U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 48 mins

A $12 billion commodities giant is thinking about ditching the oil business

Akin Oyedele
oil rig

(AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Freeport-McMoRan may get rid of its oil and gas business.

In a release on Tuesday, the company said it was considering spinning off its oil and gas business to shareholders.

The goal is to focus on its core copper business and be able to fund that with its own cash and resources, relying less on debt.

It also announced it was reducing the size of its board to nine members from 16.

Commodity prices have been slammed this year, including copper, which fell to the lowest level in six years. Analysts said the fall in copper was due partly to concerns about China's economy and its demand appetite.

On Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down about 23% from year-to-date highs.

The company said: "While taking prudent near-term steps responsive to the currently weak market conditions, FCX remains confident about the longer-term outlook for copper prices based on the global demand and supply fundamentals. A primary objective will be a significant reduction over time of FCX's current debt level."

The stock rose as much as 4% in premarket trading. It is down 52% year-to-date.

NOW WATCH: What 'Shark Tank' co-star Daymond John learned from losing $6 million

More From Business Insider