SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A consortium made up of Mitsui & Co and Grupo Cobra is in exclusive talks with BHP Billiton Plc to build an $800 million desalination plant at its Spence copper mine in Chile, two sources with knowledge of the process told Reuters this week.
This means BHP, the world’s biggest mining house, is advancing the contracting process for a planned $2.5 billion expansion at Spence, a project that has been on ice for years.
A number of other companies bid on constructing the plant, including a consortium of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management and Spain’s Acciona, but BHP has selected the Mitsui group to go ahead with bilateral negotiations, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the matter is private.
Japanese trading company Mitsui and BHP declined to comment, while Acciona, Brookfield, and Cobra, a subsidiary of Spain’s ACS, did not respond to requests for comment.
Mining companies in copper powerhouse Chile have begun to look into reactivating investments in recent months on supply shortages and solid Chinese demand.
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