Rio Sees $5 Billion Copper Expansion on Track Amid Probe – by David Stringer and Tom Mackenzie (Bloomberg News – March 26, 2018)

Rio Tinto Group has yet to be contacted by Swiss authorities over a bribery investigation related to Mongolia’s giant Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine and the site’s $5.3 billion expansion remains on track, according to the producer’s top executive.

The attorney general of Switzerland is examining whether the world’s second-biggest mining company paid bribes in the development of the project, the Office of the Attorney General said last week by email. The office also opened criminal proceedings against a former Mongolian finance minister on suspicion of bribery and money laundering, it said.

London-based Rio, its Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. unit and other partners are advancing an expansion aimed at more than doubling output at Oyu Tolgoi, targeting an eventual rate of more than 500,000 metric tons of copper a year.

“We have had no contact whatsoever. We have not been engaged, either ourselves or Turquoise Hill, by the Swiss authorities,” Rio’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Beijing.

Reports have indicated the allegations relate to a period before Rio’s 2010 decision to take over management of the project and before it boosted its stake in the mine’s then-owner Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., Jacques said. “We shouldn’t forget it was a time when Rio Tinto had less than a 10 percent equity stake in what was called at the time Ivanhoe, which is now Turquoise Hill,” he said.

For the rest of this article: