Resolution Copper project, United States

Projects

Mutamba non-managed operation

Mutamba

Inhambane, Mozambique

Product: Ilmenite


A large undeveloped mineral sands deposit in Inhambane, Mozambique, could be a valuable source of ilmenite.

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A large undeveloped mineral sands deposit in Inhambane, Mozambique, could be a valuable source of ilmenite. Ilmenite is a major source of titanium dioxide – predominantly used as a white pigment in products such as paints and paper.

We conducted exploration activities in relation to the Chilubane, Dongane and Jangamo mineral sands prospects in Mozambique – collectively known as the Mutamba Project – under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy of the Republic of Mozambique from 2015 to 2018. 

In line with this MoU, Rio Tinto and Savannah Resources Plc and AME East Africa Limited (a subsidiary of Savannah) agreed to establish the Mutamba Project Joint Venture to develop the resource.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground

Khanbogd, Mongolia

The Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia is a world-class open pit mine and underground project. More than 80% of Oyu Tolgoi’s total value lies deep underground. We are building an underground mine complex, that will use block-caving mining techniques to extract the ore and transport it to the surface.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground

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In January 2022, the Oyu Tolgoi Board approved the beginning of underground mining operations, and the project fired the first and second drawbells of the Hugo North underground mine in June 2022. We expect sustainable underground production in the first half of 2023.

At peak production, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to operate in the first quartile of the copper cash cost curve1. Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce around 500,000 tonnes of copper per year on average from 2028 to 2036 from the open pit and underground, and an average of around 350,000 tonnes for a further five years2, compared to 163,000 tonnes in 20213.

By 2030, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to be among the fourth-largest copper mine in the world. It is a complex greenfield project comprising an underground block cave mine and copper concentrator as well as an open pit mine which has been successfully operating for almost ten years. It is one of the most modern, safe, sustainable and water-efficient operations globally, with a workforce which is more than 96% Mongolian. Since 2010, Oyu Tolgoi has spent $4.1 billion on national procurement, with total in-country spend of $13.4 billion, inclusive of taxes and salaries during the same period.

The capital forecast for the project is $7.06 billion, an increase of $0.3 billion against the 2020 Definitive Estimate, largely related to COVID-19 disruptions.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, site accommodation and staffing levels improved to between 60% and 70% of planned requirements. The project has achieved the conveyor to surface decline breakthrough and completed construction of Materials Handling System 1 with commissioning expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

In December 2021, the updated Resources and Reserves were registered in Mongolia in accordance with Mongolian regulations and approval from Mongolian authorities of the 2022 Annual Mine Plan was received. The updated Feasibility Study (OTFS20) has been submitted to the relevant governmental agencies of Mongolia.


1 Wood Mackenzie copper equivalent cash cost curve (Q4 2021)

2 The 500ktpa target (stated as recovered metal) for the Oyu Tolgoi underground and open pit mines is underpinned 17 per cent by Proved Ore Reserves and 83 per cent by Probable Ore Reserves for the years 2028-2036. The 350kpa production target for the following 5 years is underpinned 18 per cent by Proved Ore Reserves and 82 per cent by Probable Ore Reserves. These production targets have been scheduled from current mine designs by Competent Persons in accordance with the requirements of the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Minerals Resources and Ore Reserves, 2012 Edition (the JORC code).

3 Rio Tinto Annual Results, published 23 February 2022.

Rincon Project, Argentina

Rincon

SALTA PROVINCE, ARGENTINA

Rincon is a large, undeveloped, lithium brine project located in the heart of the lithium triangle in the Salta Province of Argentina, an emerging hub for greenfield projects. 

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A long-life, scalable resource capable of producing battery-grade lithium carbonate from raw brine, the project will help us deliver this vital resource to the global energy industry while meeting our commitment to decarbonise our operations by 2050.

Rincon’s unique, patented lithium-mining technology offers environmental, cost-saving and productivity benefits by compacting the extraction process into less than 24 hours. A pilot plant is currently running at the site and further work will focus on continuing to optimise the process and recoveries.

We are investing $190 million to develop a small starter battery-grade lithium carbonate plant with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes per year and first saleable production in 2024. The investment also includes early works to support a full-scale operation, including power line and associated substations, construction camp and airstrip.

We are also conducting studies, developing our strategy and timing, and securing updates to existing environmental impact assessment permits. We will be engaging with local communities, the Province of Salta and the Government of Argentina to ensure the project is developed to the highest environmental, social and governance standards.

Resolution

ARIZONA, US

The Resolution Copper project is a proposed underground copper mine in the Copper Triangle, approximately 60 miles east of Phoenix, Arizona, in the western United States. 

Resolution Copper Mine, United States

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Resolution has the potential to supply up to 25% of US copper demand, and create several thousand direct and indirect jobs, with an economic value of approximately $1 billion annually over the estimated mine life.

Resolution Copper will rely on a technique called caving to extract the deposit that lies more than 2,000 metres deep. This technique uses gravity to help extract the ore and is the most viable way to recover the resource.

We are working with the US Forest Service to progress the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and complete actions necessary for the land exchange. We continue to advance partnership discussions with 11 federally-recognised Tribes that are participating in the formal consultation process on the FEIS and land exchange. We note the Ninth Circuit’s decision to uphold the lower court ruling denying Apache Stronghold’s request for injunctive relief. We are encouraged by the significant local support for the project but respect the views of certain groups who oppose it, and will continue our efforts to address and mitigate these concerns.

