Freeport-McMoRan remains focused on Grasberg expansion

September 16, 2020

For a few months, Barrick Gold Corp. has said that it is interested in expanding into copper through the acquisition off all, or part of Freeport-McMoRan, especially, the Grasberg Mine in Indonesia, the world’s largest copper mine.

It would be a massive merger of mining companies, however, Freeport-McMoRan’s chief financial officer, Kathleen Quirk dismissed the rumors and said Freeport is focused on its expansion plans for Grasberg and does not want to be distracted by any buyout offers.

Reuters reported that no official offer has been made, and Freeport-McMoRan Chief Executive Richard Adkerson has said he has no interest in any sale.

Freeport is nearing the completion of a $15 billion project to expand Grasberg in what will be the largest underground mine ever developed, an expansion that is expected to significantly boost cash flow. Freeport is also building a copper smelter in Indonesia.

“We want to see our shareholders get the value from this plan as opposed to other shareholders getting the value,” Quirk told the Morgan Stanley 8th Annual Laguna Conference, which was webcast.

Roughly 70 percent of the Grasberg expansion project should be done by the end of the year, and 90 percent by the middle of 2021, she said.

Freeport’s stock has nearly tripled since hitting a low in March, and many analysts expect it to climb higher still. Copper prices have gained 11 percent since January, driven in part by rising demand from the electric vehicle industry.

Given that, Quirk and Adkerson have repeatedly said they do not feel now is the right time for a sale.

“We don’t really want to be distracted by M&A,” Quirk said. “We want to execute this plan. We believe that this plan will deliver exceptional value for shareholders.”



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