Australia’s OZ Minerals on a quest to find new CEO, partners and acquisitions

Copper mine Image credit: flickr User: Robert Charles Photography

Australian copper miner OZ Minerals has intensified the search for a new chief executive after reporting a full-year operational loss of $62.5 million, sending its stock up 13%.

Copper mine Image credit: flickr User: Robert Charles Photography
Copper mine
Image credit: flickr User: Robert Charles Photography

According to the article on Reuters, despite posting an underlying loss of A$62.5 million ($56.5 million) for 2013, Australia’s third-biggest copper miner also declared a surprise dividend of A$0.30 a share.

The company is locked in talks with a number of parties to find a joint venture partner which would lead the way in developing its next big project Carapateena in South Australia.

Current Chief Executive Terry Burgess, who has led the company in the past five years, said he planned to stay on for up to a year to oversee the company’s transition.

Mr Burgess is another in the line of chief executives who oversaw operations during a decade-long mining boom, but lost their jobs amid restructuring to adjust to weakening minerals prices.

BHP Billiton, Anglo American Rio Tinto, Xstrata (now Glencore Xstrata) to name a few, have all appointed new Chief Executives in the last year or so.

Shares in OZ Minerals, which have lost almost three-quarters of their value in the last three years, jumped by 13% on the news to A$3.84, outpacing a 0.7% rise in the broader market.

“The way I read the (positive) market reaction is as a ‘clearing of the decks’,” said Evan Lucas, market strategist at broker IG Markets.

According to the company’s estimates, the cost of developing Carapateena, which has relatively deep lower-grade reserves of copper, could amount to A$2 billion.

Mr Burgess, who has been under fire for allowing the company’s cash pile to dwindle to half what it was a year ago, said OZ Minerals was also looking for acquisitions that would provide immediate copper production to replace declining output from Prominent Hill.

“Can we still do M&As? Yes,” Burgess told reporters.