Rio Tinto talks up lithium M&A; investors hunt for targets – by Anthony Macdonald, Sarah Thompson and Kanika Sood (Australian Financial Review – December 14, 2022)

It’s Rio Tinto’s turn to pull out the chequebook and summon a beauty parade, after BHP’s move on OZ Minerals. The big miner broke tradition this week when it took analysts through its technical backroom in Melbourne’s Bundoora and, in particular, talked up its lithium ambitions.

Knowing Rio’s on the prowl with its $15 billion cash wad (and more coming thanks to its huge free cash flow, with analysts tipping close to $US20 billion this year), resources investors and executives spent Wednesday trying different companies for a fit.

The first names to pop up in conversations as Rio’s potential targets were quickly discarded.

Mineral Resources might have got a look if its lithium assets were already separate to its iron ore arm (something MinRes has considered), they reckoned. And Liontown’s Kathleen Valley is big, but underground, and may not hold its attraction to Rio if lithium prices dropped.

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