Escondida tipped for sale in Rio cuts

Dec 11, 2008 | 12:33 PM | Anne Riley

Rio Tinto's 30-percent stake in Chile's Escondida Mine could be one cash-heavy asset headed for the chopping block as the miner looks to slice some $10 billion from its net debt by the end of 2009, analysts said.

"It's the easiest and most obvious (asset) where they can get money," one analyst said. "If they can get a decent price for it, it's going to get them a lot of what they need to get their debt down."

Although the company has not specifically mentioned Escondida in its list of assets being considered for sale, comments made to AMM by a Rio Tinto spokesman Thursday suggest that some of the company's more attractive projects may have been added to the list of potential sales.

"We are widening the scope of assets targeted for divestment to include some significant assets not previously highlighted for sale. We are in discussions with parties regarding further divestments or investment at the asset level, which may lead to additional capital entering the company or reduced capital expenditure commitments in the future," he said.....

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