Cobalt ore. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Cobalt ore. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Freeport-McMoRan, the world’s biggest publicly traded copper miner, and China Molybdenum Co Ltd have agreed to terminate discussions on the Chinese firm’s acquisition of the US giant’s cobalt assets, the Arizona-based company said on Wednesday.

China Moly had an exclusive right to negotiate for the assets, which includes the Kokkola Cobalt Refinery in Finland and the Kisanfu exploration project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that exclusivity period expired February 28, said a Freeport spokesman.

In May, China Moly agreed to pay US$2.65 billion for Freeport’s stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine in the southern Congolese copper belt. One of the world’s largest copper deposits, it has been producing since 2009.

Phoenix-based Freeport sold its 70% stake in TF Holdings Ltd, a Bermuda holding company that indirectly owns an 80% interest in Tenke Fungurume Mining, as part of a push to cut its bloated debt load.

FILE PHOTO: Trucks are parked at the open-pit mine of PT Freeport's Grasberg copper and gold mine complex near Timika, in the eastern region of Papua, Indonesia on September 19, 2015 in this file photo taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Muhammad Adimaja/Antara Foto
Trucks are parked at the open-pit mine of PT Freeport’s Grasberg copper and gold mine near Timika in Papua. Photo: Antara Foto/Muhammad Adimaja via Reuters

“Freeport Cobalt remains a strong, viable business with a long-term cobalt supply agreement with Tenke Fungurume of well over 10 years, providing for a comprehensive mine-to-market solution for cobalt products,” said Freeport spokesman Eric Kinneberg.

He declined to comment on whether Freeport has been approached by other parties interested in the cobalt assets, or whether it is currently in any talks.