Troubled mining major Glencore has started the sale process for its copper mine at Cobar in western New South Wales, Australia, and the Lomas Bayas copper mine in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
This follows news from Glencore last week that it will dramatically cut zinc production leading to the loss of more than 1500 jobs.
The FTSE 100 firm is attempting to reduce US$30 billion of debt created by its 2013 takeover of Xstrata.
“The sale process is in response to Glencore receiving a number of unsolicited expressions of interest for these mines from various potential buyers,” the company said in a statement. “This will allow potential buyers to bid to purchase either one or both of the mines and may or may not result in a sale.”
The CSA operation in Cobar is a long-running high-grade underground mine and plant, while the Lomas Bayas operation is a low-cost, open pit mine.
In Australia, Glencore has 19 mining complexes, including coal, copper, nickel and zinc operations, port facilities, offices and agricultural businesses, among others. In Chile, Glencore owns and has stakes in several mines, as well as a hydro-power project.
The company’s move to cut zinc production comes amid a 30% fall in the price of zinc in recent months. The company said it would cut 500,000 tonnes of zinc production, or 4% of the world’s total supply.
Most of the zinc-related cutbacks will be in Australia, where more than 500 jobs will be lost, as well as South America and Kazakhstan.
It said the move was to “preserve the value of Glencore’s reserves in the ground at a time of low zinc and lead prices, which do not correctly value the scarce nature of our resources”.
Production is to be halted at its Lady Loretta mine in Australia and at Iscaycruz in Peru. Mining operations at George Fisher and McArthur River in Australia and at various locations in Kazakhstan are to be scaled back.
Glencore said “these changes, although temporary, will unfortunately affect employees at our operations” with 1000 staff in Peru losing their jobs. The others are based in Australia.