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China-led group agrees to mine deal

By Du Juan (China Daily)

08:33, December 14, 2012

A consortium led by Hebei Iron and Steel Group, China's biggest steelmaker by output, has reached a binding agreement to buy a controlling stake in South Africa-based Palabora Mining Co, from international mining giant Rio Tinto plc.

According to a statement from Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest miner by market capitalization, the 57.7 percent stake will change hands for $373 million, most probably within the next four to six months.

The deal comes as Anglo American Plc also agreed to sell its 16.8 percent holding in Palabora to the consortium for around $103 million, bringing the consortium's stake in Palabora to 74.5 percent.

The consortium is composed of the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd, which accounts for 20 percent, Hebei Iron and Steel with 35 percent, and two other Chinese companies, General Nice Development Ltd holding 25 percent and Tewoo Group Co Ltd, with 20 percent.

As the largest copper producer in South Africa, Palabora's main asset is a copper mine in the nation's Limpopo Province, which also produces vermiculite and magnetite.

Its annual refined copper output is around 80,000 metric tons.

Rio Tinto said Palabora's copper assets did not fit with its development strategy.

"Palabora is a good business but is no longer a natural fit within Rio Tinto's portfolio," said Guy Elliott, chief financial officer of the company.

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