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BHP says copper strategy does not depend on M&A after OZ Minerals snub

SYDNEY, Sept 8 (Reuters) - BHP Group's plans to grow its copper business are not dependent on acquisitions, the global miner's chief executive told shareholders on Thursday, after the rebuff of its bid to take over a smaller Australian copper and nickel firm.

Last month, OZ Minerals rejected BHP's A$8.34 billion ($5.9 billion) takeover bid, aimed at getting control of the West Musgrave copper-nickel project, in a push to expand its battery minerals portfolio.

"BHP's strategy is not dependent on mergers and acquisitions," Mike Henry said in a Q&A session with shareholders that was telecast live on the website of BHP, the world's largest holder of copper resources.

"We've got this very clear focus on growth in copper, but there's a number of levers that we are pulling to unlock that growth, starting with getting more out of the big resources that we have."

Henry did not say if the miner was still pursuing a deal with OZ Minerals or if it would make a revised offer.

"We approached them with a non-binding indicative offer that we thought was very compelling for all shareholders," he added.

"And disappointingly, they chose not to engage with us."

BHP has stepped up efforts to figure out how to faster unlock more of the copper units economically, as well as explore for new copper globally, he added.

On the Arizona-based Resolution Copper, in which BHP owns a 45% stake, Henry said, "It's still quite a fair ways away from a final decision."

He added that technical work continues at Resolution Copper, one of the world's largest undeveloped copper projects, where mining has been delayed by objections from Native Americans.

BHP was engaging with stakeholders and interested parties there, including the First Nations tribes, Henry added. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)