There’s a mining fire sale going on around the world.
America’s largest mining company, Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), said Tuesday it plans to sell some of its coveted mines — likely at bargain basement prices. It joins other global mining giants Glencore (GLCNF) and Anglo American (AAUKF), which last year began a mad scramble to raise cash to pay down debt.
Glencore and Anglo American have already started selling copper and coal mines located in Australia, Chile and South Africa. Freeport hasn’t named the mines it could sell.
But how the tables have turned. Just two years ago, business was booming and things were so good that the coal and gold miner Freeport shelled out nearly $9 billion — mostly in debt — to purchase two oil and natural gas companies.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. Copper and oil prices have since cratered to crisis levels and Freeport is trying to quiet bankruptcy fears even as it drowns in $20 billion of debt.
“If they don’t undertake asset sales to reduce debt … the company could end up owned by its creditors,” said Daniel Rohr, a Morningstar analyst.
Glencore, the Swiss-based mining and trading conglomerate, had to do the same thing last fall. And British giant Anglo American, which owns diamond company De Beers, announced plans in December to shed about 85,000 jobs and sell off 60% of its assets over the next few years.
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