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Trafigura’s Tiger Seeks to Raise Stake in Congo Copper Mine

Tiger Resources Ltd., part owned by Trafigura Beheer BV, is in talks with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-run mine operator Gecamines in a bid to raise its stake in the Kipoi copper project in southern Katanga province.

Tiger has been in discussions for more than six months over expanding the stake to as much as 80 percent, from 60 percent now, Managing Director Bradley Marwood said in a phone interview from Perth, Australia, where the company is based. An increase would boost the company’s ability to raise debt, he said.

“It’s much easier to get financing when you have a clear majority,” Marwood said. “That will make my operations grow much more quickly. I can do what I’m doing without raising debt but maybe I want to go faster to take advantage of current copper prices. We’re getting some traction.”

Tiger, 26 percent-owned by Trafigura, according to Marwood and Bloomberg data, is producing concentrate with 25 percent copper content at a rate of 130,000 metric tons a year, which will generate an annual $100 million in profit, Marwood said.

Mining companies are boosting production as they struggle to meet surging demand for copper that has driven prices to a record this year. Xstrata Plc and Anglo American Plc yesterday said they would study an expansion of the third-largest copper mine, in Chile, that may as much as double output by 2017.

“The Kipoi project is such a quality asset,” Adam Kiley, a London-based mining analyst with Ambrian Partners Ltd., said in an interview today. “Increasing its stake is what it wants to be doing.”

Cathode Plant

Tiger is considering constructing a so-called Solvent Extraction Electrowinning copper cathode plant after spending more than $60 million to begin output at the mine, Marwood said.

Final results from a metallurgical study due in August will show whether the $250 million, 50,000 ton-a-year plant is viable, he said, adding it will be funded with cash flow.

Shares in Tiger fell for a second day, declining 2.4 percent to 41 Australian cents.

Trafigura’s Head of Corporate Affairs Mark Eadie declined to comment in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News yesterday.

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