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Noble Group

Noble Group
Based in Hong Kong
Active in Mongolia, South Africa, Australia, Jamaica, Indonesia, globally
Targeted base metals, coal, energy fuels

Noble Group is a major Australian enterprise, headquartered in Hong Kong, that has become Asia's largest commodities trading firm, spanning ownership of land; the growing of foodstuffs (it exports Indonesian cocoa); the mining and processing of metals and minerals; and the transporting and selling of these on global markets.

Noble describes its strategy on its website as "asset light". It develops and then sells assets to recycle capital.

It has stakes in various mining companies, including Resource Generation, which is listed on the JSE as well as the ASX.

In 2009, 59% of the group's revenue (US$ 18 billion) derived from "energy" - including coke and coal. Although its largest mines are situated in Australia, Noble owns PT Sangha Coal Indonesia (with share capital worth Rp 18,240,000,000 in 2010) [Noble Group website accessed 29/7/2010]. Sangha's Morris2 mine in East Kalimantan exports coal to Eastern Europe, China and Japan.

In 2010, Noble tussled with Peabody Coal for control of Australia's Gloucester Coal Ltd, in which it had acquired 27.1% by May 2009 [MJ 8 May 2009]- raised to 87.7% the following year [MJ 25 June 2010 - see also MJ 9 April 2010].

Its subsidiary, Noble Resources Ltd, in October 2009 took over debts owed by Australia’s Territory Resources Ltd, to the tune of US$ 15.6 million [MJ 9 October 2009]. The same month, a 60%-owned subsidiary of Noble, Africa Commodities Group (ACG), along with the Bravura Group, made an offer to take over just a smidgeon short of 50% of Sentula Mining Ltd’s coal mine in South Africa [MJ 16 October 2009].

In 2010, Noble partnered with Australia's Xanadu Mines, which is exploring for minerals in Mongolia.

Then, in November 2011, Noble Group formed an alliance with Australia's Aspire Mining (in which it has an 8.3% interest): this gave Noble marketing rights to at least half the first five million tonnes of coking coal produced at Aspire's Ovoot mining project in Mongolia [Reuters, 1 December 2011].

Just under a year later, in October 2012, Arrium Ltd - an Australian steel and iron ore producer - rebuffed an Aus$1.01 billion takeover offer from Noble Group Ltd, joined by some Korean investors, saying it was too low [Bloomberg 4 October 2012].

In August 2013, Noble engineered something of a coup, which angered Glencore to the extent that the huge London-Swiss trader sued the Jamaican state-own firm Clarendon Aluminium Production (CAP) for breach of contract.

CAP was accused of signing an agreement with Noble, to provide Glencore's Hong-Kong based rival with aluminium in defiance of what Glencore called "decades of trades". According to, the Noble-CAP deal opens the way for Noble to acquire ownership of CAP itself and that company's stake in the Jamaican bauxite and alumina producer, Jinalco [ 8 August 2013].

In October 2013, Mick Davis, former head of leading UK-listed mining company, Xstrata (now merged into Glencore) , "opened its doors" to his new mining ofit, X2 Resources [Financial Mail, 10 October 2013]. He did so with backing - to the tune of US$ 1 billion from the major diviersified private equity firm, TPG (See: TPG-Axon Capital Management LP) and from the Noble Group.

Commented the Financial Mail at the time: "It [is] unlikely that X2 Resources is going to list soon on any significant stock exchange. [The investment by TPG and Noble] is still not enough for X2 Resources to make good second-tier acquisitions. Deals are likely to start flowing only once more money has been raised and the due diligence investigations are done... X2 Resources is going to be looking across all geographies and commodities for projects that are close to production, or that can reach potential with the injection of the necessary skills and capital"

The newspaper added: "[It is possible]is that X2 Resources might consider buying platinum and ferrochrome assets that 'Glencore Xstrata may consider noncore as CE Ivan Glasenberg reshapes the post-merger portfolio" Financial Mail ibid].

Commening on its investment in X2 Resources, the group's CEO said "The investment is consistent with our strategy of focusing primarily on our core competence as a supply chain manager." [Financial Mail ibid].