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wtf nystar considers buying zinc mine...

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    Nyrstar considers buying zinc mine, other smelter

    Nyrstar will consider expanding into mining or buying other zinc smelters
    Nyrstar will consider expanding into mining or buying other zinc smelters

    Nyrstar, the world`s largest zinc smelter, would consider expanding into mining or buying other zinc smelters, amid rampant consolidation in metals industries, chief executive Paul Fowler said on February 26.

    "I don`t think we need to have it (a mine), but we`re not averse to having it if we had a merger opportunity that included getting into some mining," he told Reuters following a presentation at the annual American Zinc Association conference.

    "We`re looking at a variety of things. It`s still early days," he said. Belgium-based Nyrstar began on September 1 as a joint venture combining zinc smelting assets of Belgium`s Umicore and Australia`s Zinifex .

    Fowler said Nyrstar was also looking at acquiring other zinc smelters, but was less likely to diversify into other metals. "The only other metal that is similar to ours in terms of how it`s mined and processed is copper," he said.

    "Right now, with what`s going on between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, if that merger goes through, the copper business is going to be just about wrapped up." Rio Tinto, has rebuffed several takeover bids from BHPB.

    Fowler said he does not see a combination of the top two miners as a threat to his industry because they do not own a lot of zinc. "But they would be a threat to a lot of other industries," he said. Meanwhile, Brazilian miner Vale , the world`s largest iron ore producer, last week increased its bid for Swiss rival Xstrata plc.

    The Nyrstar executive pointed out that Xstrata does have some zinc assets, but they are relatively minor compared with its other holdings, like copper and nickel. A marriage of Vale and Xstrata would turn the merged company into the world`s largest nickel producer.

    "In fact, if the merger did go through, Vale might well choose to divest the zinc assets. And I could see that as an opportunity," Fowler said.

    (Reuters, February 26)
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