SYDNEY (Reuters) – Glencore is buying Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek coal mine and the Valeria coal project in Australia for $1.7 billion, tightening the Swiss trading and mining giant’s grip on coal as its rivals exit the industry.
The acquisition, announced by both companies on Tuesday, follows Glencore’s purchase of half of Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley coal operations, also in Australia, for $1.1 billion last year in a deal with China’s Yancoal Australia Ltd.
Glencore is already the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal used for power stations, and Hail Creek will give it a bigger stake in metallurgical coal used for steelmaking.
“You’ve got one of the few big companies, in Glencore, that is both willing and able and clearly likes coal strategically and has been acquiring these assets,” said Paul Gait, an analyst at Bernstein in London.
The sale consists of Rio’s 82 percent interest in the Hail Creek operating mine and its 71.2 percent interest in the Valeria project, the company said in a statement. Rio Tinto made a strategic decision in 2017 to exit coal and focus on growth in iron ore, copper and its aluminum division.