Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

London — Anglo American is likely to sell up to 30% of its multibillion-dollar Peruvian copper project Quellaveco to Japanese entities, including Mitsubishi, which already own part of it, three sources familiar with the matter said.

The London-listed miner said in its 2017 financial results it was seeking to cut its 82% interest in Quellaveco, which could produce 225,000 tonnes of copper annually, to between 50% and 70%. The sources said it had hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to help with the sale, which could be announced within the next two months.

Goldman Sachs did not respond to a request for comment and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Japanese trading house Mitsubishi owns 18.1% of Quellaveco, but is looking to increase the stake to just above 30%, one of the sources said.

Mitsubishi was not immediately available to comment.

Other Japanese trading houses including Sumitomo, Mitsui, JX Nippon Mining and Metals, and Itochu are considering making final offers for a minority stake, the sources said.

Sumitomo, Mitsui, JX Nippon and Itochu were not immediately available to comment on details of the sale or the value of the project, which has been estimated by analysts at between $5bn and $6bn.

In an e-mailed comment on Thursday, CEO Mark Cutifani reiterated that Anglo American would retain more than 50%. "The percentage that we syndicate will be based on value and a number of other commercial and other factors," he said.

Mining executives say there is widespread interest in new copper assets following a lack of investment in exploration because of the 2015-16 commodity price crash and as the expansion of electricity grids and the take up of electric vehicles spur demand.

Benchmark copper prices on the London Metal Exchange have rebounded to nearly $7,000 a tonne from lows of about $4,300 a tonne hit in early 2016, which was the weakest for seven years.