Australia’s Sandfire to see maiden dividend soon

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Sandfire Resources has seen a rapid expansion in the past few years to cement itself as a dominant player in the gold and copper space, now the Australian-based miner looks set to return cash to shareholders.

Speaking to CNBC at the annual Diggers and Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Managing Director Karl Simich – who oversaw the expansion of Sandfire's DeGrussa mine – says paying down debt is a priority, followed closely by a return of cash to shareholders.

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"In the position that we're in, it would be fair to say that our board – whilst hasn't made up a decision yet – is favorable to deploying our capital on a far greater base, which would include very seriously looking at paying a dividend this financial year" Simich told CNBC.

Sandfire's results will be due out later this month and follows a maiden profit of 88 million Australian dollars ($82 million) announcement to the market back in 2013. The company has reiterated its production guidance for fiscal 2014 of 65-75,000 metric tons of copper and 35-45,000 ounces of gold.

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Simich also raised the prospect of two of the group's biggest shareholders exiting their stakes in the company in the not too distant future.

South Korea's Posco holds 15 percent of Sandfire Resources while Australian listed copper producer Oz Minerals is its biggest shareholder with a 19 percent stake.

"When you look at Posco, they're in the iron ore or steel industry, so we're not their key asset. There have been talks and while we appreciate their support, we'd be quite happy if they divested their stake," Simich said.

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As for Oz Minerals, which was once touted as a possible takeover predator to the smaller Sandfire Resources, Simich told CNBC: "Oz Minerals has become a much smaller company over the last 5 or 6 years and I can't really see the strategy for them holding a stake in Sandfire anymore."