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EBX Group

EBX Group
Based in Brazil
Active in Colombia, Chile, Brazil
Targeted base metals, coal, gold

EBX Group is the investment company controlled by Eike Batista, who’s been dubbed “the richest man in Brazil”.

By 2011, he was also said to be "the world of mining's richest man" [Mining.com 16 May 2012].

However, in May 2012, his oil and gas firm OGX – one of five public companies under Batista's control – saw a distinct decline in its wealth, with US$1,023,200,000 "disappearing" from Batista's personal fortune. Nonetheless, CCX, Batista’s coal unit announced the same month that it dishad covered a 672 million tonnes reserve at San Juan in Colombia, making it the fifth largest coal deposit in the world. CCX was listed separately on the Sao Paulo exchange on May 25 2012 [Mining.com ibid].

But, only a few weeks later,Forbes magazine reported that Batista's personal wealth had fallen by no less than US$11 billion since March that year - with the value of shares in OGX dropping by almost a third in just one day [MJ 29 June 2012].

Shortly afterwards, according to Bloomberg news service,Batista was "down to his last $20.7 billion as the six public companies he controls...are re-rated along with the rest of Brazil's stock market." Having "started the year as the world's seventh richest person...he has now dropped out of the the top 20" [ Bloomberg, quoted on Mining.com, 13 July 2012].

Despite this, said Bloomberg, Batista's "resolve remains unshaken" and "EBX has not cut back on its ambitious $15.7 billion expansion plans."

Batista enjoys some notoriety because of his all-too-public “private” life. He posed nude for several men’s magazines and has been exposed on the front cover of Brazilian Playboy no fewer than five times in recent years.

His net wealth in 2008 of US$ 7.5 billion doubtless helped bolster his image further - despite his being raided by police in July 2009 on suspicion of fraud over a railway contract, and tax evasion at a gold mine [MJ 31 July 2009].

That year, Batista sold some iron ore projects to Anglo American, through what was then his main mining asset, MMX, thus gaining himself US$5.5 billion.

(However, in July 2012, the Minas-Rio iron-ore project — then Anglo American’s largest — failed to meet expectations. Beset by legal challenges and ballooning costs, the project was slated to come online in 2013, after initially projected to start by 2010 [Bloomberg, cited by Mining.com, 13 July 2012]).

In November 2008, Batista acquired 9.5% of promising Colombia-focused, Canada-listed, Ventana Gold Corp (not to be confused with Vedanta Resources) for around Cdn$40 million. This he added to existing investments in Equinox Resources and Pan Silver.

Three years later, Batista's AUX gold and copper company (also active in Colombia) purchased Ventana Gold outright for US1.6 billion.

In June 2012, however, as his fortunes slid downwards, Batista sold a 49% stake in AUX (worth around US$2 billion) to "an undisclosed buyer" [MJ 29 June 2012].

The same month, German industrial group, ThyssenKrupp, confirmed that it was in talks with potential buyers of its stake in the CSA steel plant in Rio de Janeiro state; Brazilian mining giant Vale holds 26.9% of the CSA plant and Thyssenkrupp has 73.1% [Businessnews Americas, 4 June 2012].

Batista's EBX group was also said to be interested in acquiring ThyssenKrupp's stake in CSA - having already formed a Joint Venture with the German utility E.ON, to build power plants in Brazil.

In October 2012, Batista launched takeover offers for two Toronto-listed gold companies (Galway Resources and Calvista Gold Corp) which have properties close to the La Bodega/La Mascota deposit in Colombia, acquired by AUX when it took over Ventana Gold in 2011 [MJ 26 October 2012].

By mid-2013, Batista was being forced to further break up "his crumbling EBX Group industrial empire" to pay off debt. But, as Reuters pointed out, one of the assets he is expected to hold onto is a port development company, LLX Logística SA [Reuters 12 July 2013], based at Port of Açu north of Rio de Janeiro and intended to serve Brazil's oil industry [Reuters 12 July 2013].

Nonetheless, the project is "...being dogged by scientists' claims that its construction is polluting the surrounding lowlands ecosystem with salt... [and] some investors may not want exposure to a company facing possible ecological liabilities and potentially costly lawsuits.

"Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, an aggressive federal prosecutor, has already launched a case against the port to determine civil liability for alleged environmental damage... How much environmental damage has occurred is a matter of fierce debate. Officials for LLX and OSX Brasil SA - the EBX company building a shipyard at the port - deny that a "temporary" leak of salt-water into surrounding marshes in late 2012 caused lasting ecological harm to the delta of the Paraíba do Sul River, one of the last large, undeveloped coastal lowlands on Brazil's southeast coast.

"Yet scientists at Northern Rio de Janeiro-State University (UENF) in Campos de Goytacazes, a 40-minute drive from Açu, say there is growing evidence that the port's construction threatens a sensitive ecosystem. While the UENF researchers are careful to say they don't have conclusive proof of long-term damage, they say Açu's surrounding marshes, pastures, lagoons and fields, along with crops and cattle, face a serious threat New boundaries of Santurbán park deal a blow to mining in Colombia [Reuters ibid].

In March 2014,the Colombian government finally defined the borders of the ecologically senstive Santurbán páramo regional park in Santander department, making "the outlook...fairly negative for mining companies in the region, according to BusinessNews Americas [BusinessNews Americas 1 April 2014].

The environment ministry (Minambiente) decided to extend the limits of the park from 11,000ha to 42,000ha and several mining companies will be affected by the ban. AUX is among these - and Batista is reportedly tryimg sell its properties in the area [BusinessNews Americas ibid].

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