Mining Veteran Mick Davis Joins SPAC Craze for Green Metals Push

Mick Davis, the mining veteran who built one of the world’s biggest coal producers, has accelerated his move into green metals with the launch of a $300 million special purpose acquisition company.

Davis, who built Xstrata Plc into a $50 billion commodities powerhouse before its merger with Glencore Plc, last month announced a new investment firm to bring on supplies of battery minerals. Davis’s Vision Blue Resources co-sponsored ESM Acquisition Corp. in the U.S. last week with The Energy & Minerals Group.

SPACs are blank-check companies that have no other business than to raise money in a listing and use that to acquire a assets within two years. They’ve boomed this year, leading to a record first quarter for initial public offerings.

“ESM’s strategy is to identify and complete an initial business combination with a target that can benefit from its leadership team’s significant experience in the natural resources industry,” Vision Blue said in a statement Monday. “ESM intends to focus on a target business that is positioned to benefit from the global transition towards a low-carbon economy.”

With electric-vehicle sales expected to surge in the coming years, Vision Blue has said it expects the mining industry to fall short in the hunt to bring new supplies of battery minerals to the market.

Vision Blue also said Monday that it had bought a $11.5 million stake in Ferro-Alloy Resources Ltd., a vanadium project developer of which Davis will become chairman. Vision Blue had already acquired a stake in a project in Madagascar supplying graphite for use in electric-vehicle batteries.

Davis Comeback

Davis helmed Xstrata through the boom years of the commodities supercycle, reaping huge profits from a portfolio of assets producing copper, coal and zinc. Xstrata was bought by Glencore in 2013, and Davis was poised to lead the combined company, but shareholders revolted over his pay package. Instead, Ivan Glasenberg took charge.

After struggling to re-establish himself during a downswing in commodities markets, Davis, nicknamed Mick the Miner, stepped back into the industry in 2019 with a plan to develop a huge iron ore deposit in Guinea.

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