Visit the Resolution Copper website >
Simandou iron ore project, Guinea

Simandou

Nzérékoré, GUINEA

Simandou contains one of the world’s largest and richest high-grade iron ore deposits, demand for which is increasing as steelmakers look to reduce carbon emissions. 

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Simandou broadens our global portfolio of iron ore products and complements the long-term attractiveness of our Pilbara Blend™. Our managed joint venture, Rio Tinto Simfer, holds the rights to the two southern blocks of the Simandou deposit (blocks 3 and 4).

On 27 July 2022, we announced the formation of La Compagnie du Transguinéen, a joint venture between the Government of Guinea, Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) – the developer of the two northern blocks (blocks 1 and 2) – and Rio Tinto Simfer.

This milestone paves the way to progress the definitive joint venture arrangements and secure necessary financing to construct more than 600 kilometres of rail infrastructure spanning the length of the country, as well as port infrastructure on the coast of the Forécariah prefecture in Guinea. Rio Tinto Simfer, WCS and the Government of the Republic of Guinea are committed to co-developing the rail and port infrastructure in line with internationally recognised environmental, social and governance standards.

Ownership of the new infrastructure joint-venture company will be split between development partners, Simfer Jersey Ltd and WCS, each at 42.5% equity share, with the Government of the Republic of Guinea taking a 15% free carry equity stake.

The Rio Tinto Simfer joint venture comprises Simfer S.A., which develops the mine and in which the Government of Guinea holds 15% and Simfer Jersey Limited holds 85%. In turn, Simfer Jersey Limited, which co-develops the infrastructure with WCS, is owned by Chalco Iron Ore Holdings (CIOH) (47%) and Rio Tinto (53%). CIOH is currently owned by Chinalco (75%), Baowu (20%), China Rail Construction Corporation (CRCC) (2.5%) and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) (2.5%).

“The incorporation of InfraCo with our partners underscores the importance of the Simandou resource in today's decarbonising world and its development will complement Rio Tinto's strong iron ore portfolio. It is also a very important moment for Guinea and for Guineans, for whom the project's southern infrastructure corridor has the potential to bring significant benefits for regional economic development by leveraging international project and ESG standards. We are most grateful to the Government of Guinea and WCS for their collaboration and look forward to making the promise of Simandou a reality.”

- Bold Baatar, Rio Tinto’s Executive Committee member in charge of the Simandou project and Chief Executive, Copper

Western Range

In September 2022, we agreed to form a joint venture with China Baowu Steel Group to develop the Western Range iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia (Rio Tinto 54%, Baowu 46%).

Pilbara - Western Range

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Construction is expected to begin in early 2023 with first production anticipated in 2025. Western Range’s annual production capacity of 25 million tonnes of iron ore will help sustain production of the Pilbara Blend from our existing Paraburdoo mining hub.

The $2 billion development ($1.3 billion Rio Tinto share1) includes construction of a primary crusher and an 18-kilometre conveyor system linking it to the existing Paraburdoo processing plant. The construction phase will support approximately 1,600 jobs with the mine requiring about 800 ongoing operational roles which are expected to be filled by existing workers transitioning from other sites in the Paraburdoo mining hub. Rio Tinto’s share of the capital costs are already included in the Group’s capital expenditure guidance of around $9-10 billion for each of 2023 and 2024.

The joint venture is subject to various conditions, including approvals from Rio Tinto shareholders, the Australian Government, Chinese Government regulatory agencies and the Western Australian Government.

1 Rio Tinto share includes 100% of funding costs for Paraburdoo plant upgrades

Winu project

Winu

Paterson, Western Australia

In late 2017, we discovered copper-gold mineralisation at the Winu project in the Paterson Province in Western Australia. 

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In July 2020 we announced the maiden Resource at Winu, as well as the discovery of a new zone of gold dominant mineralisation nearby. Drilling results at Ngapakarra, about two kilometres east of Winu, provide further encouragement about the potential to develop multiple orebodies in the district. We have explored only a small percentage of our tenements in the Paterson region of Western Australia so far, which includes both our 100% owned tenements and joint ventures.

We are continuing our programme of work to supplement our understanding of the deposit and the environmental and cultural heritage impacts before submitting the regulatory approval requests. We also continue to strengthen our partnerships with Traditional Owners and advance agreement making.

Jadar

SERBIA

The Jadar project in Serbia is one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects. The scale and high-grade nature of the Jadar deposit provides the potential for a mine to supply lithium into the electric vehicle value chain for decades.

Jadar employees

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The proposed development will include an underground mine with associated infrastructure and equipment, including electric haul trucks, as well as a beneficiation chemical processing plant to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.

The Board committed US$2.4 billion of funding in July 2021, subject to receiving all relevant approvals, permits and licences. In January 2022, the Government of Serbia cancelled the Spatial Plan for the Jadar project and required all related permits to be revoked. We are continuing to explore all options. We acknowledge the concerns from communities and are engaging meaningfully to explore ways to address them.

Zulti South from the air

Zulti South

Richards Bay Minerals, KwaZulu-Natal, SOUTH AFRICA

The Zulti South project remains on full suspension. We approved the $463 million investment (our share is $343 million) in April 2019 to sustain RBM’s current capacity and extend the life of the mine.

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RBM currently operates four mines in the Zulti North lease area, a mineral separation plant and smelting facility. The Zulti South mine is expected to underpin RBM’s supply of zircon and ilmenite.