Sub-Sahara Mining & Industrial Journal
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Exxaro widens critical metals search to greenfield assets

South Africa’s Exxaro Resources EXXJ.J is expanding its search for critical mineral assets to greenfield projects, the miner said on Wednesday, as it pursues its strategy to diversify away from coal.

Exxaro, one of South Africa’s top coal producers, also has interests in iron ore and renewable energy. The company plans to acquire manganese and copper assets, both minerals considered vital for the global transition from polluting fossil fuels to cleaner energy.

The miner was among several firms that were interested in buying Botswana’s Khoemacau copper mine, which holds one of Africa’s largest copper deposits. The $1.88 billion mine was eventually sold to Chinese miner MMG Ltd 1208.HK.

Exxaro’s Chief Growth Officer Richard Lilleike, who is leading the miner’s mergers and acquisitions drive, told analysts that while the company was still interested in producing assets, it would also consider development projects in light of current elevated asset prices.

“In the wake of Koemacau … we certainly are seeing a lot of investment opportunities mostly on the earlier stage capital raising. I think capital markets are quite tough right now and therefore our balance sheet stands out as a partner to new assets or assets under development,” Lilleike said during a call.

Exxaro said it had a net cash balance of 13.5 billion rand ($728.3 million) at the end of October, as it builds a war chest of up to 15 billion rand to fund acquisitions.

The company is selling off its ferroalloys unit, which it says does not fit into its long-term strategy. The unit produces ferrosilicon, mostly used in steelmaking. It plans to complete the sale by June 2024.

Exxaro expects its coal production to be flat at 43 million metric tons in the year to Dec. 31, in line with previous guidance. Export sales are also seen flat this year at just over 5 million tons, amid persistent freight rail logistics challenges.

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