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Posted on : Jul 06, 2009
Belgian metals company Nyrstar has announced that it is to expand into mining.
This was revealed with the release of the company’s Strategic Review last week.
Nyrstar is a major global multimetals producer, and is the world’s biggest
producer of zinc metal and alloys and a leading global producer of lead. It also
produces, as by-products, silver, indium, copper, gold and sulphuric acid. It
has smelting, refining, alloying, galvanising, die-casting and recycling plants
in Europe, the US, China, Europe and Australia (some wholly owned, others joint
ventures). The company recently bought the Mid-Tennessee Zinc mine complex in
the US.

However, the company currently refuses to identify the mining regions it is
interested in, or the companies or projects it might seek to acquire. It does
state that it will focus on resources which will support the company’s existing
assets and which represent markets in which Nyrstar already has expertise and
capabi- lity. It explicity cites zinc, lead, silver, gold and copper.

‘ Our aim is that smelting and mining will both provide valuable contributions
to our earnings as we strive to become the partner of choice in essential
resources for the development of a changing world,’ said Nyrstar CEO Roland
Junck. ‘ We continue to believe in the benefits of industry consolidation and
will evaluate opportunities as and when they arise and where they create value
for our shareholders.’ The company argues that moving upstream into mining will
benefit it by ensuring an increased exposure to metal prices throughtout the
economic cycle.

In the short term, Nyrstar believes that the global economy and the metals
markets are both at, or near, a turning point, but that the markets will stay
volatile. In the medium to longer term, forecasts that the industrialisation and
urbanisation of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) will greatly
increase metals consumption will stay valid, argues the company. But the
aftermath of the global recession and credit crunch will mean that the metals
sector will have a reduced capacity to meet the growing demand.

Thus, affirms Nyrstar, the resources outlook is positive and will provide
opportunities. Added to this, the company is of the opinion that current mining
valuations seem to be conservative, creating an opening for it to expand into
mining “now”.

It will be able to fund this expansion because it is in a strong financial
position, with €176 million in cash at the end of March and undrawn credit
facilities of €350-million (€150-million from 2010). Nyrstar also believes that
its move upstream could encourage broader consolidation in the industry.
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