade decline. Ongoing improvements in maintenance implemented as part of our Transformation agenda contributed to the higher throughput, with the rate increasing to 377 kilo tonne per day in September 2019. Guidance for the 2020 financial year remains unchanged at between 1,160 and 1,230 kilo tonne, underpinned by an expected uplift in concentrator throughput performance versus the prior year, partly offset by an approximately five per cent reduction in copper grade of concentrator feed.

Pampa Norte copper production increased by 47% to 64 kilo tonne, reflecting the impact of a fire at the electro-winning plant at Spence in the September 2018 quarter. Guidance for the 2020 financial year remains unchanged at between 230 and 250 kilo tonne, including expected grade decline of approximately 10%.

Olympic Dam copper production increased by 5% to 35 kilo tonne as a result of the prior period acid plant outage, partially offset by the impact of planned preparatory work undertaken in the September 2019 quarter related to the replacement of the refinery crane. The preparatory work is the most significant part of the project, with the physical replacement and commissioning of the refinery crane scheduled for the March 2020 quarter. Underground operations, the mill and the smelter performed to plan, enabling the build of anode stocks for processing through the refinery in the subsequent three quarters. Guidance for the 2020 financial year remains unchanged at between 180 and 205 kilo tonne.

Antamina copper production increased by two per cent to 38 kilo tonne and zinc production decreased by 33% to 20 kilo tonne, reflecting higher copper head grades and lower zinc head grades. Guidance for the 2020 financial year remains unchanged at approximately 135 kilo tonne for copper and approximately 110 kilo tonne for zinc.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Beursblik: koperproductie groeit sneller dan vraag

(ABM FN-Dow Jones) De kopermarkt zal in 2020 een overschot laten zien, omdat de productie sneller groeit dan de vraag. Dit verwacht de International Copper Study Group.

Indien deze voorspelling uitkomt, zal de druk op de koperprijzen toenemen. De prijs van koper is dit jaar tot nu toe met 1,8 procent gedaald.

De ICSG verwacht dat de productie in 2020 met 4 procent zal stijgen, terwijl de vraag maar met 1,7 procent zal toenemen. Hierdoor zal er in 2020 een overschot ontstaan van 281.000 ton koper. Dit jaar zal er nog sprake zijn van een tekort van 320.000 ton.

Door: ABM Financial News.
Redactie: +31(0)20 26 28 999

© Copyright ABM Financial News B.V. All rights reserved.
Copper Market Forecast 2019/2020 - ICSG

The International Copper Study Group met in Lisbon Portugal on 22-23 October 2019. Government delegates and industry advisors from most of the world’s leading copper producing and using countries participated to discuss key issues affecting the global copper market. In the meeting of the Statistical Committee, the ICSG view of the world balance of refined copper production and use was developed.

After an increase of 2.5% in 2018, world mine production, adjusted for historical disruption factors, is expected to decline by about 0.5% in 2019 and then to grow by around 2% in 2020
World mine production increased by 2.5% in 2018 mainly due an unusually low rate of overall supply disruptions
However, this year production has been significantly constrained by unforeseen disruptions in Africa and an anticipated sharp decline in output in Indonesia as the transition of the country’s major two mines to different ore zones has resulted in temporarily reduced output levels.
The Group’s forecast for African mine and refined production is significantly lower than its April forecast as a consequence of recent announcements regarding suspensions at SX-EW mines, reductions in planned production and temporary smelter shutdowns.
In addition, production growth in some major producing countries including Chile, the United States and Peru has been limited by declining ore grades and other disruptions.
Increased production from new mine projects including Cobre de Panama in Panama, the Toquepala expansion in Peru as well as rises resulting from a recovery from constrained output in 2018 will only partially offset the aforementioned declines.
In 2020, additional supply, mainly resulting from the ramp-up of recently commissioned mines together with a recovery in Indonesian output and improved production in Africa should support growth of about 2% (adjusted for possible supply disruptions)
In 2021, growth may be above 2% but will depend on currently committed projects starting on schedule.

World refined production is expected to increase by about 0.5% in 2019 and around 4% in 2020 respectively:
In 2019, global refined copper production growth has been significantly constrained by an unusually high number of smelter disruptions and temporary shutdowns for technical upgrades/modernizations. This has resulted in significant declines in planned output in Chile, the DRC and Zambia as well as reductions in the EU, Japan, India and the United States. The reductions in the DRC have been at SX-EW mines and therefore have had a direct negative impact on refined production (electrowinning).
Continued expanded refinery capacity in China, and to a lesser extend the recovery from 2018 operational issues/maintenance at smelters in Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Poland will more than offset declines in other countries, with world refined production expected to grow by a modest 0.5% in 2019. On an ex-China’s basis, world refined production is expected to decline by 2.5%.
A rise of around 4% is expected in world refined production in 2020 based on capacity expansion in China, improvements in Africa and a return to full capacity of numerous smelters/refineries affected by operational issues this year.
The 4% growth expected for 2020 is higher than that put forward by the Group in April. This is mainly due to the fact that planned electrolytic refined production is not expected to be limited by tightness in the availability of concentrates as much as previously anticipated.
After a small decline in 2018, world secondary production from scrap is expected to rise by a small amount in both 2019 and 2020.
World apparent refined usage is expected to increase by around 0.3% in 2019 and about 1.7% in 2020:
Sustained growth in copper demand is expected to continue because copper is essential to economic activity and even more so to the modern technological society. Infrastructure development in major countries such as China and India and the global trend towards cleaner energy will continue to support copper demand. However, a slowdown in world economic growth is expected to have an adverse impact on world refined copper usage growth in 2019 and 2020.
In 2019, world refined usage has been impacted by lower than expected growth in Chinese demand and by a significant decline in EU usage
Although underlying “real” demand growth in China is estimated by some analysts to be around 1.5% in 2019, Chinese apparent demand is predicted to rise by only 1% as it has been impacted by a decline in net refined copper imports. In 2020, growth of around 1% is forecast for both apparent and real usage
EU usage is significantly lower than previously anticipated due to a weaker economic environment negatively affecting different end- use sectors combined with the dampening effect on cathode demand of good scrap availability. Recovery of 1.5% is expected in 2020.
The outlook for Japan remains sluggish and demand in the United States continues to rise this year but levelling off in 2020.

