(Adds confirmation Gecamines dropped objection to BHR deal)
KINSHASA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - China Molybdenum Co Ltd (CMOC) said on Sunday it had signed an agreement with Chinese private equity firm BHR to support BHR’s acquisition of a 24 percent stake in Democratic Republic of Congo’s massive Tenke copper mine.
Congo’s mining minister Martin Kabwelulu, meanwhile, confirmed CMOC had become the majority owner of Tenke after state miner Gecamines dropped its objections to CMOC’s purchase in May of a 56 percent stake from Freeport McMoRan Inc for $2.65 billion.
Gecamines, which holds a 20 percent stake in Tenke, one of the world’s largest copper mines, also dropped its objections to BHR’s purchase of a minority stake from Canada’s Lundin Mining in November for about $1.14 billion, Kabwelulu told Reuters.
Gecamines had previously argued that it had a right to pre-empt the deals. Its representatives could not be immediately reached for comment and it was not clear what compensation, if any, the company had received.
“CMOC will provide financial guarantees and other assistance to BHR to ensure that BHR’s acquisition of Lundin’s 24 percent indirect stake in (Tenke) completes successfully in a timely manner,” CMOC said in a statement.
It added that as part of the agreement CMOC would have the right to purchase BHR’s stake at a pre-agreed price if BHR left the project.
Congo is Africa’s largest copper producer, mining about 1 million tonnes of the metal in 2014 and 2015. Tenke has proven and probable reserves of 3.8 million tonnes of contained copper, according to CMOC. (Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Joe Bavier and Clelia Oziel)