OZ Minerals is an Australian based mining company which owns and operates the highly regarded Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia and is exploring for further copper and gold deposits around the highly prospective Prominent Hill area. OZ Minerals owns the Carrapateena copper-gold advanced exploration project also situated in South Australia.
OZ Minerals has emerged from a period of financial uncertainty in 2008 and early 2009 as a company which is stronger than ever.
OZ Minerals, formerly Oxiana Limited, was renamed following the merger of Oxiana with fellow Australian based miner Zinifex Limited in June 2008. The name OZ Minerals drew on the strong heritage of both companies.
Oxiana was a mining and exploration company which was reinvigorated with new management in the mid 90’s to become one of Australia’s most successful mid-cap resources companies. The ‘company maker’ for Oxiana was the Sepon gold and copper project in Laos which the Company acquired from Rio Tinto. Oxiana then acquired the Golden Grove base and precious metals operation in Western Australia improving the productivity and profitability of that operation significantly. Oxiana also acquired the Prominent Hill copper gold project in South Australia – now in production - and the Martabe gold project in Indonesia. Oxiana was also a committed explorer with a focus across Asia and in Australia.
Zinifex was listed in 2004 and was also a standout performer on the Australian Stock Exchange. Zinifex owned and operated the Century zinc and lead mine in Queensland and the Rosebery zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold mine in Tasmania. Zinifex was also building its development pipeline with the Dugald River project in Queensland and the Izok Lake and High Lake projects in Canada under study. Zinifex was also active in a growing number of exploration projects in Australia, China, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and Tunisia. In 2007 Zinifex separated its smelting business, forming a company called Nyrstar, becoming a pure mining and exploration company.
OZ Minerals faced financial issues soon after it was formed in 2008 with difficulty in negotiating refinancing of certain of its debt facilities during the credit crisis. OZ Minerals actively pursued a number of activities to secure its financial position, including asset sales, pre-selling expected future production and several equity-raising options.
In early 2009 a solution to OZ Minerals' refinancing issues was presented when, Chinese company, China Minmetals Non Ferrous Metals Co., Ltd (Minmetals), agreed to buy OZ Minerals for a cash consideration of A82.5c/share in cash. However, in late March the Australian Treasurer announced that he would not approve the transaction if it included the Prominent Hill operation (which is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area) on national security grounds. A subsequent agreement was reached whereby Minmetals would purchase OZ Minerals assets except for Prominent Hill (and related exploration leases), certain exploration leases in Cambodia and Thailand and all of OZ Minerals’ listed equity investments.
The transaction was completed on 17 June 2009. Total proceeds amounted to US$1,354 million after settlement adjustments. The sale saw OZ Minerals able to repay all of its bank loan facilities – thus resolving its financial issues – and was left with a healthy cash balance.
On 29 June 2009 OZ Minerals completed the sale of the Martabe gold-silver project in Indonesia to China Sci-Tech Holdings Limited. Total proceeds from the sale amounted to US$217.5 million.
In November 2009 OZ Minerals launched its revised Company strategy.
OZ Minerals strategy is underpinned by the company’s principle of Zero Harm and includes:
- A focus on copper.
- Maximising potential of the company’s key asset Prominent Hill.
- Investing in exploration and building a project pipeline through organic development and acquiring development stage projects or advancing exploration projects.
- Maximising total shareholder returns through capital management initiatives.
- Maintaining high standards of corporate governance across the business.
In 2010 OZ Minerals Limited and IMX Resources Limited formed a joint venture to explore for, and facilitate the development of, copper-gold projects on IMX’s Mt Woods tenements in South Australia. This joint venture gives OZ Minerals access to a large and highly prospective 3,000 kilometre square tenement package in addition to its own 4,000km2.
In July 2010 OZ Minerals purchased a stake in Australian listed Sandfire Resources NL and as at October 2011 OZ Minerals owns around 20% of Sandfire. This strategic investment which provides exposure to Sandfire’s high quality Doolgunna project located in Western Australia, is consistent with OZ Minerals' strategy of identifying copper opportunities which meet its strategic requirements.
In May 2011 OZ Minerals purchased the Carrapateena copper-gold advanced exploration project in South Australia. Studies to bring this large resource into production by 2017/18 are now underway.
In 2012 OZ Minerals expanded its Prominent Hill operation to include underground mining. First ore from stoping was produced at Prominent Hill's Ankata underground mine in the first quarter of 2012. The underground operation will ramp-up over 2012 and is anticipated to reach its full 1.2 million tonnes per annum mining rate by the end of the third quarter of 2012.
Following a review of OZ Minerals' Cambodian assets, OZ Minerals announced in May 2012 that it has sold its Cambodian exploration interests to Renaissance Minerals.