Rio opens books to over half-dozen possible suitors for Australia coal mines: sources – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – October 20, 2017)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto has opened its books to more than a half-dozen potential buyers of its remaining two Australian coal mines as it winds down the sales process, two people familiar with the sale process said on Friday.

The Kestrel and Hail Creek coking coal mines on the block have attracted some of Australia’s established coal miners, as well as private equity firms attracted to the positive outlook for selling metallurgical coal to Asian steel mills at robust prices, according to the people.

The mines could fetch around $2 bln, the sources said, in a sale that if successful would complete Rio’s plan to finalize its exit from the sector and focus on iron ore, copper and aluminum, where it maintains greater market share. Credit Suisse is advising Rio on the sale.

Rio this year sold its Coal & Allied mining division to Yancoal Australia for $2.69 billion, and before that its 40 percent interest in the Bengalla coal mine to New Hope Corp Ltd for $616.7 million.

Whitehaven Coal, South32 and possibly Anglo American, are among the interested parties, according to one of the people familiar with the process. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the process.

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