The Jefferies team notes that there’s been considerable market chatter over a Rio Tinto possible acquisition of the company. While there are situations that would need to be resolved to complete such a transaction, they think it could be an outstanding fit. They note that such a deal would lessen Rio Tinto’s exposure to iron ore, and increase the company’s exposure to copper.
The world’s mines and steel plants got so devalued during the commodity slump that some were just given away by owners struggling to cut losses or debt. But there’s at least one metal that’s been attracting a lot of attention.
Niobium -- named for a Greek goddess who became a symbol of the tragic mourning mother -- is used to produce stronger, lighter steel for industrial pipes and aircraft parts. It is mined in only three places on Earth, and the price of every kilogram is seven times higher than copper.
China Molybdenum Co. outmaneuvered at least 15 companies last month to purchase Anglo American Plc’s niobium and phosphate unit in Brazil, agreeing to pay $1.5 billion, or 50 percent more than analysts expected. The buying frenzy that included Vale SA, Apollo Global Management LLC and X2 Resources showcased the growing appeal of a market that may be worth $4 billion for a soft, silvery metal many experts don’t know much about.