MELBOURNE/TOKYO — Japanese trading houses Itochu and Mitsui have separately bid for a stake in Anglo American’s manganese assets in Australia and SA as the diversified mining house shrinks its business to weather the commodity-price rout, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Anglo was considering the offers for its 40% holding in a manganese joint venture with South32, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Perth-based South32 had an option to buy the stake, which may fetch as much as $700m, and might pre-empt an agreement with another party, one of the people said.
Anglo is seeking to raise about $4bn from selling mines including those that produce iron ore and coal, to cut debt after commodity prices slid. The London-based company, which is focusing on assets that produce diamonds, platinum and copper, agreed last week to sell its Brazilian niobium and phosphate businesses to China Molybdenum Company for $1.5bn in cash. Spokesmen for Anglo, Itochu, Mitsui, and South32 declined to comment.
South32, which was spun off from BHP Billiton last year, said in February it would be willing to acquire Anglo’s stake in their manganese joint venture if the price was right.
South32 owns 60% of the Samancor venture and is the operator. The business, which is the world’s biggest producer of the material used in steelproduction, holds mines and smelters in SA, as well as the Gemco mining operations in Australia’s Northern Territory, and the Temco alloy plant in the nearby Tasmania.
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