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    DLA Piper advising on $375 million Dampier Salt deal

    DLA Piper has been retained as an advisor by Leichhardt Industrials Group on its $375 million acquisition of the Lake MacLeod Project from a subsidiary of mining behemoth Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO).

    The global law firm is advising on the deal and its associated financing in which Leichhardt will acquire the project near Carnarvon in Western Australia from Dampier Salt.

    Completion of the sale is conditional on certain commercial and regulatory conditions being satisfied, and this is expected to occur by the end of the year.

    Headquartered in Perth, Leichhardt is an independent and privately owned solar salt company, which currently owns the Eramurra Salt Project located near Karratha.

     

    Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Dampier Salt has 3 solar salt operations – Dampier, Port Hedland, and Lake MacLeod – which Rio says is the world’s largest exporter of seaborne salt with capacity to produce some 10.3 million tonnes every year.

    At the Lake MacLeod operations, Dampier Salt also mines and export gypsum to customers in Australia and Southeast Asia.

    DLA Piper Partner Matthew Watkins says the acquisition is a strategically important and transformative step for Leichhardt.

    “The Lake MacLeod Project complements Leichhardt’s existing Eramurra Solar Salt Project which is undergoing feasibility assessment and provides the platform for Leichhardt to become a significant salt producer in Western Australia.”

    “The Lake MacLeod Project complements Leichhardt’s existing Eramurra Solar Salt Project which is undergoing feasibility assessment and provides the platform for Leichhardt to become a significant salt producer in Western Australia”

    DLA Piper Partner Owen Alcorn notes the firm has helped structure, negotiate, and implement a bespoke financing solution to support the execution of the transaction.

    Rio Tinto’s Managing Director Port, Rail & Core Services, Richard Cohen says the sale of Lake MacLeod will enable Dampier Salt to focus on enhancing operational efficiencies at its remaining 2 Pilbara operations, while allowing the new owner of Lake MacLeod to maximise its potential.

    “We are pleased Leichhardt has committed to retaining all Lake MacLeod employees, ensuring continuity of operation and providing job stability to the 130-strong workforce.”

    Dampier Salt is joint venture between Rio Tinto with 68% ownership, Marubeni Corporation (TYO:8002) with 22%, and Sojitz (TYO:2768) with 10%.

    All 3 of the sites at Dampier Salt are recognised as being important to biodiversity, according to Rio Tinto. Dampier, Port Hedland, and the northern part of Lake Macleod are designated Key Biodiversity Areas by BirdLife Australia due to globally important numbers of shorebirds which live at or visit the sites on their migratory journeys from the Northern Hemisphere, including the threatened great sand plover and the small, red-necked stint.

    The different salinity of each pond increases the diversity of invertebrates living in the mud, providing shorebirds with an array of food options. Biodiversity also extends to the local plant life – Lake Macleod has one of the largest inland areas of grey mangroves in the world.

    Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

    Images: Rio Tinto
    Adam Orlando
    Adam Orlando
    stocks.com.au Senior Reporter Adam Orlando more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris. Adam has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.