Sat, 25 Apr 2009
Sydney (ANTARA News) - Australian miner OZ Minerals on Friday said it had agreed to sell its Martabe gold and silver project in Indonesia to a Hong Kong-listed investment company for more than 200 million US dollars.

The announcement of the planned deal with China Sci-Tech (CST) came a day after Canberra approved a revised 850 million US dollar takeover offer for the debt-laden Australian company from China's Minmetals.

That offer excluded the Martabe project in North Sumatra and Australia's Prominent Hill mine in South Australia.

OZ Minerals said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange that CST had agreed to pay 211 million US dollars in cash and the transaction was expected to be completed by June.

"However, it is conditional on the consent of certain of OZ Minerals' lenders, CST's shareholders, and Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB)," the company was quoted by AFP as saying.

The FIRB gave the green light late Thursday for Minmetals to acquire certain of OZ's assets, after scuttling the initial bid on national security grounds because it included the Prominent Hill gold and copper mine, which is near a military site.

That deal is still subject to a shareholder vote and regulatory approvals from Beijing.

The proceeds from the sale of the Indonesian project "will make an important contribution to addressing OZ Minerals' refinancing issues," the firm's CEO Andrew Michelmore said.

State-owned Chinese corporations have made a number of bids for Australian mining assets in recent months, including a proposed 19.5-billion-US-dollar investment in mining giant Rio Tinto by Chinalco which is still under review.

Beijing's interest has sparked intense debate in Australia over whether to allow Chinese state-owned entities to increase their control over the country's resources. (*)



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