Marubeni Corp., a large Japanese diversified trading company, is in talks to buy a 10 to 12.5 percent stake in a huge iron mine owned by Australia's Hancock Prospecting, Dow Jones Newswire said Friday.
The deal would be worth around $1.05 billion to $1.58 billion and could be settled this month.
Australia's iron and coal exports fuel Asia's manufacturing industries, particularly those making ships, cars and houses, and North Asian firms have moved to take ownership stakes in iron resources.
Marubeni is seeking a stake in the Roy Hill mine, a joint venture between Hancock, which is owned by Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart, and South Korea's Posco, the world's third-largest steel maker.
Roy Hill is in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and has over 2.4 billion tons of low phosphorous iron ore. Hancock had invested over $105 million and taken 431,147 meters of drilling by the end of 2009, according to its website. Posco bought a 15 percent stake in the project in 2010.
Rinehart is in a legal battle with three children over control of Hancock, but the dispute shouldn't affect the Marubeni deal, sources told Dow Jones.