As the slump in the mining industry enters its third year, deals are growing rarer. Consultants EY calculated that the number of transactions in the first three months of the year was down by half from a year ago and by a third from the previous quarter. By value, M&A was down 18% at US$5.9B.
The dearth of deals mirrors the focus among mining companies on slimming bloated portfolios and boosting productivity as lower metals prices squeeze profits.
However, major mining companies are once again at least entertaining the possibility of acquisitions. The state of readiness varies from company to company, depending how far cost-cutting has progressed. Some, like Anglo American (LSE: AAL) and Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX), are still trying to cut the flab, selling unwanted assets to pay off debt.