World refined copper balance projections indicate a deficit of about 320,000 t in 2019 and a surplus of about 280,000t for 2020:
ICSG recognizes that global market balances can vary from those projected owing to numerous factors that could alter projections for both production and usage namely the current US-China trade issues, strength of the global economy especially the Chinese. In this context it can be noted that actual market balance outcomes have on recent occasions deviated from ICSG market balance forecasts due to unforeseen developments.
In developing its global market balance, ICSG uses an apparent demand calculation for China that does not take into account changes in unreported stocks [State Reserve Bureau (SRB), producer, consumer, merchant/trader, bonded]. Apparent copper demand for China is based only on reported data (production + net trade +/- SHFE stock changes) and does not take into account changes in unreported stocks [State Reserve Bureau (SRB), producer, consumer and merchant/trader], which can be significant during periods of stocking or de-stocking and which can markedly alter global supply-demand balances.
Market developments since ICSG April forecast have led to revisions in predictions for supply and demand and therefore in the market balance. Current ICSG projections are for a deficit of about 320,000 metric tonnes (t) in 2019, compared to a deficit of 190,000 t foreseen at its April 2019 meeting. For 2020, the Group now forecasts a surplus of 280,000 t compared to the deficit of 250,000 t put forward at its April meeting.

Voor cijfers, zie pdf.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Copper Exports from Ecuador to Start Soon

Reuters reported that Ecuador plans to ship its first large copper cargo within weeks, a milestone in its ambitions to evolve from exploration hotspot to copper exporter. Vice Minister of Mines Mr Fernando Benalcazar told Reuters “The company has resumed normal operations and was readying its first shipment for next month. Initially we planned to have it done by the end of this month. They have already stockpiled 30,000 tonnes. It will be the first time we have a larger scale exportation going out.”

The El Mirador copper mine, owned by a unit of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan, started operations in July but the company imposed some restrictions in October as a precautionary measure to protect workers amid unrest over the government’s austerity plan.

Source : Reuters
Sterlite Copper Seeks Access to Maintain Tuticorin Plant

CNBC-TV18 reported that almost exactly 17 months since the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board issued directions to seal Sterlite Copper’s infamous Tuticorin plant, the company has reiterated its request to re-enter the facility for maintenance checks. The appeal from the Vedanta-owned enterprise comes even as a case against the closure is being heard in the Madras High Court. Mr Pankaj Kumar, CEO Sterlite Copper, said “While our priority is to have our case heard, conclude the hearing and then wait for the judgement from the High Court, we are working to ensure that the atmosphere is conducive for whatever order comes from the court.”

Mr Kumar added “What we are requesting the government is this: we cannot operate the plant without a consent to operate), but must be allowed access to the plant to conduct maintenance. This is only so that the presence of the plant without maintenance should not become a safety hazard, tomorrow.”

Sterlite Copper has said in the past that the presence of multiple pipelines, ducts and cooling towers at its Tuticorin plant requires frequent maintenance checks, failing which these components could suffer metallurgical decay. The resulting effect could be hazardous to residents in the vicinity of the plant itself.

Sterlite’s Tuticorin plant was sealed on May 28 2018, after the Tamil Nadu Government ordered its closure, endorsing the state’s pollution control board’s view that it was causing pollution to the district. Only a week earlier, 13 protesters demanding the plant’s closure were shot dead by state police personnel, even as these protests took a violent turn.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
De Chinezen zijn toch wel gek op servie:

BEIJING, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Zijin Mining , one of China’s biggest gold producers, said on Monday it would buy partner Freeport McMoran Inc’s copper-gold assets in Serbia for up to $390 million, substantially boosting its resources of both metals.

The move continues a recent acquisition spree for Zijin and strengthens its foothold in the Balkans, having entered Serbia when it took over local copper producer RTB Bor in 2018, before completing the purchase of Nevsun Resources, which also has interests in Serbia, for $1.4 billion this year.

Zijin will pay Freeport an initial $240 million for its stake in the lower zone of the Timok copper-gold mine, plus 0.4% of the net sales proceeds once production begins, up to an aggregate maximum amount of $150 million, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.


Zijin already has a 100% interest in the upper zone through its Nevsun acquisition and holds 60.4% of the lower zone. Freeport owns the rest of the lower zone but its holding was due to rise to 54% on completion of a feasibility study.

“After completion of the transaction, the company will own 100% interests in the resources of both the upper zone and the lower zone,” Zijin said, adding that the purchase would allow the company to increase its resources and further its internationalisation.

It said the acquisition would lift its total controlled copper resources by 7.72 million tonnes, or 15.6%, to 57.24 million tonnes on an equity basis, while its gold resources would rise by 161 tonnes, or 9.3%, to 1,889 tonnes.

Phoenix-based Freeport did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the sale outside of normal business hours.

Development of the lower zone of Timok has not yet started but Zijin said the deal would help with unified planning, construction and operation of the project. Production from the upper zone is expected to begin in 2021, it added.


Zijin will also acquire Freeport’s interests in five exploration licenses in the surrounding area, which are currently held by a Zijin-Freeport joint venture and have “favourable potential for prospecting,” the statement said.

Zijin expects the transaction to be completed no later than Feb. 29, 2020. (Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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