Glencore Plc boss Gary Nagle said his company is the cheapest way to buy exposure to a coming copper boom as he predicted a renewed spree of dealmaking in the mining industry.
The mining industry had largely turned its back on big-ticket deals after a series of disastrous transactions at the height of the last commodity boom, but a looming shortage of metal needed for the green energy transition is likely to drive a new wave of consolidation, Nagle said in an interview last week.
Larger rivals BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group have already made billion-dollar moves to grow in copper in the past year, and Bloomberg reported in January that the appetite for large mergers and acquisitions has returned across the mining industry. Glencore is one of the world’s biggest producers of copper, as well as cobalt and nickel that are used in electric vehicle batteries, although it also has a large and very profitable coal business.
“If somebody wants to buy copper, we are the cheapest copper business there is in the world today, in my opinion, with a million tons of copper already,” said Nagle.
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Still, mega mergers aren’t the only option when it comes to dealmaking, Nagle said. One obvious way to boost production and lower costs could be by combining large mines that are located next to each other but owned by different companies, he said.
The CEO highlighted the company’s nickel operations in Sudbury, Canada, which neighbor similar mines run by Brazil’s Vale SA, and Glencore’s Collahuasi copper project — which it owns with Anglo American Plc — that is near Teck Resources Ltd.’s Quebrada Blanca in Chile. He also said there are potential synergies between iron mines in Brazil and Australia.
“There’s a lot of value to be created rather than just simply going out and buying another company,” Nagle said.
Glencore has had discussions with rival CEOs about opportunities around its own mines and sees the potential for deals to get done, he said.
“The shortage of critical minerals is becoming abundant to everybody,” Nagle said. “I believe companies will move now towards doing more M&A.”
(By Thomas Biesheuvel and Will Kennedy)