Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp has bought out Murchison Metals Ltd (MMX) share of two joint venture iron ore projects in Australia.
The Australian based Murchison has agreed to a cash offer of US$315M to give Japan’s largest trader control of the iron ore mine and a rail and port project in Western Australia.
Mitsubishi indicated it will seek talks with potential new venture partners, including Chinese groups, to help build the A$5.94 billion Oakajee port and rail project. South Korea’s largest steelmaker, Posco, which holds a stake in Murchison, is also reported to be interested in retaining a stake in the project.
Acquiring the stakes will increase Mitsubishi’s stake in surging iron ore demand, with consumption in China, the biggest buyer, forecast by Rio Tinto Group to double by 2020 from 2008 levels. Murchison said in September it was revising plans for Oakajee, designed to open Western Australia’s Mid-West region for iron ore exports to Asia, after failing to get funding.
Mitsubishi’s taking full ownership of the Oakajee development removed the “funding uncertainty,” Martin said. Murchison produces ore from the existing mine at Jack Hills.