Currently viewing Global edition

Creditors set new deadline for Doe Run Peru bidder

Creditors of bankrupt metals company Doe Run Peru have given one more chance to the chosen bidder to produce funds required to buy its assets, including the La Oroya metallurgical complex in the central Andes.

Tom Azzopardi in Santiago

Following a meeting in Lima today, the board of creditors agreed to give Samsel Group until their next meeting scheduled for November 20 to come up with the necessary US$139 million.

If not, they will schedule final auctions for La Oroya and the Cobriza copper mine for April next year, an advisor to the workforce told Mining Journal on October 9.

Ahead of the meeting, workers and their families marched through the streets of the city of La Oroya and blockaded Peru's central highway demanding action to open the plant.

Formerly owned by US billionaire Ira Rennert, the La Oroya complex closed almost a decade ago after Doe Run Peru ran out of funds during the global financial crisis.

The smelter's lead-laced fumes gave the town a toxic reputation with air so dirty children were bussed out each day for schooling.

The company's Cobriza mine, located near the city of Huancavelica, has continued to operate but at less than its full capacity of 20,000 tonnes per annum of copper concentrate.

Authorities are keen to revive the metallurgical complex which they say will boost Peru's mineral exports. The state is also Doe Run Peru's biggest creditor.

Following a series of failed auctions, creditors agreed in April this year to let the workforce, which is owed US$35 million in back-pay, try to find a buyer for the business.

Rebuffing offers from mining companies and commodity traders, the workers picked relative unknown Samsel Group whose CEO Luis San Martin has promised to invest US$800 million to refurbish and expand operations and build a new settlement for the people of La Oroya away from its toxic emissions.

But Samsel has missed successive deadlines to provide the funds required to buy the assets.

Meanwhile, his description of the source of the promised funds has changed several times. Originally, San Martin told creditors that the funds would come from a Chinese company, and then from Swiss bank Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique. Late last month, after missing another deadline, he said the funds would come via NextHome, a property company based in in Alicante, Spain.

Its patience tested, the government said that it might intervene to find a more reliable partner for the workers.