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Codelco now seeks ‘forced enforcement’ of Sur option, compensation from ‘erratic’ Anglos

Chile’s state-owned copper giant on Tuesday turned the screws further on Anglo-American in its bitter fight over a 49% stake in Anglo-American Sur, one of the world’s richest copper deposits.

AFP reports according to a statement Codelco is seeking “the forced enforcement of the contract” through the immediate purchase of the shares in terms of an option first granted in 1978 and compensation for breach of contract.

Platts quotes Codelco CEO Diego Hernandez:

“This is the only possible path when the counterparty acts erratically and breaches the contracts. I had never expected something like this from a world-class company.”

In November Anglo American sold a 24.5% stake in its southern Chilean properties to Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. for $5.39 billion, undermining plans by Codelco to exercise the option which can be exercised every three years in January.

Chile decided at the end of October, barely a week after Anglo American announced that the $2.8 billion they splashed on expanding their flagship Los Bronces mine will start to bear fruit before year end, to exercise the 34-year old option that has lapsed before, blindsiding Anglo.

Platts reports in December, an attempt by Codelco to force Mitsubishi to hand over particulars of the deal collapsed and on January 2, Codelco formally informed Anglo American that it was exercising the option.

Anglo said the Mitsubishi transaction values its Chile properties at $22 billion. Codelco was offering $6 billion for 50%. Over and above the lowball offer from Codelco, what must really gall Anglo is that they would have had to pay around $1 billion in taxes on the transaction. Copper accounts for roughly a third of Anglo’s profits.