Japan’s sole gold mine owner readies for overseas acquisitions (Bloomberg/Business Times – April 22, 2016)


[TOKYO] Sumitomo Metal Mining Co, the copper and nickel producer that also owns Japan’s only gold mine, is scouring the world for bullion deals as assets become more affordable.

The Tokyo-based company signaled its appetite for overseas expansion in February with the US$1 billion purchase of an additional stake in Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Morenci copper mine in Arizona. Now, gold is the priority, President Yoshiaki Nakazato said in an interview.

Projects under consideration include a venture with Gold Road Resources Ltd to develop the Perth-based explorer’s Gruyere assets in Western Australia, Mr Nakazato said at the company’s headquarters this week. The Japanese company is among several considering a stake in the A$455 million (S$476 million) Gruyere project, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

It’s a turnaround from last year, when Sumitomo Metal was prepared to secure deposits only under its own steam. “Last autumn I was saying we would never buy stakes in gold mines,” Mr Nakazato said. “I depended on our engineers at the resources division to find assets through our exploration endeavors.”

Gold assets are becoming more affordable and those on offer via financial intermediaries look “worth examining,” Mr Nakazato said. “There might be a chance for us to buy a stake in an existing mine or launch a new development project.”

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