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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Mount Isa Finance N.V. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Mount Isa Finance N.V.

List of Deals

Mount Isa Finance was incorporated in 1971 to provide funding for its parent company, MIM Holdings, an Australian mining company incorporated in 1970. At that point, MIM Holdings purchased all of the shares of Mount Isa Mines, Limited, a mineral mining company incorporated in Queensland, Australia, in 1931.

John Campbell Miles discovered ore containing silver, lead, and zinc at Mount Isa in Queensland in 1923. Miles was the son of a gold prospector, and he found the mineral deposits while riding alone through the dusty Australian countryside. The Mount Isa mine was located near the failed minefields of Cloncurry, which yielded little when they were explored in the late nineteenth century. The Mount Isa fields are the richest minefields known in Australia.

Two investors, William Corbould and Douglas MacGillivray, immediately bought Miles and his associates’ stake in the new mine for £7,000. Corbould and MacGillivray organized Mount Isa Mines Limited in 1924 and sold £50,000 in shares to fund the purchase. The town of Mount Isa quickly grew up beside the mine.

During the 1930s Mount Isa Mines struggled for financing due to inefficient machines, heavy debt, overestimated profits, and a global depression, but the company remained in operation. Mount Isa Mines began mining copper from the site in 1943. High lead prices in the late 1940s made the company profitable.

In the early 1950s Mount Isa Mines became the largest mining company in Australia. Near the site, prospectors discovered Cretaceous period fossils as well as uranium ores. In the 1950s and 1960s the Mount Isa Mines became one of the world’s largest producers of silver, lead, and zinc.

MIM Holdings was incorporated in 1970 as a holding company that controlled Mount Isa Mines and a few other companies. At the time of the 1970 Mount Isa Finance deal, 53 percent of MIM holdings were controlled by American Smelting and Refining Company (Asarco), a copper and lead refiner. MIM Holdings sales and income were $88.3 million in 1967 and reached $208.4 million in 1971.

Mount Isa Finance N.V. was created in 1971 as a wholly owned subsidiary of MIM Holdings. Mount Isa Finance was organized in the Netherlands Antilles to issue debentures to finance MIM Holdings projects. The debentures were sold only outside of the United States, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands Antilles.

Mount Isa Finance and MIM Holdings were bought by Xstrata, another mining concern, in 2003.

Note: For a more complete history of Mount Isa Mines, see Geoffrey Blainey, Mines in the Spinifex: The Story of Mount Isa Mines (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1960).

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