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Mubadala Interested in Stalled Potash Project, Argentina Says

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co. is interested in investing in Vale SA’s halted $5.9 billion potash project in Argentina, according to a provincial official.

“We have offered Vale strategic partners interested in bringing in money,” Carlos Molina, head of mining for Mendoza province, said in a telephone interview today. “Mubadala is one and a Canadian-Australian company is another.”

The two companies are considering entering the project even if Rio de Janeiro-based Vale decides to exit in a board meeting scheduled for today, Molina said. Vale is seeking tax breaks and partners to help make the Rio Colorado project more profitable. He didn’t identify the Canadian-Australian company.

Vale dropped 1.2 percent to 34.31 reais at 11:55 a.m. in Sao Paulo. The press departments of Vale and government-owned Mubadala didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment on prospects for investing in the project.

Work at Rio Colorado was suspended indefinitely in January so Vale could reassess the project, which has become more costly because of inflation and exchange rate fluctuations. Vale also received demands from some of the provinces affected by the project, Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira told analysts in a Feb. 28 conference call.

“We have analyzed all scenarios and have a response for any decision Vale may chose today,” said Molina, who has held meetings with federal government and company officials over the past month. “This situation will be sorted out.”

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