Freeport pours cold water on Barrick Grasberg tie-up

Grasberg mine, Indonesia. Credit: Freeport McMoran

Freeport McMoRan (FCX:NYSE) is not interested in pulling the trigger on a deal for its Grasberg copper-gold mine in Indonesia, president and chief executive Richard Adkerson said on Monday, tamping down speculation of a tie-up with Barrick Gold (TSE: ABX).

“Now’s just not the time for Freeport to think about doing a big strategic move,” Adkerson said at the BMO Global Metals and Mining Conference in Hollywood, Florida.

Barrick chief executive Mark Bristow has said the world’s No. 2 gold miner is eager to deepen its exposure to copper and has said he sees no competition in pursuit of a deal for Freeport’s flagship Grasberg mine.

Grasberg ranks as the world’s second-largest copper mine and the largest gold mine

Grasberg ranks as the world’s second-largest copper mine and the largest gold mine and would enable Barrick to take advantage of demand for copper in the electric vehicle industry.

Bristow on Monday said Barrick has capacity for M&A but demurred when asked directly about his interest in a deal for Grasberg.

“My point is that copper is an inevitable part of gold mining in the future,” he said during Barrick’s presentation.

“You can interpret that whichever way you want,” he added.

Freeport could revisit M&A in two to three years as copper prices improve and the miner’s production outlook establishes, Adkerson said.

(By Jeff Lewis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)

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