* Glencore receives interest from potential buyers
* Asset sales part of plan to cut debt
* FACTBOX of Glencore assets:
* Graphic of assets map: link.reuters.com/vej75w (Adds more details, analyst comment, shares)
By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Sonali Paul
LONDON/MELBOURNE, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Glencore plans to sell copper mines in Australia and Chile as the mining and trading company aims to reduce a debt burden accumulated in an asset buying spree that has shaken confidence in the Swiss-based firm.
Selling assets is one element of a broad plan to cut about a third of Glencore’s $30 billion net debt and to regain the trust of investors after its shares tumbled to record lows this year amid weak global commodity prices.
Glencore said it would sell its wholly-owned Cobar copper mine in Australia and Lomas Bayas copper mine in Chile after receiving interest from potential buyers.
“This will allow potential buyers to bid to purchase either one or both of the mines and may or may not result in a sale,” Glencore said in a statement on Monday.
A London-based analyst said the Cobar and Lomas Bayas mines together could fetch less than $300 million as they are very small.
Cobar produces about 50,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate per annum, while the Lomas Bayas mine’s annual output is about 75,000 tonnes of copper cathode.
“When you’ve got $50 billion in gross debt, it doesn’t move the needle. But it’s just another reminder that everything’s potentially for sale at the right price,” the analyst said.
Glencore has also pledged to cut capital expenditure, suspend dividend payments and raise $2.5 billion of new equity capital, with the share sale completed last month.
Glencore declined to say who had approached it with expressions of interest in the copper mines.
A source close to Glencore said if the sale the copper mines was to go ahead, it would be on top of the $2 billion the company plans to reap by selling a minority stake in its agricultural business and also the rights to precious metals extracted from its copper and zinc mines.
Glencore shares, which have dropped 56 percent this year, were down around 3 percent at 125 pence as of 0805 GMT.
To shore up commodity markets, the company has cut production of copper, coal and zinc. Last Friday, zinc on the London Metal Exchange rose 10 percent after Glencore said it would slash its output by a third.
Glencore said last month its business remained operationally and financially robust and it was confident in the medium and long-term fundamentals of its commodities. (Editing by Louise Heavens and Keith Weir)