LONDON, March 28 Anglo American has
abandoned a $555 million plan to buy a metallurgical coal
project in Mozambique in the latest sign of prudence from major
miners chastised by investors for excessive spending and poor
In what is likely to be one of the last decisions taken
under outgoing chief executive Cynthia Carroll, Anglo said on
Thursday, after months of talks, conditions for the deal "have
not been satisfied". It gave no further details.
Anglo announced its maiden move into Mozambique in July last
year, trumpeting a deal that would have given it a majority
stake in Minas de Revuboe, a deposit sandwiched between a Vale
mine and a Rio Tinto project. It was a
toehold in a region expected to become a key source of
sought-after steelmaking coal.
But since then, the appetite for major projects has shrunk
dramatically among miners and investors, as majors including
Anglo took hefty hits on the value of boom-year deals.
As a result, Friday's decision is unlikely to come as a
major surprise to the market. It also comes two months after Rio
wrote $3 billion off the value of its own Mozambique asset,
costing the chief executive his job.
Rio's troubles with a project it bought less than two years
earlier were seen as a cautionary tale on big projects in new
areas, just as miners come under pressure from shareholders to
control spending and improve returns.
The start-up of Revuboe had already been set back to at
least 2015, after delays in getting a mining licence. Permitting
delays in Brazil have added billions to the cost of Anglo's
Minas Rio iron ore project there.
Anglo, which has long coveted an asset in Mozambique, said
in Thursday's statement that it still aimed to build up a
position in the East African country's coal region despite
pulling this deal.
Mozambique is expected to become a key source of
sought-after premium, hard coking coal, used in steelmaking.
Stretching along Africa's southeast coast, Mozambique holds some
of the largest untapped deposits of coking coal and is also in a
prime position to supply growing markets in Asia.
The majority stake in Revuboe, in Mozambique's promising
Moatize coal basin, was being sold by the estate of deceased
mining magnate Ken Talbot.
Talbot, one of Australia's richest men and founder of
Macarthur Coal, died in a plane crash in central Africa in 2010
and his estate has since been on the block. The remaining shares
in Revuboe are owned by Nippon Steel and South Korean