May 28, 2013 / 2:21 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-KGHM may sell Tauron stake if new mining projects appear

* KGHM may scrap energy sector investment plans

* Expects early results from its shale gas wells by 2015

* Tauron shares fall 0.7 pct

By Agnieszka Barteczko and Adrian Krajewski

WARSAW, May 28 (Reuters) - Europe’s No.2 copper producer KGHM may consider selling its stake in Polish utility Tauron to focus on new mining ventures, a senior company executive said on Tuesday.

The state-controlled Polish miner had planned to invest more in the local power sector, but falling power prices as well as a need for hefty spending on oversees mining projects meant it had to focus on its core business in the a long-term strategy, said Deputy Chief Executive Dorota Wloch.

The deputy CEO said KGHM was analysing whether to unload its 10.4 percent stake in Tauron, worth some $250 million, but was in no rush.

“Why should we take any nervous steps at the moment? I would say that Tauron will have to be sold when we have another interesting mining project,” Wloch said in an interview.

Since KGHM bought the stake during Tauron’s 2010 flotation, shares in Poland’s No.2 utility have shed some 15 percent of their value. The stock was down 0.7 percent by 1331 GMT.

KGHM and Tauron are also working on the 850 megawatt combined-cycle gas-fired Blachownia plant, a project Wloch described as unprofitable for KGHM at current power prices.

A final decision on Blachownia is expected by the end of this year.

In an effort to expand beyond its home market, KGHM spent C$3 billion to buy Canada’s Quadra FNX, renamed KGHM International and whose assets include the Sierra Gorda mine in Chile, which KGHM is jointly developing with Japan’s Sumitomo.

Wloch said that although KGHM is concentrating on Sierra Gorda, it may decide to make additional foreign acquisitions.

KGHM’s will retain its plans to join several other state-controlled companies to develop shale gas projects, although Wloch said KGHM stood to lose 65 million zlotys ($20.1 million) if they don’t pan out.

The miner expects the drilling results from the joint venture to indicate whether shale gas extraction is profitable in 2015.

KGHM, whose copper reserves in Poland may last another 30 to 40 years, may also be interested in developing lignite reserves in the southwest of the country, possibly with the country’s top power group PGE.

KGHM’s new strategy is scheduled to be discussed by its supervisory board on June 18.

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