OZ review to focus on long-term

COPPER producer OZ Minerals will release the much-anticipated results of its company-wide review next Monday, but new CEO Andrew Cole says the focus will be on unlocking long-term value.
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OZ Minerals MD and CEO Andrew Cole

Kristie Batten

Speaking at the South Australian Resources and Energy Investment Conference in Adelaide yesterday, Cole said in the current market companies needed to be prepared to take decisive action and make difficult decisions.

“In the current climate, the challenge is to build long-term real underlying value, in an environment increasingly fixated on very short term gains,” he said.

“We are faced daily with headlines of falling commodity prices and volatile market sentiment.”

Cole said the emphasis on short-term demands had the potential to put long-term futures at risk.

“For a miner to earn the potential to grow in this difficult period requires management to be more decisive and to take difficult decisions quickly, be agile and innovative, tap into the collective wisdom and collaborate widely, and ensure an organisational culture that is focused on delivery, not promises,” he said.

Since taking over in December, Cole has initiated a review of OZ’s operations and investments, the results of which will be released with its quarterly results next week.

So far, OZ has announced the relocation of its head office from Melbourne to Adelaide and sold off its 19.9% stake in fellow copper producer Sandfire Resources.

“I will not pre-empt the review’s outcome but it is designed not to create some short-term benefit but to unlock the long-term value in OZ Minerals,” Cole said.

“We are looking at improvements right across the business, including operating efficiencies and operating costs and examining our operating options for the future.”

OZ operates the Prominent Hill mine in SA and owns the Carrapateena project, considered its major growth prospect.

“Carrapateena in its own right has high pedigree and fantastic potential and it will at some point, be a large mine for a long time,” Cole said .

“Its future will be detailed in the review outcomes as our management team challenges itself to reflect deeply about what our business needs to be and where we take OZ Minerals next.”

Macquarie believes the review will focus on three key issues: rising uranium grades at Prominent Hill, improving Carrapateena’s economics, and the strategy beyond those two projects.

“The economics of Carrapateena are modest at current copper prices and we believe OZ will need to materially improve the returns in order to attract a development partner,” Macquarie said last week.

“We believe OZ may need to commit to constructing an exploration decline to undertake bulk sampling and to test the caving properties of the deposit to de-risk the project enough to attract a partner.”

Macquarie said OZ may choose to put “all its eggs in one basket” and focus on Carrapateena but the review offered a chance to outline a strategy beyond SA.

JP Morgan says investors are likely to avoid OZ until the results of the review are released.

Shares in OZ closed 1.3% lower yesterday at $A3.78.