MOSCOW Feb 18 Russia's largest iron ore miner
Metalloinvest on Monday denied it was in official
talks to sell the country's largest untapped copper deposit.
Russia's Norilsk Nickel had been invited to join
the Udokan project as a partner a couple of months ago, state
industrial conglomerate Rostec, which is also involved in the
project, said last week.
Metalloinvest said it was not in official negotiations to
sell the company that manages the licence for the Udokan copper
deposit. Udokan, the world's third-largest copper deposit,
contains an estimated 24.6 million tonnes of the ductile metal.
"Preliminary discussions were not official," Metalloinvest
said in the statement. "The company believes that an estimate
for Udokan copper deposit discussed in media, significantly
undervalues the deposit and does not reflect its market value."
Norilsk, the world's top nickel and palladium miner, is not
in talks to buy a stake in Udokan, Norilsk co-owner and CEO
Vladimir Potanin said last week.
Taken together with recent comments by industry sources, the
official statements from Norilsk and Metalloinvest may suggest
that talks on Udokan, which would cost an estimated $8 billion
to develop did not go beyond an exploratory stage.