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Mining Week 47/’12: BHP sells diamonds; Anglo pays for iron ore

November 18, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Harry Winston buys BHP’s diamond business for $500m
    • Diamond retailer Harry Winston has decided to buy BHP Billiton’s diamond business for $500m cash. The business consists of 80% of the EKATI diamond mine in Northern Canada and sorting and marketing units.
    • Both BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto put their diamond businesses up for sale this year. Rio Tinto might be reconsidering that decision as it couldn’t secure a good price for its Diavik mine and its Indian holdings have come back with good exploration results.
    • Sources: BHP Billiton press release; Harry Winston press release; Financial Times
  • Anglo’s Minas Rio iron ore project delayed and more expensive
    • Anglo American announced that Minas Rio, its 26.5Mtpa iron ore project in Brazil, will not start producing before the second half of 2014. The delay is caused by license issues around construction of power transmission lines.
    • Anglo also announced that the total capital cost for the project is “unlikely to be less that $8.0bn”, making this the first major iron ore project which costs more than $300 per millions tonnes capacity.
    • Sources: Anglo American press release; Reuters; mining.com
  • Qatar’s support appears to seal GlenStrata deal
    • The Qatar Sovereign wealth fund has announced it will support Glencore’s offer of 3.2 shares per share for Xstrata, making it very likely that the largest mining deal of the past years will become reality. Xstrata’s shareholders get to vote on Tuesday.
    • Qatar, Xstrata’s 2nd largest shareholder after Glencore, also announced it will abstain from voting on the retention incentive package for Xstrata top management, making it very likely that this >$200m retention package will not become reality.
    • Sources: Qatar holding; Financial Times 1; Financial Times 2

Trends & Implications:

  • Anglo’s issues in Brazil demonstrate the enormous importance of getting power issues for large projects sorted out early. Last month Rio Tinto’s enormous Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia was only hinging on a power supply agreement with the Mongolian and Chinese governments. Many projects in developing countries either need to secure power supply from other countries or have to build their own power plants, forcing them to go through tremendous licensing issues and import natural resources to get their operations powered up.
  • When the Xstrata retention package is voted down, a big group of top-level executives at Xstrata can be expected to start looking for new jobs quickly, opening up a great pool of talent for other companies. The corporate cultures at Xstrata and Glencore are so different that many miners will have to adjust to the more aggressive, top-down culture of the trading house. Many of the top managers will prefer to find a good job in another mining house instead.

2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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Anglo American eyes $70bln Growth Pipeline

April 27, 2011 Comments off

“Anglo American PLC currently has in the pipeline about $70 billion worth of projects that it plans to use to drive organic growth in the years ahead, senior company executives said Thursday. Cynthia Carroll, the mining company’s chief executive, said at the company’s annual general meeting here that the growth ahead is strong with ‘a new mining operation [starting] every six to nine months for the next several years.’

The company plans to increase volume output 35% by 2013 and increase 50% by 2015. It is looking to double output by 2020 based on a growth pipeline of about $70 billion of approved and unapproved projects, senior company executives said during the meeting. The company is currently developing $17 billion in projects and is looking to approve another $16 billion in the near term. A remaining $50 billion worth of projects are still waiting to be approved.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, April 21 2011

Observations:

  • Anglo American currently has 4 major growth projects nearing production: the los Bronces copper expansion project in Chile; the Barro Alto nickel project in Brazil; the Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil; and Kolomela iron ore project in South Africa. Furthermore the company is investing heavily in Jwaneng diamond mine in Botswana. These five projects account for $13.5bln of the approved CapEx.
  • Other approved projects are mainly in platinum, with 7 projects in Southern Africa summing up to over $3bln investment. Key unapproved projects are Quellaveco and Michiquillay copper projects in Peru; Sishen iron ore expansion in South Africa; and South African New Largo and Colombian Cerrejon thermal coal projects

Implications:

  • Anglo American currently leans heavily on its copper business (29% of profits in 2010) and iron ore business (38% of profits in 2010), mainly due to high prices. Expansion plans will mainly increase the exposure to platinum, nickel and coal, ensuring strong diversification of the company’s revenue sources.
  • Anglo American’s approved CapEx of $18bln compares to Rio Tinto’s $22bln and Xstrata’s $14bln (at time of publishing 2010 annual report). Only BHP Billiton plans to invest much more in organic growth in the coming years. However, boosted by high cash reserves growth by acquisitions would again be an option for Anglo American. With the frontier of development projects shifting to Africa, the company clearly has a favorable position to make good deals with its experience in operating projects in the continent.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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