Ecuador Says BHP, Billionaire Rinehart Join Metals Chase – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – November 8, 2016)

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest miner, and billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty. are among commodity producers to have held talks over a potential entry into mining and exploration projects in Ecuador, according to the nation’s government.

Both producers had discussions with officials on the prospects of making investments or securing exploration leases, Mining Minister Javier Cordova Unda said Tuesday in an interview in Melbourne. Cordova has met with BHP personally, he said.

BHP has shown interest in a number of copper projects, including in a potential partnership with state-owned miner Enami and Chile’s Codelco in their joint Llurimagua copper and molybdenum project, Cordova said. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

Chairman Andrew Forrest has traveled to the nation in recent months and met with Ecuador Vice President Jorge Glas to discuss the Perth-based company’s exploration, Ambassador to Australia Raul Gangotena said.

BHP’s exploration program includes work in the Americas and the producer is seeking partnerships, the company said in an e-mailed statement, declining to comment on any specific discussions.

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