What's going on?
Rio Tinto wants to make its mark in the booming copper world, so the world’s second-biggest mining company offered to up its stake in Canadian miner Turquoise Hill on Monday.
What does this mean?
Rio Tinto already owns 51% of Turquoise Hill, and it offered to buy the rest of the company for $2.7 billion on Monday – 32% more than it was worth before the announcement (tweet this). There’s a reason Rio’s willing to pay top dollar: Turquoise Hill owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi, a major copper mine in Southern Mongolia. That means Rio already owns some of the mine through Turquoise Hill, and it actually agreed with the Mongolian government to start work on Oyu’s delayed expansion earlier this year. The plans would see Oyu produce around 500,000 tons of copper a year, turning it into one of the biggest copper mines in the world. No wonder, then, that Rio wants to snap up a controlling stake in the project.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Copper’s popular.
Copper sure looks like it’s in high demand: the red metal’s used in all sorts of industries, and it’s a key part of the green energy transition too. Just look at electric vehicles (EVs): they use three to five times as much copper as a traditional gas-guzzler does, which might explain why the International Copper Association reckons demand for copper used in EVs will more than triple by 2030.
For markets: Really precious metals.
Copper will cost you, mind you: metals across the board have been getting more expensive over the past few months, and war in Europe has really added fuel to the fire. And with key metals like nickel and copper reaching record highs last week, mining companies are set to reap the rewards. That, then, might help explain why an index tracking some of the world’s biggest mining companies has risen by 18% so far this year, while the US stock market has fallen 12%.