Mining giant BHP offers to buy Canada's Noront Resources for $258 mln

A tonne of nickel powder made by BHP Group sits in a warehouse at its Nickel West division, south of Perth, Australia August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Melanie Burton

July 27 (Reuters) - BHP Group (BHP.AX) has made a C$325 million ($258.45 million) approach for Noront Resources (NOT.V), rivaling an offer from Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest's Wyloo Metals for the Canadian nickel-copper miner.

The scramble for Noront underscores the race to secure supplies of battery metals among miners ahead of an expected surge in demand due to the rise of electric vehicles.

Noront owns the early-stage Eagle's Nest deposit, billed by Wyloo as the largest high-grade nickel discovery in Canada since the Voisey's Bay nickel find in the eastern province of Newfoundland and Labrador, with an initial mine life of 11 years.

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BHP said on Tuesday its offer valued Noront at C$0.55 per share, representing a premium of 129% to the firm's closing price on May 21, a day before Wyloo unveiled its proposal.

"For BHP, the acquisition of Noront presents a world-class growth option, in a key future-facing commodity," BHP Chief Development Officer, Johan van Jaarsveld, said in a statement.

Noront said its board has recommended the Anglo-Australian company's offer.

Wyloo Metals, which is Noront's top shareholder with a 23% stake as of December, had in May offered C$0.315 per share for the stock it did not already hold in the company. Noront had adopted a poison pill to stop the takeover.

Wyloo was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

BHP's offer also comes after the mining giant moved its exploration headquarters to Canada and said it would almost double exploration spending for base metals within five years.

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Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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