BHP, Freeport to Invest in Jetti Resources, Jetti Says
By Alistair MacDonald
An obscure mining business part-owned by members of the Pritzker
and Walton families is getting some new heavyweight investors: BHP
Group Ltd. and Freeport-McMoRan Inc., two of the world's biggest
The investment in Jetti Resources LLC, which extracts copper out
of mine waste, comes amid growing interest and rallying prices for
the metal used in construction and manufacturing, as well as to
conduct electricity. Demand for copper is expected to outstrip
supply in the coming years, with more of the metal needed as the
world transitions to a lower-carbon economy.
Jetti said that BHP, Freeport and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. were
among a group that had agreed to invest a total of $50 million in
the company to help fund the rollout of the business. It didn't
disclose the value of the company, or the size of its new
Jetti's current owners include DNS Capital, the family office of
Gigi Pritzker, a movie producer who is one of the heirs of the
family behind the Hyatt hotel chain. Ben Walton, whose family
founded Walmart Inc., also owns a stake. Both will remain
Laura Tyler, BHP's chief technical officer, said in a statement
that the miner expected global copper demand to double over the
next 30 years as more of the metal is used to support renewable
technologies and decarbonization goals.
Boulder, Colo.-based Jetti uses a type of leaching technology,
whereby chemicals help separate ore from its surrounding earth, to
extract copper that would otherwise be too difficult to get out
using conventional methods.
Miners typically abandon earth they have dug out where the ore
is perceived to be of too low a grade to make it worthwhile to
Jetti says that this so-called lost copper could ease a looming
shortage of the metal.
"There is a shortfall of copper in the future. We are able to
help fill that up... by being able to process the massive amount of
wasted material that the industry has in its mines," said Mike
Outwin, Jetti's chief executive.
While a mine can take 10 years to develop, Mr. Outwin said his
method can produce copper more quickly because it is working on
stockpiles of earth that have already been built up.
Jetti says it has a pipeline of 23 projects at various stages
with one already producing copper through this process in Pinto
Big miners like BHP, the world's largest, and Arizona-based
copper giant Freeport typically have huge piles of waste that came
from extracting copper.
Jetti estimates there are around 234 million metric tons of this
so-called contained copper, which could be processed between now
and 2050. It says that material would be worth about $2.4 trillion
at current market prices.
Recycling mine waste from old mines to get new resources isn't
new. The gold-mining industry has been doing it for years, while
the U.S. government is financing research into how rare earths, key
minerals in various technology products, can be extracted from coal
ash and waste.
Jetti says its technology makes extracting copper from mine
waste commercially viable for the first time.
Copper prices have almost doubled over the past 12 months to a
record of $10,762 a metric ton last month, buoyed as the global
economy bounces back from Covid-19, governments increase spending
on infrastructure and supply stutters for some resources.
Potential shortages of copper are seen as particularly acute and
a possible problem for some green technologies, like electric
vehicles and energy storage, that use the metal.
The total demand for copper is forecast to increase 40% by 2030
-- with so-called green demand jumping as much as 900% -- according
to Goldman Sachs, leaving a supply shortfall of 8.2 million metric
tons. Even as copper prices have rallied over the past 12 months,
no material new mines have been approved, it added.
Write to Alistair MacDonald at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 03, 2021 06:26 ET (10:26 GMT)
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