Glencore has signed a $588m agreement to acquire full ownership of the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia from joint venture partners BHP and Anglo American.

The firm will purchase the remaining stake in the venture it does not already own by acquiring the respective 33.3% stakes of BHP and Anglo American, representing its full exit from thermal coal operations.

In addition, BHP is exploring options to divest its Australian thermal coal assets, including the Mount Arthur coal project.

Earlier this year, Anglo American announced the demerger of its thermal coal assets in South Africa.

In a statement, Glencore said: “The alternative is one or more new joint venture partners acquiring these shares and compromising the sustainable operating philosophy of Cerrejón, and extending production beyond the current mining concessions.

“Equally, a disposal of Glencore’s current stake in the mine would not be consistent with our stated commitment to a responsibly managed decline of our coal portfolio.”

Setting a net-zero emissions target by 2050, Glencore has updated its emissions reduction goal as a result of the deal.

This includes a 50% reduction in Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2035, marking an increase from the previous 40% target against 2019 levels.

The firm also set a 2026 short-term reduction target of 15%.

The deals await regulatory approval and are inter-conditional on each other.

The existing mining concessions for the Cerrejon mine are due to expire in 2034. The production volumes are also anticipated to ‘decline materially’ from 2030 onwards.

Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said: “Glencore has been involved with Cerrejón for more than 20 years. We know the asset well and believe that we are the most responsible steward for Cerrejón at this stage of its lifecycle.

“We are confident we can manage the decline of our fossil fuel portfolio in a responsible manner that is also consistent with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, as demonstrated by our strengthened total emission reduction targets.”

Claimed to be one of the largest surface coal mining operations in the world, the Cerrejon coal mine and an estimated total measured and indicated resources of 4156.3Mt.