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A “Perfect Opportunity” To Scoop Up Mining Assets On The Cheap Here

Copper prices have hit their lowest levels in 6 years the last few weeks.

For many players in the industry that's triggered cutbacks in production and mine investment. But at least one major copper miner sees the current downturn as a "perfect opportunity."

That's Japanese integrated producer Sumitomo, which said this week it is actively seeking new copper projects globally -- and probably more than one or two.

As reported by Reuters, Sumitomo's president Yoshiaki Nakazato told a news conference Tuesday that the firm is on good financial footing, and looking to make acquisitions in the copper space. "We have a perfect opportunity now to make use of strength and pursue good deals that would benefit us in future," he noted. Related:  OPEC’s Bad Bet By The Numbers

And Sumitomo's M&A plans are ambitious. With the company saying it wants to nearly double its copper production in a very short period of time.

President Nakazato told reporters that Sumitomo is seeking to increase its copper output to 300,000 tonnes yearly, by 2021. Today the company produces just 175,000 tonnes of annual copper -- implying a jump of 125,000 tonnes of yearly capacity over the next six years.

That sort of growth would likely require Sumitomo to acquire at least a couple of major mining projects. And perhaps up to four or five operations -- which would make the company one of the largest buyers of copper projects seen during the current downturn. Related: Why French Military Action In Syria Doesn’t Affect Oil Prices

One of the key questions is: where will they look?

Most of the company's recent moves in copper mining have come in South America, where it bought a stake in Peru's Sierra Gorda mine in 2011 and the Cerro Verde project in 2004, as well as Chile's Candelaria mine in 2005.

That makes the continent a logical place for Sumitomo to shop further -- although the company also has interests in copper mines in Indonesia, Australia and Arizona. Developers in all of these places who are seeking funding or a project sale should take note.

Here's to going on the hunt,

Dave Forest

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