Forget about ‘Los Bronces’; that mine is ours — Anglo to Codelco
Embattled miner Anglo American (LON:AAL) has reiterated it won’t sell its stake in the Los Bronces and Collahuasi copper mines to Codelco or any other rivals, despite its plans to raise between $3bn and $4bn this year by offloading assets.
“We don’t need to sell them. Anglo is not in that position,” Hennie Faul, Anglo’s copper chief, told Chilean newspaper La Tercera (in Spanish). “The whole industry would be in turmoil for Anglo to have to sell its prime assets,” he added.
Faul’s comments come only a day after the company announced the sale of its Foxleigh coal mine in Australia as part of an ongoing drive to reduce debt.
Since revealing details of its radical “portfolio restructuring” in February, Anglo has been the target of mounting speculation, mainly directed at what assets the firm may sell beyond those already singled out.
Analysts believe that the company’s best two copper mines — its flagship Los Bronces, which is poised to become the world’s No. 5 copper mine at its peak, and Collahuasi, which it co-owns with Glencore and a consortium of Japanese firms — are the sort of projects larger rivals such as BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) would benefit from grabbing. Both miners, in fact, have recently said they would like to add high quality copper mines to their portfolios.
Codelco, in turn, has faced mounting pressures from unions to acquire Los Bronces, located right by one of its main mines — Andina. Currently, Anglo holds a 50.1% stake in Los Bronces, while the Chilean miner and its partner, Japan’s Mitsui & Co, have a 29.5% interest.
But copper is Anglo American’s second-largest contributor to profit after iron ore, and its Chilean division alone — dubbed Anglo American Sur — produced 437,800 tonnes of copper in 2015. The company expects to produce a total of between 600,000 and 630,000 tonnes of the red metal this year.
Anglo American Sur is made up of Los Bronces and El Soldado mines, plus the Chagres smelter.
Last year, Anglo completed the $300 million sale of its 100%-owned Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde copper mines in northern Chile and announced intentions to also sell El Soldado mine and the Chagres smelter.