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Codelco says an Anglo suit could last years

Reuters | Sun, 13 Nov 2011 10:15

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[] -- CHILEAN copper giant Codelco's looming legal battle with mining major Anglo American could take three to four years to be resolved, Codelco chief Diego Hernandez said in a press interview published on Saturday.

The state-controlled company has vowed to exercise its 49% option in Anglo's southern Chilean assets - but Anglo says it will not sell that much.

The two are heading for a showdown over the long-standing option, with Codelco insisting it has a 49% option in Anglo American Sur, while Anglo says that has been reduced to 24.5% after a surprise stake sale.

"Maybe Anglo American thinks it preferable to postpone this problem for three or four years rather than solving it now," Hernandez told local daily La Tercera. "But you can't mortgage the future for a short-term victory."

Anglo shocked Codelco and investors on Wednesday when it announced it sold a 24.5% stake in its southern Chilean copper properties to Japan's Mitsubishi Corp for $5.4bn, signaling an aggressive stance in negotiations with Codelco, the world's top copper producer.

Codelco will take legal action if Anglo rejects its option in January, Hernandez said earlier.

"We've already started the process of exercising the option and in January we're going to exercise it and they have to sell us their assets," he told reporters on Friday.

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