Rio’s Oyu Tolgoi mine to start copper exports this morning

City A.M. Reporter
RIO TINTO will start exporting copper from the $6.2bn Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia today, the Mongolian government said, but it was not clear if the miner would be able to repatriate sales revenue from the mine.

The unlocking of ore shipments is key for Rio to secure a further $4bn in project funding for the expansion of the mine, which will significantly boost the Anglo-Australian miner’s copper portfolio and ease its dependence on iron ore.

Rio Tinto, operator of the mine, declined to comment, citing the number of false starts. First exports from the mine have been delayed twice since the initial planned date of 14 June. Metals traders have been closely watching whether Rio gets official approval to export concentrate from Oyu Tolgoi amid a shortfall in shipments from the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, run by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold.

Mongolia’s government wants the sales revenues to be deposited in local banks while Rio wanted to repatriate the earnings overseas.