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Rio Tinto has teamed up with the world’s largest copper producer to explore a major new tenement in Chile’s remote Atacama region as it races to meet soaring demand for a mineral that will help power the globe’s transition to renewable energy.
The mining giant will acquire Pan American Silver’s 58 per cent operating stake in Chile’s Agua de la Falda prospect for $45 million. The company will also purchase another nearby concession, Meridian Property, for $550,000.
Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm has the miner focused on producing “future-facing” minerals like copper and nickel.Credit: Bloomberg
Both transactions are on the basis of Rio providing new smelter royalties.
The remaining 42 per cent of Agua de la Falda is controlled by state-owned Codelco, the world’s largest producer of copper, which is a key ingredient in the wind turbines, transmission lines and electric cars that will help arrest global warming and enable the world to reach its net-zero emissions goals.
“Copper is critical for the global energy transition, which is at the heart of Rio Tinto’s strategy, and Chile is one of the most important sources of world supply as demand for copper in renewables and electrification grows,” Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said.
Stausholm has firmly set Australia’s second-largest miner on a path to dig up and produce “future-facing” minerals like copper and nickel that are increasingly sought after to accelerate the clean energy transition.
Rio is joining forces with Codelco, the world’s largest producer of copper.Credit: Bloomberg
Rio bet last month that the world’s appetite for recycled aluminium will expand rapidly, teeing up a deal to buy half of the Canadian metal-recycling business Metalco from the Ontario-based Giampaolo Group for $US700 million ($1.04 billion).
Stausholm said the latest partnership with Codelco was “essential to find better ways to provide materials the world needs”.
Codelco chairman Maximo Pacheco said it will provide a chance to leverage both companies’ experience, strengths and capabilities. “By joining forces, we can enhance our exploration and development efforts for a highly promising asset,” Pacheco said.
Rio and Codelco previously signed an underground mining collaboration agreement late last year aimed at encouraging innovation and technology to improve safety, productivity and environmental, social and governance outcomes.
Agua de la Falda has previously been explored for precious metals, with minimal modern exploration for copper. Analysis by Rio’s exploration unit indicates it is a good prospect for new copper discoveries, which will now be the focus of the joint venture.
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