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China’s MMG board grants undivided approval for $5.85bn Las Bambas buy

China's MMG board grants undivided approval for $5.85bn Las Bambas buy

China’s MMG received Monday unanimous approval from its shareholders to move forward with the $5.85 billion acquisition of Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) flagship Las Bambas copper project in Peru.

The board also approved an offtake agreement with majority shareholder China Minmetals Nonferrous Metals for about 57.31% of the mine’s copper concentrates for its lifetime signed earlier this month, Reuters reports.

The sale of Las Bambas followed Glencore and Xstrata merger, first announced February 2012. After much shareholder wrangling and jumping through regulatory hoops China was the last country to approve the deal — a full 14 months later.

There was one, pretty specific, condition. Glencore had to give up Las Bambas or something of equivalent significance for future global copper supply.

China, one of the world’s largest consumers of copper, imposed that condition because it feared the merger would hand the new commodities giant too much power in copper. Mostly though it was looking to secure a domestic-owned source for the metal as currently China only satisfies one-third of its demand.

The Swiss-based firm had already lavished $4 billion on the Peruvian mine and China took its sweet time to ink a deal.

While negotiations of the sale dragged on for another year Las Bambas was being thoroughly de-risked and readied for production by one of the more experienced teams in the global copper mining game.

The massive project, which is set to enter production next year, consists of three pits and it is expected to generate 400,000 tonnes of copper as well as significant amounts of silver, gold and molybdenum as by-product.

John Gravelle: PwC Global Mining Leader

John Gravelle: PwC Global Mining Leader

John Gravelle, PwC partner and global mining leader says the Chinese takeover of Las Bambas is a sign of things to come.

Companies further down the scale will also be impacted by the “Las Bambas effect”, Gravelle told last month.

“The size of the deal reflects Chinese belief in copper.  And China’s smaller and private mining operations take their guidance from the large state-owned enterprises,” said Gravelle.

Las Bambas sales is expected to be completed by September pending final consents. The MMG-led consortium will also reimburse what Glencore spends on building the project this year up to the point that the deal completes, which is expected to be about $1bn.

It will boost MMG’s growth prospects and put Glencore in a strong position to return capital to its shareholders.