Biden Administration Seeks Investors for Zambian Copper Mines Amid Global Demand Surge

Biden Administration Seeks Investors for Zambian Copper Mines Amid Global Demand Surge

Amidst a financial crunch faced by one of the world’s leading copper producers, the Biden administration is engaging potential investors to take a stake in First Quantum Minerals’ Zambian mines, valued at up to $3 billion. This initiative aims to prevent Chinese control over these crucial assets and secure the global supply of essential metals and minerals.

The search for investors extends beyond American companies, attracting interest from entities in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Saudi Arabia—countries considered friendly to U.S. interests. The effort to attract investment is part of a broader global race to secure copper, vital for electric vehicles, transmission lines, and data centers that support AI advancements.

BHP Group’s recent record $43 billion takeover bid for Anglo American, which was rejected, underscores the intense demand for copper. While Anglo American produces a variety of commodities, BHP has made it clear that it highly values Anglo’s copper assets. Anglo American rejected BHP’s initial offer and other companies are believed to be considering rival bids.

On Tuesday, Anglo American announced a strategic turnaround plan to exit its platinum, diamond, and steelmaking coal businesses, focusing more on its copper assets. CEO Duncan Wanblad highlighted plans to expand the company’s copper business both organically and through potential mergers and acquisitions.

While the U.S. government does not have direct oversight over the proposed deals, officials have communicated their concerns to Anglo executives about potential consolidation limiting the overall copper supply. There is also concern that China could pressure BHP to sell assets or agree to sell more copper to China to address anticompetitive concerns.

For the U.S., this situation emphasizes the importance of securing a stable supply of metals and minerals critical to the green-energy transition. Demand for copper is expected to rise as some mines close, and copper futures have already increased by 20% this year.

The U.S. lacks a ministry for mining, a sovereign wealth fund, or a substantial domestic mining industry, putting it at a disadvantage compared to China, which can direct state-owned enterprises to invest regardless of commodity price fluctuations. Consequently, the U.S. government must collaborate with private companies and friendly nations with sovereign wealth funds to invest in assets that align with national security interests. icon

    Subscribe to the most timely news about the metals market

    Metals Wire's weekly digest for mining and processing industry professionals, investors, analysts, journalists.