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Rio Tinto discredits report it will stop work at Oyu Tolgoi

Keywords: Tags  Rio Tinto, copper, Oyu Tolgoi, Mongolia, Mark Burton

LONDON — The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia is on track to achieve commercial production in the first half of the year, Rio Tinto Plc said in response to a media report that it was considering halting work at the mine.

A Bloomberg report Jan. 30 claimed that Rio Tinto was considering halting development work to protest the Mongolian government’s demands for new mining royalties and a bigger stake in the $6.2-billion project.

"The power is secured, first ore produced and the concentrator switched on. We are on schedule for first commercial production in the first half of the year," a Rio Tinto spokesman said. "We continue to work together (with) all stakeholders, including the government of Mongolia, to bring the benefits of Oyu Tolgoi to all parties."

Through parliamentary petitions, Mongolian politicians have twice sought to boost the country’s 34-percent stake in the project, and in December the government published a new draft minerals law that caused heightened concern among miners and investors operating in the country.

Private equity firm Origo Partners was particularly concerned by a proposal for the effective tax rate for strategic deposits to exceed 50 percent, possibly to as much as 64 percent.

Origo told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin earlier in January that it would scale back its investment in the country if the mining law is passed in its current form, while the Business Council of Mongolia—of which Rio Tinto is a member—said that the draft law would damage Mongolia’s reputation as an investment destination.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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