A consortium led by state-run Korea Resources Corp. has dropped a bid for an Australian coal producer to focus more on other businesses, KORES said Thursday.
“Coal is no longer a priority when it comes to our business. We have been concentrating more on developing other minerals such as rare earth metals and lithium lately,” a KORES official told The Korea Herald.
The consortium also includes local trading firm Daewoo International Corp., which pulled out of the deal as well.
The KORES-led consortium was named the preferred bidder for Whitehaven Coal last month, which is expected to be worth over $3.5 billion, according to the state-run developer.
Whitehaven Coal, which produces coking coal and thermal coal used in steelmaking and power generation, respectively, from mines in New South Wales, was put up for sale last year.
The KORES withdrawal comes two days after the firm said it plans to send a delegation to Australia to urge the New South Wales government to reverse its move to reject the firm’s development of a coal mine near Wyong.
The firm said it plans to take all measures including possible legal action to obtain the mining permit for the Wallarah 2 mine near Wyong.
The New South Wales government recently declined an application by KORES to develop the mine, in which the firm has an 82 percent stake, possibly due to a political motive. It has been speculated the government intends to win votes from conservation groups ahead of the general elections.
However, KORES denied any correlation between the two matters.
“The decision has nothing to do with what happened for Wyong mine recently. We are currently developing 10 mines out of 13 in Australia. Withdrawals are thus quite common,” the KORES official said.
South Korea is to increase its rare earth reserves to around 1,500 tons by 2014 amid fierce global competition to ensure a stable supply of the materials key to high-tech products, according to the government.
KORES has been leading the drive, tapping new African and South American markets to expand their foreign business over the years.
By Koh Young-aah (email@example.com