BHP doubles stake in promising Ecuador copper project – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.K. – October 15, 2018)

MELBOURNE – (Reuters) – The world’s biggest miner BHP on Tuesday nearly doubled its stake in SolGold Plc, bolstering its position against top shareholder Newcrest Mining as it eyes SolGold’s promising Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador.

BHP, which bought in to SolGold just six weeks ago, has paid almost $60 million (£45.6 million) to increase its holding to 11.2 percent, not far off the 14.5 percent stake held by Newcrest, Australia’s biggest listed gold miner.

The mining giant has described Cascabel as a high-quality copper exploration project, while Ecuador is seen as a highly perspective region with geology similar to top copper producer Chile.

“BHP has clearly ramped-up its willingness to pursue this project,” said RBC analyst Paul Hissey in a report, adding that it was not clear how the rival holdings would be resolved.

While BHP had deeper pockets, Newcrest had technical skills linked to large scale bulk underground mining, he said.

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