Rio Tinto digs deeper into Mongolia – by Melanie Burton and Terrence Edwards (Reuters U.S. – January 22, 2018)

MELBOURNE/ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto will set up a new office in the Mongolian capital, separate from its giant Oyu Tolgoi project, to focus on exploration and local ties, strengthening its commitment to one of the world’s greatest copper prospects.

Mongolia’s proximity to neighbouring China, the world’s biggest copper consumer, has attracted interest from international prospectors as an anticipated leap in electric vehicle demand and renewable energy would increase consumption of a commodity that already has multiple uses.

But some investors are nervous about the unpredictability of Mongolia’s young democracy and Rio Tinto, which is operating an expansion project at the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, has had difficult negotiations with the government in the past.

The new office, which will expand to 80 staff over the course of this year, will support the company’s exploration programme, as well as focusing on building relationships, the miner said in a statement on Monday.

“We are demonstrating the deepening of our commitment to Mongolia through the establishment of a new country office under new Mongolian leadership,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said.

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