Romania will pick a partner for the consolidation of the nation's largest copper mine Cupru Min prior to its privatisation, economy minister Varujan Vosganian announced.
The drop in copper prices on the foreign markets over the past year [13% y/y as of April] is not in favour of a privatisation, he explained. The company operates the Rosia Poieni copper mine. The final strategy on the sale will be drafted before June 17 by a consultant but in principle the private partner will have to come up with the financing for the necessary investments and will receive in exchange copper ore from the mines’ production until its financial contribution is paid back.
The strategy will be endorsed by the company on June 18. The issue of environmental permits will be fully tackled by the strategy.
There are seven prospective bidders, Vosganian added – but they expressed commitment to take over the majority stake in the company rather than to participate into such a strategy as announced by the ministry.
Romania failed in its attempt to sell 100% in Cupru Min last year as the bidder, Canada's Roman Copper Corp, failed to pay the EUR 200mn price promised.
The company is economically viable and has an operating licence for a copper mine that holds estimated reserves of 1mn tonnes of copper.
Nonetheless, the state does not have the resources to finance the EUR 100mn necessary investments in production and environment-related programmes. The output can increase to 18,000 tonnes of copper annually once adequate investments are implemented.
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