June 9, 2016 / 6:37 PM / 2 years ago

Lundin mulls interest from multiple parties on Tenke copper mine

TORONTO, June 9 (Reuters) - Lundin Mining Corp is weighing interest from “multiple parties” for its stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chief Executive Paul Conibear said on Thursday.

In June, Tenke mine operator Freeport-McMorRan Inc agreed to sell its majority stake to China Molybdenum for $2.65 billion to help cut its debt.

Lundin has a 24 percent stake in the mine and the right of first offer on any sale. Last month it hired the Bank of Montreal to help it consider its options. Freeport owns 56 percent of Tenke, one of the world’s largest copper deposits. Congo’s state mining firm Gecamines owns a 20 percent stake.

Lundin could do nothing and allow the China Moly deal to proceed, supplant the offer, or sell its stake.

“We’ve been pleased by the response on interest, on a number of these scenarios. There are multiple parties interested,” Conibear said in an interview at the company’s office.

“We’ve been busy and BMO’s been busy, very busy. It’s obviously not an easy process, the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) is a more challenging environment and Tenke’s a really big operation. But we’ve had very credible interest.”

Lundin has until Aug. 8 to decide.

“It’s obviously our highest priority to evaluate these things in a relatively short period of time and make some decisions,” Conibear said.

Mounting a bid, either independently or as part of a group, is the most complex move, he said. There are variations of each of its three options.

He would not comment on which is preferable or whether Lundin’s right of first offer can be transferred.

Separately, Conibear said Lundin would not get involved in Nevsun Resources’ planned takeover of Reservoir Minerals. Reservoir owns a copper-gold project in Serbia under a joint venture with Freeport.

Nevsun said in late April that it would buy Reservoir for $365 million, trumping an offer Lundin announced in March to buy part of Freeport’s stake for up to $262.5 million. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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