Japan's Mitsui wants more of Chile's Collahuasi copper mine, but none of Los Pelambres

Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. is increasing its stake in Chile’s Collahuasi copper mine, also owned by Anglo American and Glencore (44% each), but has decided to sell its 1.25% stake in the Los Pelambres mine, Antofagasta’s (LON:ANTO) flagship asset.

Mitsui has agreed to acquire JX Nippon Mining & Metals’ 3.6% interest in Collahuasi, which takes its total stake in the mine to 11.03% and, according to the firm, would boost its overall annual copper volumes by about 15,000 tonnes to 140,000 tonnes.

Mitsui’s investments in Chile’s copper industry date back to the 1990s and it now has minority interests in a number of the country’s leading deposits.

The Tokyo-based company will sell its 1.25 % stake in Los Pelambres, which acquired in 1997, to JX Metals and trading company Marubeni Corp., in the proportion of 0.79% and 0.46%, respectively. Mitsui attributed the move to its ongoing “strategic asset recycling”.

JX Metals’ holding in Los Pelambres will rise to 15.8% from 15%, and Marubeni’s stake will rise to 9.2% from 8.8%.

"Copper is a key metal for industrial use," Mitsui's President and CEO Tatsuo Yasunaga said in the statement. "World demand is expected to increase steadily over the medium- to long-term future, in line with infrastructure investment in emerging countries."

Mitsui’s investments in Chile’s copper industry date back to the 1990s and it now has minority interests in a number of the country’s leading deposits, including Los Bronces, Caserones and smaller El Soldado.

It’s also involved in other copper-related projects in the country, the world’s largest producer of the red metal.

It recently agreed to build a desalination plant for BHP’s (ASX, NYSE:BHP) Spence copper mine, which is of a $2.5 billion mine expansion approved last year and which will add another 50 years to the operation’s productive life.