Japanese Double Down on Australian Iron Ore – Squire Patton Boggs Advises ITOCHU on Investment in Western Ridge

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Squire Patton Boggs has advised ITOCHU Corporation, via its subsidiary ITOCHU Iron Ore Australia Pty Ltd, in connection with the acquisition of a partial interest in the Western Ridge iron ore project owned by BHP, with transaction documents signed on 2 June 2021.

ITOCHU’s transaction is part of a side-by-side acquisition in Western Ridge entered into simultaneously by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Following completion of these acquisitions, ITOCHU and Mitsui will each own 8% and 7% (respectively) of the Western Ridge project, while BHP will retain an 85% interest.

Western Ridge is a major resource consisting of four vast iron ore deposits located in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Western Ridge is adjacent to the Mt Newman Processing Hub and Mine operated by the Mount Newman Joint Venture between ITOCHU, Mitsui and BHP. The acquisition of an interest in Western Ridge by ITOCHU and Mitsui will align the project with the existing interests of ITOCHU, Mitsui and BHP in BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore system. The acquisition is an exciting opportunity for ITOCHU to expand its carefully selected portfolio of highly competitive resource projects in Australia and throughout the world.

The Squire Patton Boggs team was jointly led by Perth Corporate partners Simon Rear and Chris Rosario, who were supported by associates Connor McClymont and Alix Poole. Director Charlotte Osborne and associate Mariko Hunt provided property, environment and approvals advice.

Simon Rear commented: “This is an outstanding investment by our valued client ITOCHU in light of the prevailing high prices for good-quality iron ore in the market. It was our honour to advise on this marquee transaction and we look forward to assisting ITOCHU going forward.” Chris Rosario remarked: “It was our pleasure to partner with our long-term client ITOCHU on another milestone transaction. We look forward to watching as Western Ridge is developed to become another successful investment by ITOCHU in the Australian iron ore sector.”

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