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AV Birla group acquires second copper mine in Australia

By Our Staff Correspondent

MUMBAI SEPT. 23. The Aditya Birla Group has announced the acquisition of the group's second copper mine in Australia — the Mount Gordon Copper Mine in Queensland.

The acquisition is through a 100 per cent subsidiary of Hindalco, Birla Minerals, for a gross consideration of Australian $21 million. Earlier, in January, the company had announced the acquisition of Nifty Copper Mines in Australia for a consideration of A $79.8 million.

The Mount Gordon Copper Mine, owned by Western Metals, had gone into Receivership since July 2003. A sale and purchase agreement has been agreed into today to acquire the mine from Western Metals Copper Ltd. (Receivers and Managers appointed) (Administrative appointed) and Western Metals Ltd. (Receivers and Managers appointed) (Administrators appointed).

The agreement also contemplates acquisition of certain joint venture interest of Western Metals on terms to be finally agreed upon with the Receiver. The acquisition is expected to be completed on October 31.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, the Aditya Birla Group, said, "The acquisition of Mount Gordon is a major strategic step in our move to become a globally competitive, integrated copper player. It is a proactive step to entrench ownership in upstream mines. The acquisition is a good fit with our current Australian operations. It has come at an opportune time, subsequent to our successfully stabilising the acquisition of Nifty Copper Mines earlier this year.''

Debu Bhattacharya, Managing Director — Designate, Hindalco, said, "The acquisition accords us a significant opportunity to capture a greater portion of the copper value chain soon after having acquired the Nifty Copper mine. It also enables us to further consolidate our Group's standing in the Australian copper industry. Our intent is to establish copper operations of global significance in Australia.''

For 2002-03, The Mount Gordon Copper Mine produced nearly 46,000 tonnes of copper cathode. "Our aim is to convert the facility to concentrate production within the ensuing nine months. We are optimistic of producing at least 50,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per annum.

The mine's reported resource is estimated at 20 million tonnes of ore grading 3.6 per cent of copper. Further, the acquired assets have a significant exploration upside,'' said Sanjay Loyalka, CEO, Birla Nifty Pty Ltd.

Together the Aditya Birla Group's Australian operations — Mount Gordon and Nifty Copper Mines will cater to more than one third of Birla copper concentrate requirement. The Aditya Birla Group is exploring further acquisitions as well.

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