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Korea Resources to Sell Stake in First Quantum’s Cobre Panama

Korea Resources Corp., a state-run minerals explorer, is seeking to sell its 10 percent in the $6.4 billion Cobre Panama copper project being built by majority owner First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

Korea Resources has hired Standard Chartered Securities Korea Ltd. to value its stake for a sale, said Lee Jongki, the company’s spokesman in Seoul. First Quantum declined to comment on whether it had any interest in the stake, when contacted by Bloomberg News.

LS-Nikko Copper Inc., the South Korean smelter that also owns 10 percent, doesn’t plan to sell its share, its spokesman Shin Dong Gwang said.

First Quantum, which acquired 80 percent of Cobre Panama with its $4.7 billion hostile takeover of Inmet Mining Corp. last year, plans to invest $6.43 billion to produce an annual 320,000 metric tons of copper from the first quarter of 2018 in a bid to become the world’s fifth-largest producer of the metal.

The Korean partners paid about $199 million combined for their stakes in 2012. Inmet said before last year’s takeover that the Korean companies would fund $1.4 billion of the $6.2 billion cost of the project at the time.

First Quantum last year produced 412,281 tons of copper and 386,057 tons of nickel. It plans capital expenditure of $2.1 billion this year, with investments of $600 million each in the Cobre Panama project and Sentinel mine in Zambia. The 300,000-ton Sentinel project will begin output in the second half.

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