A Chinese consortium is the front-runner to buy Glencore Xstrata Las Bambas copper mine in Peru for $5 billion or more, according to people familiar with the matter. The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal, if completed, would be one of the largest foreign acquisitions ever by a Chinese company.
A group comprised of affiliates of state-controlled outfits China Minmetals Corp., Citic Group Corp. and Guoxin Group is the only bidder left in an auction that Glencore Xstrata agreed to run to win China's approval for the merger that gave rise to its creation last year.
There is not a set timeline for the deal and there is a chance that the another player could emerge.
The massive Las Bambas project, which was about 45 percent complete as of June and is scheduled to start production in the 2015 second half, will be able to produce 450 kt/a of copper in its first five years and 300 kt/a during its remaining operating life, Glencore Xstrata has said. It is expected to cost a total of $5.9 billion to develop.
A Chinese purchase of Las Bambas would be the latest takeover deal engineered by the world's most populous nation as part of an effort to secure raw materials for its vast and growing industrial machinery. China is the world's largest consumer of copper, which is used in products ranging from cabling for electricity to cars.
Glencore Xstrata agreed to sell Las Bambas to win approval from China's Ministry of Commerce, known as Mofcom, for Glencore International PLC to acquire Xstrata PLC. The takeover, which closed in May, valued Xstrata at $44.6 billion.