The mining investment arm of Abu Dhabi’s International Resources Holding (IRH) is in discussions to acquire a majority stake in the Zambian copper assets of Vedanta Resources, Reuters reported.

Two sources privy to the development told the new agency that IRH’s unit recently offered more than $1bn (Dh3.67bn) to buy a 51% stake in KCM from Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta.

IRH’s offer for a controlling stake is non-binding and talks are ongoing, one of the sources said.

The offer, exceeding $1bn, is said to be part of a broader strategy by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to secure critical metal supplies from Africa, aligning with the global transition to green energy.

The bid for a controlling interest is non-binding and discussions are ongoing. Vedanta has historically sought to retain these assets on its balance sheet, which could complicate the sale of a majority stake.

Vedanta is looking to divest part of its 80% holding in KCM and has engaged Standard Chartered to oversee the process, according to the news agency.

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The aim is to raise capital for the revitalisation of the assets, which suffered during an ownership dispute with the Zambian Government that began in 2019.

The Zambian Government, through ZCCM Investments Holdings, retains a 20% stake in KCM.

Interest in KCM is not limited to IRH, with Vedanta open to selling either a minority or majority stake.

Standard Chartered has issued a “request for proposals” to potential investors for a minority interest. Vedanta regained control of KCM after a series of legal battles and international arbitration with the previous Zambian Government, which had accused the company of inadequate investment and had seized the mines and smelting plant.

In February, Vedanta’s CEO of the base metals unit, Chris Griffith, told the news agency that the company aims to raise about $1bn to invest in the assets over the next five years, with another $300m earmarked for settling outstanding local debts.

The investment would support the Konkola Deep Mining Project, which has one of the richest copper deposits globally.

IRH’s interest in KCM is focused on acquiring a controlling stake as the operations require significant investment and are currently not profitable, making a passive investment unappealing.