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Jun 17, 2018

South32 agrees to US$1.3B acquisition of Arizona Mining

South32 agrees to US$1.3B acquisition of Arizona Mining

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South32 Ltd. agreed a US$1.3 billion pact to acquire Arizona Mining Inc. to add a flagship silver-lead-zinc project in the U.S., the miner’s second purchase in two months as deal-making returns to the sector.

Perth-based South32 -- spun out of BHP Billiton Ltd. in 2015 -- will pay $6.20 a share for the 83 per cent of the company that it doesn’t already own, according to a filling Monday. Arizona directors have unanimously recommended the deal. It’s priced at a 50 percent premium to Friday’s close.

Miners are seeking to strike deals and bolster growth pipelines as they continue to generate strong cash- low amid firm commodity prices. The value of proposed, pending and completed M&A in the sector rose for a second successive year to about $59 billion in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Arizona’s Hermosa asset, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of Tuscon, includes the Taylor deposit, a high grade zinc-lead-silver resource with a forecast mine life of at least 29 years, as well as the silver and manganese-rich Central deposit, according to filings.

It’s a “project that is shovel ready and well-advanced,” South32 Chief Executive Officer Graham Kerr said on a conference call.

Adding the prospect will address concern over South32’s growth pipeline and provide a potential replacement for silver output at the aging Cannington mine in Australia, RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Hissey said in October following a site visit to Hermosa. The project “is firming as the most compelling growth option in the company’s portfolio,” Hissey said.

South32’s deal follows a smaller pact agreed last month to add a 50 percent interest in the Eagle Downs coking coal project in Australia’s Queensland state.

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