Rival Chinese miners shortlisted for Glencore's Las Bambas copper mine

Two rival Chinese miners, Chinalco and MMG Ltd. —a unit of Minmetals—, are among the leading candidates to acquire Glencore Xstrata's (LON:GLEN) $6.2bn Peruvian copper mine Las Bambas, sources involved in the process told Reuters Thursday.

The companies, two of the four Chinese groups who made initial bids for the mine, have been invited back to conduct due diligence and make a second bid insiders said.

Glencore agreed to sell Las Bambas in order to meet Chinese competition regulations, following its record-breaking $44.6bn takeover of mining group Xstrata.

China, one of the world’s largest consumers of copper, imposed the conditions as it feared the merger would hand the new commodities giant too much power in copper, which has proved one of the most stable metals as of late. For this same reason, the eventual buyer of Las Bambas will need to be approved by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Peru’s mines and energy minister, Jorge Merino, said last week that Australian, Canadian and U.S. companies had also expressed interest in the project, but didn’t provide further details, reports El Comercio (in Spanish).

It's estimated that the project still needs a $5.9bn investment to be fully developed, but it is already 43% completed and production at the mine is due to start in 2015.

Image: Shangrila horse racing festival 2013 in Zhongdian, China, by Hung Chung Chih.