Arcelor Mittal (MT), the world's largest steel company, and Brazil's Vale (VALE), the world's largest iron ore producer, are among six companies angling to acquire a stake in Mongolia's Tavan Tolgoi mine, the world's largest untapped coking coal deposit.
Peabody Energy (BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer, is partnering with Chinese and Japanese firms to develop the west Tsankhi block of the mine. The block has 1.2 billion tons of coal reserves and could produce 15 million tons annually for more than 30 years, Reuters reported.
A South Korean bidder said it could take up to $7.3 billion in initial investments to mine the block, but that estimate was not confirmed by Mongolian authorities. Overall, the mine is believed to have 6 billion tons of coal reserves. Mongolian officials expect to make a decision on the block in late June.
Mongolia, which shares a border with China and is also home to vast copper deposits, could pass Australia as the world's largest coking coal producer this, Reuters reported.