Rio Tinto, Manara Minerals bid for stakes in First Quantum Minerals’ Zambian copper mines

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Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest metals and mining corporation and Saudi Arabia-backed Manara Minerals Investment are reportedly bidding for stakes in First Quantum Minerals’ Zambian copper mines.

According to the media reports, the Sentinel and Kansanshi mines are drawing interest from Chinese firms, including Zijin Mining Group.

Additionally, Japanese trading houses Mitsui and Sumitomo have reportedly been evaluating these assets, suggesting a wide range of potential bidders.

However, the sale process is still in its early stages, and there is no guarantee that the interested parties will submit formal bids.

First Quantum Minerals is reportedly contemplating selling up to a 30 per cent stake in its Zambian copper mines.

It is looking for initial bids in the coming weeks, with the size of the stake sale contingent on the offers received.

The move follows the mandated closure of the company’s flagship copper mine in Panama last year due to public protests, prompting a need to restructure its operations.

For Saudi Arabia, acquiring a stake in the Zambian mines would support its strategy to diversify its economy and secure metal supplies for industrial growth.

The $2.6 billion (SR9.75 billion) investment in Vale’s base metals unit highlights the kingdom’s commitment to expanding its presence in the mining sector.

In January, First Quantum Minerals was reportedly in talks to sell a stake in its Zambian copper mines to one of its shareholders, Jiangxi Copper.

In Zambia, First Quantum owns the Sentinel mine outright and holds an 80% stake in the Kansanshi mine, with the remaining 20% owned by the Zambian government.

In the third quarter of last year, these two mines reportedly generated $943 million in revenue and $210 million in operating profit. Based on their earnings, these assets could be valued at nearly $6 billion.

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