Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. is increasing its stake in Chile’s Collahuasi copper mine, also owned by Anglo American and Glencore (44% each), but has decided to sell its 1.25% stake in the Los Pelambres mine, Antofagasta’s (LON:ANTO) flagship asset.
Mitsui has agreed to acquire JX Nippon Mining & Metals’ 3.6% interest in Collahuasi, which takes its total stake in the mine to 11.03% and, according to the firm, would boost its overall annual copper volumes by about 15,000 tonnes to 140,000 tonnes.
The Tokyo-based company will sell its 1.25 % stake in Los Pelambres, which acquired in 1997, to JX Metals and trading company Marubeni Corp., in the proportion of 0.79% and 0.46%, respectively. Mitsui attributed the move to its ongoing “strategic asset recycling”.
JX Metals’ holding in Los Pelambres will rise to 15.8% from 15%, and Marubeni’s stake will rise to 9.2% from 8.8%.
“Copper is a key metal for industrial use,” Mitsui’s President and CEO Tatsuo Yasunaga said in the statement. “World demand is expected to increase steadily over the medium- to long-term future, in line with infrastructure investment in emerging countries.”
Mitsui’s investments in Chile’s copper industry date back to the 1990s and it now has minority interests in a number of the country’s leading deposits, including Los Bronces, Caserones and smaller El Soldado.
It’s also involved in other copper-related projects in the country, the world’s largest producer of the red metal.
It recently agreed to build a desalination plant for BHP’s (ASX, NYSE:BHP) Spence copper mine, which is of a $2.5 billion mine expansion approved last year and which will add another 50 years to the operation’s productive life.