Two years ago, the world’s largest zinc miner needed to cut production to turn around a bloated market. Now, supply is the tightest in years and Glencore Plc wants to get bigger.
Glencore curtailed zinc output at mines in Australia and Kazakhstan to solve a supply overhang and lift prices off six-year lows. The company succeeded — the zinc market is in deficit, prices are at a decade high and inventories are getting scarce.
Late Tuesday, the mining giant took its wager further by announcing plans to increase its stake in Latin America’s largest zinc miner, Volcan Cia. Minera SAA. The company reached an agreement to acquire 27 percent of Volcan’s Class A voting shares for $531 million and may increase its stake even further via a public tender.
“This is a clear vote of confidence in the zinc market from Glencore,” Paul Gait, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London. “It’s about control and discipline, about knowing when to take tons off the market and when to bring them back on. There’s no point having control if you’re going to be all floppy and useless with it.”
Throughout the market, there is plenty of evidence of Glencore’s discipline. The shutdowns removed 3.5 percent of global mine production, and there’s no sign the company is itching to bring it back soon.
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