SYDNEY, April 25 — British mining heavyweight Anglo American confirmed Thursday it was “reviewing” a takeover bid from its larger Australian rival BHP, in what would rank as one of the sector’s biggest deals in years.

Both companies have been wrestling with the transition away from traditional money makers such as gas and coal, increasingly eyeing opportunities to mine metals and critical minerals.

Anglo American’s lucrative copper assets — including major projects in Chile and Peru — were widely seen as a key driver of BHP’s interest.

London-based Anglo American did not disclose the price of the “unsolicited” offer, which BHP must outline in further detail before a deadline of May 22.


“The board is currently reviewing this proposal with its advisers,” Anglo American said in a statement.

“There can be no certainty that any offer will be made nor as to the terms on which any such offer might be made.

“Pending any further announcements Anglo American shareholders should take no action.”


BHP declined to comment.

‘Big Australian’

Nicknamed the “Big Australian”, BHP claims to be the largest mining company in the world, with a market value of around US$148 billion.

Its longtime rival Anglo American has a market value of about US$36 billion.

BHP’s offer would first hinge on Anglo American splitting off its platinum and iron ore holdings in South Africa.

Anglo American earlier this year announced plans to cut thousands of jobs across its platinum business, which was hit hard by low metal prices.

In recent years, BHP has signalled its growing appetite for copper, an increasingly in-demand metal that is poised to play a key role in global energy transitions.

The International Energy Agency lists copper — commonly used in electrical wiring — as of “high importance” for the development of solar panels, electricity networks, electric vehicles and rechargeable batteries.

In May last year, BHP completed the US$6 billion acquisition of Australian copper miner Oz Minerals.

Crucial copper

Market reaction to the deal was muted in Australia due to a public holiday on Thursday.

But Australian renewable energy finance expert Tim Buckley was not convinced it was a wise move.

“I question what the takeover brings aside from complexity,” he told AFP.

Both BHP and Anglo American have been hit by global downturns in nickel, which is essential for the manufacture of stainless steel and rechargeable batteries.

BHP earlier this year reported an 86 per cent slump in its half-year net profit, caused by a write-down of its nickel assets and costs related to a 2015 Brazilian mining disaster.

Nickel prices have dropped about 40 per cent in the past year as new refining techniques enabled low-quality metal from Indonesia to be used instead for batteries. — AFP