Zambia has selected United Arab Emirates’ International Resources Holdings (IRH) as the new strategic equity partner in Mopani Copper Mines, the miner’s owner ZCCM-IH said late on Thursday.
IRH, which is linked to Abu Dhabi’s most valuable listed company, International Holdings Company (IHC), will invest funds into Mopani to help with short-term working capital and finance the completion of the mine development to unlock Mopani’s long-term potential as well as restructure the copper miner’s balance sheet, ZCCM said.
Mopani is currently owned by ZCCM, the Zambian government’s investment arm.
The new investor is also expected to “reset” Mopani’s existing relationship with Glencore, ZCCM said.
Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe told journalists in Lusaka on Friday that details on IRH’s investment and level of equity participation in Mopani would be provided when the negotiations are completed.
Zambia has been searching for a new investor for Mopani since it took control of the assets from Glencore in 2021 after agreeing to pay the Swiss commodities giant $1.5 billion in a deal funded by debt.
As part of the deal, Glencore retained off take rights for copper from Mopani.
The proposed partnership should enable Mopani to increase copper production to at least 200,000 metric tons per annum, ZCCM said.
Mopani requires $300 million investment to expand output over the next three years and an additional $150 million to sustain operations, ZCCM said in September.
The UAE firm is taking steps to invest in critical metals and develop a new entity that encompasses the entire metals and mining supply chain.
“The proposed investment in Mopani is the largest single investment to date by IRH and represents a key step in the development of its strategy to become a major player in the African minerals sector,” ZCCM said.
The Zambia state firm was being advised by Rothschild & Co on the Mopani sale.
Other firms that were bidding for Mopani include South Africa’s Sibanye Stillwater and China’s Zijin, Reuters reported on Oct. 10, citing a source.
(By Chris Mfula and Felix Njini; Editing by Sonali Paul, Stephen Coates and Susan Fenton)