A Chinese consortium is the frontrunner to buy Glencore Xstrata Plc’s Las Bambas copper mine in Peru for at least US$5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. A group that includes affiliates of state-controlled China Minmetals Corp., CITIC Group Corp. and Guoxin Group is the only bidder left in the auction, which Glencore Xstrata agreed to hold to gain China’s approval for the merger that gave rise to its creation in 2013. It isn’t clear when a deal will be completed, and another competitor could emerge from the sidelines and win the auction, according to the report. The Las Bambas project, which is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2015, will be able to produce 450,000 metric tons of copper a year in its first five years and 300,000 tons for the remainder of its operating life, according to Glencore Xstrata. The mine is expected to cost US$5.9 billion to develop, the newspaper said.
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