Kores has appointed Citigroup to lead the sale, which comes at the same time that the company is preparing to divest its stake and offtake rights in Cobre Panama, the world’s newest greenfield copper mine.

Citi declined to comment when contacted by Fastmarkets. Kores and Capstone did not respond to requests for comment.

Santo Domingo - which has a $1.51 billion valuation, according to 70% owners Capstone Mining Corp - is a copper-iron project located in Chile’s Antofagasta region. Capstone paid C$725 million ($755 million) to acquire Santo Domingo owner Far West Mining in 2011, with Kores acquiring a 30% interest for C$210 million.

In that year, the London Metal Exchange cash copper price averaged $8,810 per tonne compared with an average price of $6,163 per tonne in January-June this year.

Still, with spot copper concentrates treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) in decline, most recently at $52.40 per tonne / 5.24 cents per lb, major miners are on the hunt for well-priced projects with the aim of cranking up production by the time the market hits deficit levels.

Fastmarkets analysts forecast a refined copper deficit of 308,000 tonnes in 2020, up from a 185,000 tonne deficit in 2019.

“There’s more M&A activity to happen in the industry, especially for copper,” one informed source said.

Santo Domingo is expected to be ready for construction in 2020 and will produce 60,500 tonnes per year of copper in its 18 year life, according to the Capstone website.

Capstone announced last November that it was beginning a strategic process for the project, exploring “several alternatives, including selling a portion of the project,” adding that it was committed to advancing the project.