Teck's copper project attracts interest before end-September deadline: sources

LONDON/TORONTO (Reuters) - Mining companies and commodities trading houses are expected to table first-round offers by a September 28 deadline for a stake in Teck Resources Ltd’s Quebrada Blanca copper mine expansion in northern Chile, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Canada’s Teck has said a development partner could contribute $2 billion for a 30 percent to 40 percent stake in the $4.8 billion Phase 2 project, an investment deal it expects to close in the fourth quarter.

Interest is expected to be strong, reflecting lower exploration investment and fewer discoveries since a 2015-16 commodity price crash. Demand for copper is also rising due to the expansion of electricity grids and growing electric vehicles market.

Initial offers are expected from Japanese trading houses Mitsubishi Corp and Sumitomo Corp, two sources said.

Mitsubishi, which recently agreed to raise its stake in the Quellaveco copper project in Peru it shares with Anglo American Plc, declined to comment. Sumitomo was not immediately available for comment.

Japanese trading companies are scouting for mining assets to buy with their growing profit, driven by higher prices for commodities from coking coal and copper to oil and natural gas.

Interested mining companies include Freeport-McMoRan Inc, the world’s largest publicly-traded copper company, China’s state-owned Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco), and Canadian base metals miner Lundin Mining Corp, one of the sources said.

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