Rio Tinto, Fortescue hit pay dirt as prices surge – by Sarah Turner and Jenny Wiggins (Australian Financial Review – January 18, 2021)

https://www.afr.com/

Another stunning rally in iron ore prices is set to put a rocket under profits for the major iron ore producers, showering shareholders with dividends, shoring up the sharemarket and helping the government restore its pandemic-ravaged finances.

Last week, the spot iron ore price reached $US172.36 a tonne, up 1.3 per cent on the previous session according to Fastmarkets MB. Iron ore futures on the Singapore exchange traded at $US170.15 a tonne at the end of the week – the highest since their inception in 2013 – after rallying nearly 10 per cent since the start of the year.

William Curtayne, portfolio manager at Milford Asset Management, said that if iron ore prices were held at about $US165 a tonne there would be large-scale upgrades to the earnings expectations of the iron ore miners.

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Native Americans seek to stop Rio Tinto, BHP copper mine plan – by Nick Toscano (Sydney Morning Herald – January 13, 2021)

https://www.smh.com.au/

Australian mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP are facing fresh opposition from Native American groups over a plan to build an enormous copper mine in Arizona in the United States.

Apache Stronghold, a non-profit group, has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Phoenix to stop the US government from transferring a 980-hectare parcel of land at Oak Flat, Arizona, to the mining giants’ joint venture, Resolution Copper.

Resolution, which is 55 per cent owned by Rio Tinto and 45 per cent owned by rival BHP, says its proposed copper mine has the potential to supply nearly 25 per cent of US copper demand for 40 years.

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Rio Tinto looming talks with Mongolia to decide Oyu Tolgoi’s fate – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – January 15, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

The next three to six month will be crucial to the future of the vast Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia, as the companies behind the operation engage in talks to find a way to improve the government’s financial benefits from an ongoing underground expansion.

Based on a definitive estimate for the development of the new mine level, announced by Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) last month, the underground section of Oyu Tolgoi will begin production in October 2022. The project will cost $6.75 billion, about $1.4 billion higher than its original estimate, as established in the 2015 agreement.

That deal is commonly known in Mongolia as the “Dubai agreement”, because the nation’s then Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg struck it with former Rio Tinto’s boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques in a Dubai hotel, ending an impasse that had lasted close to three years.

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Rio Tinto, Quebec bet on critical mineral scandium with new plant – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – January 15, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Rio Tinto Group, with aid from the Quebec government, is investing a combined US$6-million to bring a new environmentally friendly scandium project into production, which will be the first steady North American source of the extremely pricey rare earth mineral.

Currently produced as a byproduct of mining other elements such as uranium and titanium, scandium is in tight supply worldwide. China and Russia dominate the market, leaving North American companies at the whim of unreliable and potentially hostile suppliers.

The silvery white metal is used as an alloy to strengthen and lighten aluminum, and in fuel cells as a backup power source.

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[Rio Tinto] The blast felt around the world – by Lynn Greiner and Carolyn Gruske (CIM Magazine – January 11, 2021)

https://magazine.cim.org/en/

Rio Tinto’s destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters sacred to the local Indigenous population in Australia’s Juukan Gorge during mine expansion, although legal, not only tarnished the company’s reputation and cost senior executives, including the CEO, their jobs, it triggered an inquiry in the Australian parliament and renewed focus on the nature of free, prior and informed consent.

The initial blasting and the reaction sent shockwaves through the international mining community, especially since there seemed to be a discrepancy between what the mining company considered to be consent to go ahead with the project and what the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people understood.

“We have operated on PKKP country under a comprehensive and mutually agreed Participation Agreement since 2011,” Rio Tinto wrote in a statement after the caves’ destruction. “At Juukan, in partnership with the PKKP, we followed a heritage approval process for more than 10 years.”

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Mongolia may revoke Rio Tinto’s plan for Oyu Tolgoi – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – January 11, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

The Government of Mongolia may cancel and replace the development and financial plan for the country’s vast Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, Canada’s Turquoise Hill (TSX, NYSE: TRQ) said on Monday.

The Rio Tinto-controlled company said Mongolian authorities are dissatisfied with the top miner’s plans. They are particularly concerned about the costs of the expansion, recently updated to $6.75 billion, about $1.5 billion higher than its original estimate.

Mongolia believes the significant cost increase has eroded the economic benefits it expected to receive from the Oyu Tolgoi mine, Turquoise Hill said.

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Rio TNT 2: Campaigners warn Mining giant which destroyed Aboriginal site is about to do same again to a sacred Native American tribe – by Francesca Washtell (Daily Mail/This Is Money – January 5, 2021)

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/

The new boss of Rio Tinto is under pressure to scrap controversial plans for a mine in Arizona that would destroy an area sacred to Native Americans.

Campaigners warn it could be a repeat of a scandal in Australia that threw the firm into crisis. Rio sparked global outrage after it blew up two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal caves in the Juukan Gorge to expand an iron ore mine in May last year.

Within months its chief executive, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, and two other top bosses had been forced to resign.

