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mdv_92126 1 post  |  Last Activity: Nov 11, 2014 10:34 AM Member since: Aug 26, 2000
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  • Rio Tinto Group (RIO) sees a change of leadership in Mongolia as potentially positive for the stalled $5.4 billion expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi project, while leaving open the prospect for another writedown at the mine.

    The ouster of former Prime Minister Altankhuyag Norov last week comes as London-based Rio and Mongolia’s government continue negotiations on disputes around taxes and costs that have held up progress for more than 18 months on an underground extension to the copper and gold mine -- Mongolia’s single-biggest foreign investment.

    “I’m hoping it will be a positive sign,” Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh said today in Beijing, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. “Certainly there are a lot of things that are indicating that people want the project to proceed.”

    VIDEO: Rio Tinto CEO on Mongolia Project, Diamond Business
    Commitments from lenders for $4.2 billion needed to help fund the development expired after a Sept. 30 deadline to reach an agreement was missed, Rio-controlled unit Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. said last month in a statement. The company wrote down the value of the mine by $4.7 billion in March.

    Oyu Tolgoi, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Chinese border, will contribute about a third of Mongolia’s economy when in full operation and will be the world’s third-biggest copper mine, according to Turquoise Hill.

    Rio may need to consider a writedown of the mine if delays to the expansion continue, according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. The project had a book value of $4.96 billion at the end of June, Rio said in an August filing.

    VIDEO: Mongolia Faces Political Uncertainty After PM Ousted
    “Time will tell with that and standing here today, and not actually understanding how quickly we may move to getting the project approved, that’s not possible for me to say,” Walsh said on the prospects of an impairment.

    Sentiment: Strong Buy

26.28+0.23(+0.88%)Dec 24 1:00 PMEST

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