International Resources Holding RSC Ltd. of Abu Dhabi will invest more than $1 billion in Zambia's Mopani copper mine, securing access to a metal that's key to the energy transition as fears grow over future supplies.
The group was announced as the winner of a drawn-out process to invest in the government-owned mine on Nov. 30. The deal will help Zambia revive major copper and cobalt mines that Glencore Plc previously owned.
Zambia's majority state-owned ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc said Friday that IRH will pay $620 million for a 51 per cent stake in the business, with the government owning the rest.
IRH has also agreed to make up to $400 million in shareholder loans. ZCCM said it's also in talks with Glencore about restructuring its debt to the commodity trader.
Mopani, which traces its roots back to 1929, needs about $300 million to complete projects started by Glencore and boost annual production fivefold, to 200,000 tons. Mopani made a loss of $196 million in the first half of 2023, according to ZCCM-IH. The company operates two sites in Zambia's Copperbelt province, including shafts, a smelter and a refinery.
The deal comes after ZCCM-IH purchased the Swiss commodity giant's 90 per cent stake in Mopani in 2021 for $1 cash and $1.5 billion in debt. Glencore, which had clashed with the previous Zambian government over the future of the long-unprofitable operation, retains offtake rights to part of the mine's output until the debt is settled in full.
Addressing reporters Friday, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said that the debt portion of the deal has been lowered.
"We have now been able to negotiate this liability down from $1.5 billion to $400 million," he said.