London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 05 August 2005 – Rio Tinto – the London and New York-listed international mining group headquartered in the United Kingdom – has announced an investment of US$652 million (R4.9 billion) to support continued pre-feasibility studies on a large, tier-one copper deposit at its Resolution copper operation in the American state of Arizona.
In a media release issued here, the company revealed that pre-feasibility studies were expected to be completed by 2012, with production at the new mine expected to start by 2020, eventually ramping up to 500 000 tpa of copper.
Rio Tinto is a significant global copper producer with high quality assets and an interest in four of the world’s ten largest undeveloped copper deposits, including Resolution. In 2007, copper was the biggest contributor to Rio Tinto with underlying earnings of US$3.5 billion (R26 billion).
“Rio Tinto’s copper operations are well positioned to take advantage of strong global demand, driven by continued growth in China and other emerging economies,” said Rio Tinto Copper chief executive Bret Clayton. “Resolution is an exciting prospect with an expected long mine life.”
Resolution Copper announced in May that it had completed sufficient drilling to report an inferred resource of 1.34 billion tonnes containing 1.51% copper and 0.040% molybdenum. Pre-feasibility work scheduled over the next four years includes: dewatering a former mine site and sinking an exploratory shaft to 2 170m below the surface, as well as preparing numerous studies to evaluate technical, legal and environmental issues, and to prepare a mining plan. The plan will include an examination of geo-hydrology, transportation and infrastructure needs, and will confirm the best approach to constructing the proposed underground mine.
The total cost to complete studies of the deposit, determine the safest and most efficient mine development approach and evaluate all associated costs will be about US1 billion (R7.5 billion).
Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) is a limited liability company 55%-owned by Rio Tinto plc subsidiary Resolution Copper Company, and 45%-owned by BHP Copper, Inc., a BHP-Billiton plc subsidiary.