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BHP Billiton share price: Mining group buys into Ecuador copper project

BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) has secured an interest in a promising copper project in Ecuador, having agreed a deal for a stake in SolGold, the Anglo-Australian miner has revealed. Reuters reports that the move comes after the Sydney- and London-listed group missed an earlier attempt in 2016.

BHP Billiton’s share price has fallen into the red in today’s session, having given up 1.43 percent to 1,611.60p as of 08:38 BST. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.44 percent lower at 7,424.75 points. The group’s shares have added more than eight percent to their value over the past year, as compared with a near one-percent gain in the Footsie.

BHP buys into copper project

BHP Billiton announced in a statement that it had entered into an agreement with Guyana Goldfields to acquire its 6.1 percent interest in SolGold, the majority owner and operator of the Cascabel porphyry copper-gold project in Ecuador. The FTSE 100 group’s chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie commented that the investment would give the miner exposure to a high quality copper exploration project in Ecuador, which is a highly prospective location for BHP.

“It’s a pretty attractive asset. It’s early stage but the geology looks prospective,” a Melbourne-based analyst for a fund manager, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Analysts on blue-chip miner

Citigroup reaffirmed BHP as a ‘buy’ at the end of last month, without specifying a price target on the shares, while BMO Capital Markets continues to see the company as a ‘market perform,’ with a valuation of 1,800p. According to MarketBeat, the blue-chip group currently has a consensus ‘hold’ rating and an average price target of 1,726.19p.

As of 09:09 BST, Wednesday, 05 September, BHP Billiton plc share price is 1,614.60p.

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