World’s Biggest Miners Want More Copper But Nobody’s Selling – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – July 17, 2018)

It’s the mining world’s biggest dilemma: everyone’s hunting for copper deals, but even the richest producers just can’t pull the trigger.

The largest miners all say they’re bullish on copper and looking for growth in the metal that’s forecast to be in ever-greater demand as cities expand and electric vehicles gain traction.

The industry has deep pockets for deals right now — Rio Tinto Group may end the year having raised $8.5 billion from asset sales and rivals like BHP Billiton Ltd. and Glencore Plc are churning out massive profits.

So what’s the problem? For a start, nobody who owns a copper mine wants to give it up. Even when Glencore and Anglo American Plc were crippled by debt during the 2015 commodity slump, neither was willing to entertain an offer from Rio for their holdings in the giant Collahuasi deposit in Chile, according to people familiar with those talks, who asked not to be identified.

When it comes to listed companies, there aren’t that many options — U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd. are among the only copper-focused producers of any real size.

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