Rio Tinto weighing sale of controlling stake in Bougainville Copper


Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) says it is reviewing its options for its 54% stake in Bougainville Copper, the mining company that owns the Panguna mine in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, after the government passed new mining laws that may strip RIO of its lease on the site.

The mine had been on a path toward restarting after being closed for a quarter century, but earlier this month new mining laws were passed that will devolve the power to regulate mining to Bougainville's autonomous government from the Papua New Guinea national government.

Bougainville Copper has estimated it would take 5-7 years to reopen the mine, should it win approvals and secure financing, and believes there is at least another 5M tons of copper and 19M oz. of gold to be mined at the site, sustaining operations for more than two decades.

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