Glencore could agree sale of copper mine to Minmetals this week
* Las Bambas mine expected to fetch $5-6 billion
* Sale would increase shareholder return expectations
* Minmetals bidding with Citic and Guoxin
By Anjuli Davies
LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Glencore Xstrata could reach an agreement as soon as this week over the sale of its large Peruvian copper mine Las Bambas to a Chinese consortium led by Minmetals, two sources with knowledge of the situation said.
A sale of Las Bambas, which would be one of China's largest acquisitions of a mining asset in years, would raise hopes that Swiss-based Glencore will return cash to shareholders via a share buyback or special dividend.
Commodities trader Glencore agreed last year to sell Las Bambas to secure approval from competition authorities in top metals consumer China for its $46 billion takeover of mining company Xstrata.
The London-listed group said this month that it had chosen a consortium led by Minmetals as its preferred bidder for the copper project, but the two parties have failed to agree a price.
Representatives of the Chinese consortium are flying to London for talks with a Glencore delegation, the first source said, and an agreement could be reached as soon as this week. Continued...