OZ Minerals gives green light to $1.1 billion copper project

OZ Minerals West Musgrave Project (Image: Oz Minerals)

OZ Minerals Ltd., the target of a takeover attempt by BHP Group Ltd., has approved a A$1.7 billion ($1.1 billion) investment to develop its West Musgrave copper-nickel project in Western Australia.

All key regulatory approvals for the project are now in place, and OZ Minerals’ lenders have provided a new A$1.2 billion, 18-month syndicated facility to help develop West Musgrave, the Sydney-listed company said in a statement Friday. The final funding mix may include potential to sell a minority interest in the project to a strategic partner, it added.

“Investment approval for West Musgrave unlocks one of the largest undeveloped nickel projects in the world,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cole said in the statement. “It is set to generate about A$9.8 billion undiscounted cashflow over its 24-year operating life.”

The approval comes a week after people familiar with the matter said OZ Minerals was seeking about A$10 billion in a potential sale to BHP, after the miner knocked back a smaller takeover bid from the giant in August.

BHP is seeking growth in commodities tied to trends including low-emissions transport and clean energy — particularly copper for renewables and nickel for lithium-ion batteries.

The potential for a strategic alliance for West Musgrave follows expressions of interest from parties with a strategic interest in modern minerals over the past six months, OZ Minerals said. It added it’s currently engaged with a number of parties to assess its approach to this option.

(By Jason Scott)

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