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Rio Tinto’s new CEO pledges to ‘restore trust’ after destruction of sacred Indigenous site – by Michelle Toh (CNN Business – December 17, 2020)

https://www.cnn.com/

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Rio Tinto (RIO) has found a new chief after a crisis this year led to the ouster of its top executive.

On Thursday, the mining giant named Chief Financial Officer Jakob Stausholm as CEO. Stausholm will assume the role on January 1, the same day outgoing CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques is slated to step down.

Jacques resigned under pressure from investors in September over the company’s destruction of a 46,000-year-old sacred Indigenous site in Australia. It demolished the Juukan Gorge caves in Western Australia in May to expand an iron ore mine.

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Rio’s $6.75bn Oyu Tolgoi expansion to kick off production in 2022 – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – December 16, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE:RIO) unveiled on Wednesday that underground production from the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia is slated to begin in October 2022, adding that it will come with a price tag of $6.75 billion.

When it was approved in 2015, Rio expected the expansion to cost $5.3 billion and reach first sustainable production in early of 2021.

Last year, however, the company flagged stability risks associated with the original project design, which translated into as much as an additional $1.9 billion cost. Expected production was then moved to between October 2022 and July 2023.

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Rio Should Make Restitution to Juukan Land Owners, Report Finds – by James Thornhill (Bloomberg News – December 9, 2020)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — Rio Tinto Group should to agree a restitution package with traditional landowners over mine blasts this year that badly damaged two ancient Aboriginal heritage sites, Australian legislators recommended in a sweeping report after four months of hearings into the incident.

The inquiry’s interim report called on Rio, and all other mining companies operating in Western Australia, to put on hold any applications under a controversial section of the state’s indigenous heritage law that gives companies with mining rights permission to damage a site.

It also advised that the state government replace the law with stronger protections. “Rio Tinto’s role in this tragedy is inexcusable,” the report said. “Rio knew the value of what they were destroying but blew it up anyway.”

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Rio Tinto Mongolia row worsens as US hedge fund issues legal threat – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – November 30, 2020)

https://www.ft.com/

Rio Tinto is facing a new front in an escalating dispute over how to finance its biggest project after a US hedge fund threatened the miner with legal action.

Pentwater Capital Management, which has a large minority stake in Rio-controlled Turquoise Hill Resources, said it was prepared to file an “oppression” order unless the company allowed the subsidiary to take on more debt to fund the $6.8bn underground expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.

“We do not undertake this lightly, but enough is enough,” Pentwater chief executive Matthew Halbower said in an open letter sent on Monday to Rio’s board of directors.

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End of an era: Argyle Mine officially closed – by Arabella Roden (Jeweller Magazine – November 11, 2020)

https://www.jewellermagazine.com/

The source of more than 90 per cent of the world’s pink diamonds, the Argyle Mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, has been permanently closed by owner Rio Tinto after more than 30 years of operation.

The mine’s last day of operation was 3 November, with employees and traditional owners of the land attending an event to mark the start of the closure process.

Rio Tinto estimates it will take five years to dismantle and decommission the Argyle site, which will be rehabilitated, monitored, and returned to traditional owners.

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Rio Tinto, Bluejay to jointly explore for nickel in Finland – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – November 10, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Explorer and developer Bluejay Mining (LON: JAY) inked on Tuesday a joint venture and earn-in agreement with Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) to advance the Enonkoski nickel project in Finland.

The deal could see Rio progressively earn up to a 75% interest in the project by injecting $20 million into Enonkoski, either by covering expenses or paying cash equivalent amounts, over three stages.

In the first phase, the world’s second-largest miner could secure 51% ownership by spending $5 million by November 2023. Of that total, Rio would have to spend $400,000 by the end of March 2021.

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Turquoise Hill takes Rio Tinto to arbitration over Mongolia mine funding – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – November 5, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Canada’s Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX, NYSE: TRQ) is taking Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) to arbitration over the mining giant’s role and obligations to support the company in securing additional funding for the vast Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold-silver mine in Mongolia.

Turquoise Hill said a special committee of its board, which approved the arbitration, concluded that Rio’s approach to the financing of the mine expansion was “incompatible with the company’s announced strategy to maximize debt and/or hybrid financing for the Oyu Tolgoi project so as to minimize the size, and defer the timing, of an equity rights offering (if any)”.

The Rio Tinto-controlled company and mine operator had expected the underground expansion to cost $5.3 billion when it was approved in 2015.

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Australia accepts human rights complaint against Rio Tinto over Bougainville – by Staff (Mining.com – November 4, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Australia’s Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) issued a statement saying that the residents of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea have welcomed this week’s decision by the Australian government to accept a human rights complaint against mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) for investigation and conciliation.

The complaint, which was filed by the HRLC on behalf of 156 Bougainville residents, alleges environmental and human rights violations caused by Rio Tinto’s former Panguna mine on the island.

The operation was run by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper (BCL) and was abandoned in the 1990s due to a civil war that was largely fought over how mine profits should be shared. Some 25 years later, in 2016, Rio handed its shareholding to national and local governments.

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