Zambia sees deal with Glencore over Mopani within a month

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Getty Images

Zambia expects to conclude talks over buying Glencore's stake in Mopani Copper Mines within a month, according to Barnaby Mulenga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines.

Mulenga declined to disclose the size of the stake that state-owned ZCCM Investments Holdings is trying to acquire. ZCCM-IH currently has 10% of Mopani, with Glencore holding 73.1% and Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals 16.9%.

Zambia wants to raise its holding after clashing with Glencore earlier this year over the company’s plan to mothball Mopani’s operations. But it’s unclear how the cash-strapped government, which last week defaulted on a Eurobond interest payment, would finance a deal. While impairments of $1.14 billion at Mopani contributed to Glencore posting a first-half loss, the Switzerland-based commodity giant still assigned a value of $704 million to the operations.

Mulenga expects a deal to be announced in the coming weeks by Mines Minister Richard Musukwa, who said in September that both companies were prepared to sell their entire holding in Mopani. Zambia won’t have trouble raising finance for the deal, according to Mulenga, even though no money will come from the Treasury.

“The resource attracts money, so the issue of financing is the least of the worries for the Zambian government,” Mulenga said in an interview on Thursday, referring to Mopani’s copper-mining operations. He didn’t give further details.

A spokesman for Glencore declined to comment. First Quantum spokesman John Gladston also declined to comment.

Mining Disputes

Glencore shelved its plans to place the operations under care and maintenance for 90 days, after Zambia threatened to revoke its mining license in April. The government strategy is driven by a need to safeguard jobs at Mopani, rather than any desire to raise its shareholding, said Mulenga.

Zambia’s increasingly tense relations with investors in the key copper-mining industry may partly reflect maneuvering by President Edgar Lungu ahead of next year’s elections. The government is also in arbitration over mining assets it seized last year from billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources.

Other copper miners have halted $2 billion of planned investments because of a dispute over a royalty tax. A mining conference later this year will seek to address that issue, Mulenga said.

Zambia, Africa’s No. 2 copper producer, relies on the metal for about 70% of its export earnings. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is forecast to cut output this year to about 764,188 tons, far short of the nation’s target of 1 million tons, according to Zambia Chamber of Mines.

“Hopefully we will come to some consensus to what should this tax regime look like,” Mulenga said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
ZAR/USD
15.25
(-0.09)
ZAR/GBP
20.29
(-0.13)
ZAR/EUR
18.23
(-0.10)
ZAR/AUD
11.25
(-0.23)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-0.04)
Gold
1787.51
(+0.09)
Silver
22.67
(+0.11)
Platinum
965.22
(+0.30)
Brent Crude
48.27
(+0.96)
Palladium
2413.01
(+0.60)
All Share
57822.50
(-0.17)
Top 40
53021.58
(-0.12)
Financial 15
11577.71
(-0.58)
Industrial 25
79894.95
(-0.12)
Resource 10
52804.55
(+0.03)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, and I've gotten it.
22% - 348 votes
No, I did not.
51% - 821 votes
My landlord refused
28% - 448 votes
Vote