Mitsui Mining exits copper with Collahuasi stake sale

Collahuasi open-pit. (Image courtesy of Minera Collahuasi.)

Japan’s Mitsui Mining and Smelting is walking away from copper, currently one of the most coveted metals, by selling its 0.97% stake in the Collahuasi copper mine in Chile to trading house Mitsui & Co, as a part of a reshuffle of its asset portfolio.

The deal leaves Mitsui & Co with a 12% interest in the open-pit copper mine located in in northern Chile, which also owned by Anglo American and Glencore (44% each).

“Collahuasi is one of the world’s top copper mines in terms of production and reserves,” the Tokyo-based trader said in a statement. “Rising environmental awareness on a global scale over the recent years is reflected in the increase of EVs and development in renewable energy infrastructures. These trends are expected to drive increased demand for copper.”

Mitsui Mining said the company had decided to use its resources for other growing areas such as engineered materials and development of new products. It also noted it would keep its stake in zinc mines in Peru.

The sale of the Collahuasi stake comes about four months after Mitsui Mining and Mitsui & Co agreed to sell their stakes in the Caserones copper mine, also in Chile, to Japan’s JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp.

Mitsui & Co said its medium-term corporate strategy called for an evolution of its portfolio, with emphasis on boosting profitability in the core business.

“Increasing our interest in Collahuasi forms part of the business portfolio restructuring under our Management Plan 2023,” it said.

Mitsui’s investments in Chile’s copper industry date back to the 1990s and it now has minority interests in a number of the country’s leading mines, including Los Bronces and smaller El Soldado.

It’s also involved in other copper-related projects in the South American country, the world’s largest producer of the red metal.

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