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Anglo American to return to Zambia with Arc Minerals copper deal

Kitco News

(Adds share price move, context of First Quantum Minerals investment)

By Helen Reid CAPE TOWN, May 12 (Reuters) - Arc Minerals shares jumped 6.7% on Thursday after it announced an agreement under which Anglo American would take majority control of the junior exploration firm's Zambia copper-cobalt licences.

Under the deal, which was first reported by Reuters, Anglo will take 70% of a joint venture with Arc that will own licenses to explore Zambia's copper-rich North-Western province, an area Anglo previously explored in the late 1990s. It would mark the first new investment by Anglo in Zambia in 20 years.

Major mining firms are searching for new sources of the battery metals copper and cobalt, especially following the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia which have sent metal prices soaring. Anglo American will pay $3.5 million into Arc upon signing. It will be able to retain its stake by spending $74 million on exploration within seven years of signing and making cash payments of $11 million to Arc, according to terms of the deal. Arc Minerals previously had an exclusivity agreement with Anglo from July 2020 to July 2021, and when that lapsed Arc Minerals said it would start talks with other major miners which had approached it.

Zambia, Africa's second-largest copper producer, has become a more attractive investment proposition for mining companies since the election last August of business-friendly President Hakainde Hichilema and a subsequent mining tax reform. The country aims to more than triple its annual copper output within the next decade to 3 million tonnes a year. First Quantum Minerals last Sunday said its board had approved plans for a $1.25 billion expansion of its Kansanshi mine in Zambia, a decision it said was prompted by renewed confidence in Zambia's investment climate.

(Reporting by Helen Reid; Additional reporting by Clara Denina; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Edwina Gibbs and Ed Osmond)

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