BHP Ups Bid for Copper Miner OZ Minerals to $6.4 Billion

(Bloomberg) — BHP Group Ltd. made an improved A$9.6 billion ($6.4 billion) offer to acquire copper producer OZ Minerals Ltd. as the world’s top miner seeks more exposure to rising demand from clean energy and electric cars.

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OZ Minerals will recommend shareholders vote in favor of the A$28.25 a share offer, the Adelaide, Australia-based company said Friday, after rejecting an earlier A$25 per share bid in August. The proposed acquisition would be BHP’s largest since the $12.1 billion purchase of Petrohawk Energy Corp. in 2011.

Miners across the globe are hungry for copper assets to add a metal that’s regarded as critical to the energy transition due to its use in electricity networks, renewable energy and electric vehicles. Demand for copper is set to jump 58% by 2040, according to BloombergNEF, and BHP is looking to consolidate its position as one of the world’s largest producers.

BHP has said so-called future facing metals copper and nickel, as well as fertilizer ingredient potash, are key to the company’s growth as demand plateaus for iron ore, its most important commodity, and the world moves away from fossil fuels. BHP has reduced its coal business in recent years, and sold its entire oil and gas business to Woodside Energy Group this year.

“The combination of BHP and OZL’s assets, skills and technical expertise provides a unique opportunity not available under separate ownership,” BHP Chief Executive Officer Mike Henry said.

OZ Minerals shares rose as much as 4.5% to A$27.49, the highest level since April, and traded at A$27.38 as of 12:13 p.m. in Sydney on Friday.

The latest offer is 49% above the OZ Minerals share price on Aug. 5, the trading session before BHP made its first bid. BHP will now conduct due diligence and the offer will be its “best and final” proposal, the company said.

OZ Minerals, which has operations adjacent to BHP’s huge Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, would add around 7% to BHP’s annual copper production. The target also has mines in Brazil and a key nickel project in Western Australia.

“BHP’s revised proposal is a clear reflection of OZ Minerals’ unique set of highly strategic, quality assets in quality jurisdictions and an enviable multi-generational growth pipeline of copper and nickel assets in strong demand due to global electrification,” OZ Minerals Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cole said.

The offer came as Rio Tinto Group, BHP’s biggest competitor, hit another roadblock in its bid to take full control of Turquoise Hill, a Canadian company that has what would be one of the world’s largest copper mines in Mongolia.

(Adds shares in sixth paragraph. A previous version of the story corrected the currency in headline.)

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By Matt Earle

Matthew Earle is the Founder of MiningFeeds. In 2005, Matt founded MiningNerds.com to provide data and information to the mining investment community. This site was merged with Highgrade Review to form MiningFeeds. Matt has a B.Sc. degree with a minor in geology from the University of Toronto.

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