Lundin Mining Corp. is on the lookout for copper acquisitions as some of the world’s largest miners look to streamline operations.
“The majors are clearly divesting non-core assets,” Paul Conibear, president and chief executive officer of Toronto-based Lundin said in an interview. “Out of three or four majors, there are projects we can see coming out that are ideally sized for us.”
Mr. Conibear said the company has a strong balance sheet, no debt and has been on the lookout for the right deals for the last year and a half. Assets with at least a 10-year mine life and capable of producing some 50,000 tonnes of copper per year would be ideal, he said.
While it may not be a full-on buyer’s market, Mr. Conibear said there is less competition for assets these days as other miners become gun shy in the wake of a slew of high-profile writedowns on assets acquired as commodity prices soared in recent years.
Among those with assets on the block is Rio Tinto PLC, the world’s third-largest miner, which announced $14-billion (U.S.) in asset writedowns in January as it ousted its chief executive officer. The company has put a slew of assets on the block, in sectors ranging from thermal coal to iron ore and, according to media reports last week, copper.
“When you acquire an asset from a major, you know it’s coming with good standards. It has got clean title, high environmental standards, good infrastructure … so those are attractive things to acquire,” he said, pointing to former mining giant Phelps Dodge Corp., which was famous for building its portfolio in cyclical downturns.
“We’re in no panic, but if the right opportunity comes, we’ve positioned our balance sheet and our company in terms of staffing and technical depth to be able to acquire and manage a couple of mines. So we continue to keep our eyes open and we’re ready,” Mr. Conibear said.
As of the end of its fourth quarter on Dec. 31, Lundin had a net cash position of $265.1-million. It had a credit facility of $350-million.