Archive | Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto puts its faith in driverless trucks, trains and drilling rigs (The Economist – December 7, 2017)

FOR millennia, man has broken rocks. Whether with pickaxe or dynamite, their own or animal muscle, in a digger or a diesel truck, thick-necked miners have been at the centre of an industry that supplies the raw materials for almost all industrial activity.

Making mining more profitable has long involved squeezing out more tonnes of metal per ounce of brawn. Now robots, not man, are settling themselves into the driving seat.

Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining firms, is leading that transformation in its vast iron-ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is putting its faith in driverless trucks and unmanned drilling rigs and trains, overseeing them from the office equivalent of armchairs about 1,000km (625 miles) south, in Perth. Continue Reading →

Massive Oyu Tolgoi mine to more than double gold production in 2018 – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – December 7, 2017)

Rio Tinto-controlled Turquoise Hill (TSX:TRQ) is expecting its majority-owned Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia to churn in 2018 more than double the amount of the precious metal forecast for this year, with operating costs dropping about 2.8%.

In an update that went almost unnoticed, the Canadian miner said earlier this week it expected the massive Mongolian mine to produce 240,000 to 280,000 ounces of gold concentrate next year, more than double the 100,000 to 140,000 ounces initially expected for 2017.

The Vancouver-based company also forecast the mine to generate 125,000 to 155,000 tonnes of copper in 2018, slightly less than the 130,000 to 160,000 tonnes predicted for this year. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Indonesia’s Freeport-Rio plan masks longer-term issues – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – December 7, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 7 (Reuters) – A proposed three-way deal between the Indonesian government, Rio Tinto and Freeport-McMoRan to clean up the ownership of the giant Grasberg copper-gold mine looks like one of those rare situations where everybody wins.

Except that it isn‘t. Certainly all parties may walk away feeling that they have achieved the best outcome, assuming the complicated deal can be pulled off at a price acceptable to all three.

But this ignores the wider picture in which any short-term advantage is likely to be offset by compounding longer-term problems. First, a brief re-cap of what’s at stake. Grasberg is the world’s second-largest copper mine, as well as being one of the five-biggest gold mines, and is further advantaged by having high grades and low costs. Continue Reading →

Indonesia plans to buy out Rio’s share of Grasberg copper mine – by Wilda Asmarini and Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.K. – December 5, 2017)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia plans to acquire Rio Tinto’s 40 percent participating stake in the Grasberg copper mine operated by the local division of Freeport-McMoRan Inc, part of government plans to control more of the country’s resources.

Under a joint venture formed in 1996, Rio has a 40 percent interest in Freeport’s Grasberg contract, entitling it to 40 percent of production above specific levels until 2021 and 40 percent of all production after 2022. Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport said in August it would divest 51 percent of PT Freeport Indonesia to the Indonesian government, to meet local ownership rules.

Indonesia plans to complete the acquisition of Rio’s interest in the mine in 2018, as part of a purchase of a 51 percent stake in Freeport Indonesia by the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and other government units, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Tuesday. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto Will Appoint Simon Thompson as New Chairman – by David Stringer and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – December 3, 2017)

Rio Tinto Group named industry veteran Simon Thompson as chairman after shareholders rejected a plan to install a renowned dealmaker — reinforcing an industry-wide investor drive for higher returns and caution over project spending.

Thompson, 58, a Rio director since 2014 and previously an executive director at Anglo American Plc, will succeed Jan du Plessis from March 5, London-based Rio said Monday in a statement. Du Plessis, who’s held the post since 2009, is stepping down after taking up the same position at BT Group Plc.

The mining sector is under pressure from big investors and hedge funds to keep a tight grip on capital spending and boost shareholder returns as earnings rise, following a failed mergers and acquisitions spree sparked by the commodity boom around the turn of the decade. Continue Reading →

Mick Davis out of the running for Rio Tinto chairman role – by Tony Wilson (Australian Financial Review/Bloomberg – November 28, 2017)

Mick Davis isn’t being considered for the chairman job at Rio Tinto Group after shareholders revolted against his candidacy.

While Mr Davis was previously a leading candidate, he’s not in the running any longer, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Michael Oke, a spokesman for Davis, declined to comment.

The company’s decision was likely influenced by a letter last week sent from shareholders with about 20 per cent of Rio’s UK shares saying the person in the running for chairman was “unacceptable.” While the letter doesn’t name Mr Davis, he was cited by news agencies including Bloomberg as the frontrunner. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto Isn’t Tesla; It Should Hold Fire On a Lithium Bet – by Nathaniel Taplin (Wall Street Journal – November 24, 2017)

Mining is an industry of big upfront investments and long periods of pain or gain, depending on whether the digger bets right or wrong.

It’s understandable, therefore, that Rio Tinto’s reported interest in acquiring a big stake in Chilean lithium-miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera is causing butterflies in the stomachs of some investors.

The miner’s interest in lithium makes sense strategically. Rio is more heavily dependent on iron ore than some of its competitors, and slowdown in Chinese demand seems likely. Boosting their exposure to lithium, a battery component and probable linchpin of an increasingly renewable and electric future, isn’t a bad idea. The problem is price. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto’s M&A Madness – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – November 20, 2017)

Some companies are good at takeovers. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett has used well over a hundred acquisitions over decades to help leverage $1,200 of savings from his newspaper round into one of the world’s largest business empires.

