Grupo Mexico is reportedly among several contenders aiming to acquire the Las Cruces copper mine in Spain from First Quantum Minerals, as the Canadian company seeks to strengthen its financial position, according to a Bloomberg report.

The move comes after First Quantum’s primary operation, the Cobre Panama mine, was mandated to cease operations.

This led to a financial crunch, prompting the sale of the Spanish asset, people privy to the development told the news agency.

First Quantum initiated the sale of its Las Cruces mine in December, following the unexpected shutdown of the Cobre Panama mine, which caused financial uncertainties for the company.

Valued at less than $1bn, Las Cruces is one of First Quantum’s smaller ventures but represents a strategic opportunity for Grupo Mexico to increase its presence in Europe.

The acquisition of Las Cruces would mark Grupo Mexico’s continued interest in European expansion, following an unsuccessful attempt to purchase Minas de Aguas Tenidas, also in Spain, in 2021. The asset was acquired by Sandfire Resources for approximately $1.9bn.

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By GlobalData

Despite the interest, both First Quantum and Grupo Mexico have refrained from commenting on the potential deal.

Las Cruces is transitioning from an open-pit mine, which concluded operations in 2021, to an underground mine, which is expected to extend its lifespan by at least 18 years.

The mine’s development plan includes a refinery capable of producing around 72,000t of copper cathode each year, which is then shipped as the final product.

In May 2021, Grupo México reportedly considered a $3.1bn investment in metals refining activities in Sonora.

Additionally, Grupo México decided to invest $815m to build power infrastructure on the Baja California peninsula.

This includes the construction of a 500km transmission line running north-south along the southern half of the peninsula.