Three Chinese entities are among the remaining contenders vying to acquire a Botswana copper mine potentially valued at around $2 billion, as disclosed by individuals familiar with the matter.
Zijin Mining Group Co., MMG Ltd., and Aluminium Corp. of China, also known as Chinalco, have advanced to the second round of the bidding process for the Khoemacau project, according to these sources.
MMG has engaged in discussions regarding a potential collaboration with Citic Metal Co., an affiliate of the Chinese state-owned conglomerate Citic Group, although these negotiations remain private, the sources added. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., recognized as Implats, along with South African mining company Exxaro Resources Ltd., have also made it to the shortlist, according to insiders.
London-based private equity firm GNRI, a major shareholder of Khoemacau, could select a winning bidder within the next few weeks. It is important to note that ongoing deliberations do not guarantee the culmination of a transaction.
In light of the projected surge in copper demand for electric vehicles and renewable energy, the world’s largest mining companies, including BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group, are actively seeking to expand their copper portfolios.
Khoemacau, which commenced operations in mid-2021 and has been progressively increasing its annual output to 60,000 tons, would complement the substantial copper holdings of Zijin and MMG. The mine, situated in the Kalahari copper belt extending from northwest Botswana to western Namibia, has the potential for production expansion to approximately 130,000 tons per year, according to information available on the company’s website.
When approached for comments, representatives for Citic Metal, Implats, and Khoemacau declined to provide statements. Spokespeople for Chinalco, Exxaro, GNRI, and MMG did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative for Zijin stated that they were unaware of the matter.
GNRI was established following a management buyout of Barclays Plc’s natural resources private equity business in 2015.
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