Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ivanhoe's Burma stakes to be sold to Chinese firm

by Moe Thu

Rangoon (Mizzima) - A Chinese firm has technically reached an agreement with the Canadian firm Ivanhoe Mines to buy the shares of its subsidiary, active in Burma, according to a Burmese mining expert.

“Half of the stakes in the Myanmar Ivanhoe Copper Company Limited (MICCL), a joint venture with the military-run Mining Enterprise (1), is to be sold to the Chinese firm, which is yet to be identified,” the expert said.

The half stake of the joint venture's copper mine in Monwya in the Sagaing Division in Burma, is an investment project facing international criticism, he said.

The project, one of the huge copper mines in South-east Asia, produces some 40,000 tonnes of copper cathode a year.

Meanwhile, the Canadian company – listed on the stock exchanges of Toronto, New York and NASDAQ under the symbol IVN – plans to boost its production up to 200,000 tonnes a year, if the military government approves it and the required electricity supply is met.

The Monywa operation was halted last year for undisclosed reasons. However, responding to the military government's bloody suppression of the 2007-September uprising led by Buddhist monks, Ivanhoe Mines released a statement the following month, noting that a constitutional change appeared to be jeopardised by the military-ruled state's reactions.

The operation has three deposits, in two of which the JV is active, namely Sabetaung and Kyeesintaung.

There are over 1,000 employees in the Monywa Copper project including a few expatriates.

In the October 2007 statement as well, Ivanhoe Mines said the ownership of its Myanmar assets was transferred to an independent third party trust.

Ivanhoe is also exploring for copper, uranium and gold in China, Mongolia and Australia.

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