* Uses option to buy Ajax stake
* Raises stake to 80 pct
* Sees project’s investment needs at $795 mln
* Sees annual capacity at 50,000 tonnes copper
WARSAW, April 2 (Reuters) - Polish copper miner KGHM bought another 29 percent in its Canadian joint venture with Abacus Mining for $29.9 million, raising its bet on Canada as its second base, KGHM said on Monday.
KGHM now holds 80 percent in the KGHM Ajax Mining copper and gold project. The state-controlled miner sees the project’s investment needs at $795 million, with the mine’s planned launch set for 2015.
“According to the base scenario the investment pays off after around eight years and at the current metal prices it is less than three years,” KGHM said.
The move follows KGHM’s purchase last month of Canadian rival Quadra FNX for C$3 billion ($3 billion) - around 80 percent of its record 2011 net profit of 11.33 billion zlotys ($3.63 billion) - leaping into No.4 in the world in terms of documented copper deposits.
The Polish miner also moved into the global top 10 of copper producers, but the group’s own annual output - estimated at 526,000 tonnes together with Quadra - is still less than a third of the world’s No.1 player, Codelco.
According to KGHM, the Ajax mining project should bear 50,000 tonnes of copper and 100,000 ounces of gold annually, with the mine’s life span seen at 23 years.