Eurasian Resources Group Sarl, the mining firm backed by the Kazakhstan government, is exploring options for assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo including a potential sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co. is among companies interested in the assets, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Deliberations are at an early stage, and ERG could decide against a sale, they said.
Bidders could value the company’s assets at $3 billion to $4 billion while the seller may be seeking $7 billion to $8 billion, the people said. Valuing the assets is difficult because of political risks in the region and volatile metal prices, among other reasons, they said.
A representative for ERG declined to comment. China Nonferrous couldn’t be reached for comment.
ERG, which mines copper and cobalt in DRC, has been reviewing its investments and has already sold assets valued at about $1 billion, according to its website. The company is a major producer of cobalt, a material used in rechargeable batteries powering iPhones and Tesla cars, though it’s had to grapple with a supply glut and declining prices. Congo produced 72% of the world’s supply of cobalt last year.
The firm is also developing large-scale investment projects in Central Asia and Africa with the Chinese government as part of the New Silk Road initiative, according to its website.
China Nonferrous operates in more than 80 countries and regions globally. It produces so-called nonferrous metals, which contain little or no iron, such as copper, lead and gold. The company also invests in mining projects in Zambia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand and DRC, according to its website.
(By Carol Zhong, Vinicy Chan and Dinesh Nair, with assistance from William Clowes and Elena Mazneva)