BHP seeks to tighten grip on South America’s copper sector

The Filo del Sol project straddles the international border between Chile and Argentina and entails one of the biggest junior exploration success stories in the the year to date. (Image courtesy of Filo Mining.)

BHP (ASX: BHP), the world’s largest miner, is hoping to expand its investments in Argentina’s copper sector, where it already has a presence through its 5% stake Canada’s Filo Mining (TSX: FIL), the junior developing the Filo del Sol copper-gold-silver project straddling the border with Chile.

Company representatives met with the San Juan’s governor on Tuesday to discuss possible investments in the minerals-rich province, which is recognized a safe mining destination due to the support to mining activities by both authorities and locals.

“We are focused on growing in America and, from that point of view, San Juan presents a great attraction in opportunities,” BHP’s VP Corporate Affairs Minerals Americas, René Muga, said during a meeting with San Juan governor Sergio Uñac.

Like most major miners, BHP has been increasing its exposure to copper, a metal key for the world’s clean energy transition and in which demand is expected to jump by almost 60% over the next two decades.

Last month, the mining giant received approval from Brazilian regulators acquisition of Australian copper-gold producer OZ Minerals (ASX: OZL).

If successful, the transaction would become the largest mining deal in Australia since BHP’s $12.1 billion purchase of Petrohawk Energy in 2011 and it would consolidate the company’s position as one of the world’s largest producers of copper.

OZ Minerals’ interests include the giant Carajás East and West mining complexes in Northern Brazil, which include the Antas, Pedro Blanca and Santa Lúcia copper-gold projects. It also has CentroGold, one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in Brazil.

In Peru, BHP owns the giant Antamina copper-zinc mine as well as Escondida in Chile, which is the biggest copper mine in the world.

**An earlier version of this story stated that BHP had a 9.9% stake in Filo Mining. It currently has 5%, but based on an agreement inked in Feb. 2022, BHP has top-up participation rights, which only apply to ownership up to 9.9%. There are no limitations from the agreement on what ownership they could get to. We regret the error.