Rio Tinto’s La
Escondida copper
mine in Chile
 
Palabora, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 05 November 2008 – The Rio Tinto Group – the world’s second-largest producer of iron ore and aluminum – expects to maintain investment in African mining exploration in anticipation of a recovery in global economies, after increasing spending in the first half of the year.

Mentioning this in an interview with Bloomberg News here, Jonte Beswick – the company’s exploration manager for Southern Africa – admitted that Rio Tinto was reviewing its spending timetable and project costs.

The world’s biggest aluminum producer, United Co. Rusal, and Cia Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s largest iron-ore maker, are also reigning in spending as commodity prices plunge and economies slow worldwide.

“We’re reviewing our spending as part of the programme Rio has announced, but we don’t think that we will reduce our exploration spend next year,” said Beswick. “These are long-term projects, so we need to be doing the work now.”

Rio boosted expenditure on African exploration by 31% to US$101 million (almost R1.6 billion) in the first half from a year earlier. “This represents 16% of the company’s total exploration budget, up from 13% a year earlier,” he said.

‘What is changing in Africa is we’re getting better access to the prospects,” Beswick added. “Our policy is to explore right through the cycle.”’

Bloomberg reports that the London-based mining company is active in 10 African countries, and continues to search for deposits in a further nine, including Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mauritania and Guinea. Rio is seeking such minerals and fuels as iron ore, coking coal, copper, diamonds, bauxite and mineral sands.