Rio on the lookout for coal in NSW, Qld

MINING giant Rio Tinto may expand its coal footprint beyond its current Coal & Allied operation in the Hunter Valley and its Kestrel longwall mine in central Queensland as part of a global strategy to increase its coal assets, says managing director Tom Albanese.
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Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese

Lou Caruana

Albanese’s comments yesterday came after it was revealed Rio Tinto, which is offering $A3.9 billion cash for Riversdale Mining, could face more hurdles after Brazilian steelmaker Cia Siderurgica Nacional spent more than $76 million to increase its stake in the African coking coal producer to 17.58%.

“I think on coal, I would like to see opportunities to build upon our New South Wales and Queensland operations,” Albanese told ABC’s Business Sunday program.

“But I see opportunities to supplement that. Again, if the right conditions all take place, with the possibility of a coking coal opportunity in Mozambique, which is the Riversdale bid, which we’ve extended that bid this week to about early March.”

Rio has already approved a $1.1 billion extension and expansion of the Kestrel mine to extend the life of the mine to 2031 and increase production to an average of 5.7 million tonnes per annum of coking coal.

That extension is expected to come onstream in late 2012 or early 2013.

In thermal coal, Rio’s 50.1%-owned $1.2 billion Clermont mine in Queensland will produce 12Mtpa, largely replacing Blair Athol as it ramps down to 3mtpa.

Clermont commenced operations in May 2010 and full capacity is expected to be reached in 2013.

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