Rio Tinto Group isn’t one of those companies. Indeed, it’s hard to find an acquisition since its 2000 takeover of Australian iron ore miner North Ltd. that’s not been a top-of-the-market catastrophe.

That should make investors nervous about the prospect that a big new lithium deal could be forthcoming. Rio Tinto is working with advisers on a bid for a stake in Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, people familiar with the matter told Jack Farchy, Dinesh Nair and Thomas Biesheuvel of Bloomberg News on Friday. Continue Reading →

Mining’s $45 Million Man Eyes an Earth-Shattering Return – by Chris Hughes (Bloomberg News – November 14, 2017)

The shortlist for the next chair of Rio Tinto Plc will incense the corporate governance crowd. At the top is Mick Davis, former CEO of Xstrata Plc. His association with high boardroom pay makes him a divisive candidate.

Davis drew criticism at Xstrata for remuneration well above industry norms. The attacks came to a head when he was offered a $45 million retention plan to stay with the company after a proposed merger with Glencore Plc in 2012.

Shareholders later resoundingly vetoed the package, and embarrassed Xstrata’s board by pushing for more generous financial terms. The deal had to be recast as a takeover by Glencore. Continue Reading →

How Rio Tinto chief Jean-Sébastien Jacques learnt the power of social media – by Pilita Clark (Australian Financial Review – November 13, 2017)

Of all the chief executives at a FTSE 100 company, the one I am coming to know best is Jean-Sébastien Jacques, the 46-year-old Frenchman appointed to run the Rio Tinto mining group last year.

Mr Jacques has lived in London for more than a decade and was “insanely happy” when he became a British citizen in 2013. He loves rugby. He travels constantly. His wife nicks his socks and he lives around the corner from a French bakery selling bread as good as any you can get in Paris.

I learnt all this from French Yummy Mummy, a blog by a gabby London-based Parisian engineer named Muriel Demarcus who is, I recently discovered, also Mr Jacques’ wife. Continue Reading →

One of the World’s Biggest Miners Is About to Go Coal-Free – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – November 10, 2017)

Just five years ago it would have been almost unthinkable that one of the world’s biggest mining companies would not dig any coal. It’s now likely to become a reality.

Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest miner, has been steadily backtracking from coal to focus on better assets. It’s now looking for buyers for its remaining coal mines in Australia, and a sale will mark a complete exit from the fuel.

Rio’s potential coal-free future is in stark contrast with many of its rivals. Glencore Plc, the world’s top coal shipper, this year increased its exposure by agreeing to pay $1.1 billion plus royalties for a large stake in Australian assets sold by Rio. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto joins race for stake in world’s largest lithium miner – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – November 8, 2017)

Canada’s PotashCorp must sell its interest in Chile’s SQM within 18 months of merging with Agrium, and Rio wants it.

Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) is said to be weighing an investment in Chile’s Chemical and Mining Society (SQM), the world’s largest lithium producer, becoming the latest in a long line of companies interested in grabbing a stake in the Santiago-based miner.

According to Chilean news site El Mostrador (in Spanish), the Anglo-Australian giant is eying the 32% interest in SQM that Canada’s Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX, NYSE:POT), the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer by capacity, has to sale to be allowed to merge with smaller rival Agrium (TSX, NYSE:AGU).

The Saskatoon-based potash miner is working with Goldman Sachs and BofA Merrill Lynch to sell its stake in SQM (worth about $4.5 billion at current market values), and so fulfill some of the conditions imposed by regulators in China and India to approve the company’s friendly merger with Agrium. Continue Reading →

LMEWEEK-Rio Tinto throws its weight behind Africa as mining central – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – November 1, 2017)

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Africa, as the largest untapped source of growth in the mining sector, is pivotal in helping Rio Tinto and other resources companies to supply the changing needs of the huge Asian market, a senior company official said on Wednesday.

The comments, delivered at a Bloomberg forum as part of LME Week, is a vote of confidence in Africa, which has suffered from investor caution over political risk and corruption scandals.

“From a mining perspective, Africa is the largest untapped source of growth for our industry,” Bold Baatar, Rio Tinto’s chief executive of energy and minerals, said, according to a copy of his speech. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto says it paid $38M in royalties to N.W.T., but gov’t can’t confirm – by Walter Strong (CBC News North – November 2, 2017)

Rio Tinto is disputing a claim in a recent mining report that it paid no royalties in the N.W.T.

If the government of the Northwest Territories wanted to attract attention to its mining policy review in advance of the territory’s new Mineral Resources Act, it did a good job.

A report, posted to a territorial government website in October, paints the disturbing picture of a royalty and taxation regime that lets mining companies get away with paying little in mining royalties and taxes, at least compared to some other jurisdictions in the world.

Rio Tinto, a 60 per cent owner of the Diavik diamond mine was singled out in the report for not — according to the report — paying any royalties for diamond production at the mine in 2015. The company has since disputed that claim. Continue Reading →

U.S. law firm files class suit against Rio Tinto over Mozambique coal – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – October 23, 2017)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A U.S. law firm has filed a class action suit against mining giant Rio Tinto, which is facing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fraud charges stemming from an ill-fated investment in Mozambique coal mining.

Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP said in a statement released in Australia on Tuesday it filed the suit on behalf of purchasers of Rio Tinto American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) between Oct. 23, 2012 and Feb. 15, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The law firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Rio Tinto declined to comment on the filing, the first publicly announced class action suit involving the coal asset. Continue Reading →