Rio Holds Talks With Indonesia About Exit from Giant Mine – by Brett Foley and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – October 20, 2017)

Rio Tinto Group has held talks with Indonesian groups, including state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, about a possible exit from its interest in the giant Grasberg copper and gold operation, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Executives at Rio held meetings in recent weeks, including in Indonesia, on a potential sale of its income stream asset that’s part of the joint venture agreement with Grasberg’s operator Freeport-McMoRan Inc., said the people, asking not to be identified as details are private.

Rio is studying a range of options that could enable it to sell on its interest, the people said. There’s no guarantee that the talks will advance, or that any deal will eventuate, the people said.

The company declined to comment in an emailed statement and Freeport didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Hadiyanto, secretary general at Indonesia’s Finance Ministry, didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comments.

Talks have taken place while Indonesia is at loggerheads with Freeport over the government’s proposals to increase local ownership in Grasberg to 51 percent.

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