Freeport in talks to buy Arizona copper smelter

Asarco smelter in El Paso , Texas. Credit: Wikipedia

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. is in talks about buying an Arizona copper smelter from Grupo Mexico SAB as the US mining giant seeks to increase its domestic processing capacity, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives from Phoenix-based Freeport recently toured the Hayden smelter — owned by Grupo Mexico unit Asarco — to appraise the operation, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private and may not lead to a deal.

Freeport operates seven copper mines in the US including five in Arizona and is increasing operating rates in the country. An additional smelter would enable more refined production for the company at a time when domestic demand for the wiring metal is expected to grow and as the US looks to boost critical mineral supply chains.

Grupo Mexico and Freeport both declined to comment.

(By Archie Hunter and James Attwood)

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