* OZ Minerals books underlying loss of $62.5 mln
* Seeks new CEO within the next 12 months
* Cash pile nearly halves to A$364 mln
* Shares jump 13 pct to four-month high
(Adds details, quotes, bylines, updates shares)
By Sonali Paul and James Regan
MELBOURNE/SYDNEY, Feb 12 Australian copper miner
OZ Minerals, under pressure to grow and seeking
acquisitions, said it will look for a new chief executive after
reporting a full-year loss on Wednesday, sending its stock up 13
OZ Minerals said it was also in talks to find a joint
venture partner to take a leading role in developing its next
big project, Carapateena in South Australia, as output declines
at its sole producing mine, Prominent Hill.
Chief Executive Terry Burgess, who has led the company for
the past five years, said he planned to stay on for up to a year
to ensure an orderly transition.
He joins a growing list of chief executives who oversaw
operations during a decade-long mining boom but lost their jobs
amid restructuring to adjust to weakening minerals prices.
In the last year or so, BHP Billiton , Anglo
American Rio Tinto , Xstrata (now
Glencore Xstrata among others have appointed new chief
Shares in OZ Minerals, which has lost nearly three-quarters
of its value over the past three years, jumped 13 percent on the
news to A$3.84, outpacing a 0.7 percent rise in the broader
"The way I read the (positive) market reaction is as a
'clearing of the decks'," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at
broker IG Markets.
Burgess said the company was in talks with a number of
parties over co-developing the Carapateena project, including
bigger international copper producers anxious acquire new mines.
He declined to given the names of potential partners.
OZ Minerals has previously estimated Carapateena, which has
relatively deep lower-grade reserves of copper, could cost about
A$2 billion to develop.
Copper is proving more resilient than other metals to the
downturn in mining, widening its appeal for mining companies.
Glencore Xstrata, which has a big exposure to copper boosted
output by more than a quarter to 1.5 million tonnes in 2013.
In Peru, Teck Resources Ltd, Newmont Mining Corp
, private equity group Blackstone Group LP and a
group led by the former head of Barrick Gold had looked
at a bid for Glencore Xstrata's Las Bambas copper mine,
according to several people familiar with the
Burgess said Oz Minerals was also on the lookout for
acquisitions that would provide immediate copper production to
replace declining output from Prominent Hill.
"Can we still do M&As? Yes," Burgess told reporters.
Burgess has been under fire for allowing a cash pile at the
company to dwindle to A$364 million - half what it was a year
ago - while prowling for companies to buy.
Despite posting an underlying loss of A$62.5 million ($56.5
million) for 2013, Australia's third-biggest copper miner also
declared a surprise dividend of A$0.30 a share
At the bottom line the company reported a loss of A$294.4
million, marred by a writedown on Prominent Hill, taken at the
($1 = 1.1072 Australian dollars)
(Additional reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang and Thuy Ong;
Editing by Richard Pullin)