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ECONOMY | 29-03-2023 12:07

Lundin weighs strategic partner for copper project in Argentina

Lundin Mining Corp is in talks with prospective partners for a copper deposit in Argentina as the industry battles to meet demand for the wiring metal in the shift away from fossil fuels.

Lundin Mining Corp is in talks with prospective partners for a copper deposit in Argentina as the industry battles to meet demand for the wiring metal in the shift away from fossil fuels.

As it seeks financing for the Josemaría project in San Juan Province, Lundin could sell a majority stake to a senior mining company or a minority stake to a Japanese trading house, Chief Executive Officer Peter Rockandel said in an interview Tuesday. The Canadian firm is also discussing a streaming deal similar to those at other Lundin mines in South America, he said.

If Lundin strikes a deal with another mining company, “it’s probably a higher likelihood that they would want to be in a controlling position,” Rockandel said earlier Tuesday on a conference call convened to discuss an acquisition in Chile. 

Large mining companies are scouring for copper assets as demand for so-called battery metals accelerates in the clean energy transition. BHP Group, Río Tinto Group and Glencore Plc are actively looking to grow their copper exposure, while gold majors like Barrick Gold Corp have indicated an interest in adding more copper to the mix. 

Lundin’s US$950-million purchase of a majority stake in a Chilean copper mine gives the company more time to decide how to move forward on Josemaría, Rockandel said in the interview. 

“People will appreciate that this acquisition does immediately enhance our free-cash flow, which will be beneficial to us long term,” he said. “This will at least afford us the time to further the studies at Josemaría and make the appropriate decision at the appropriate time.”

Lundin acquired Josemaría for US$483 million in 2021 and projects an annual average output of 130,000 metric tons over the project’s 19-year mine life. It’s expected to start operating in 2026.

Rockandel did not specify a time-line for a financing deal. 

by Jacob Lorinc, Bloomberg

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