MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru gives Rio Tinto mining rights at the border

Published by MAC on 2008-03-26

Peru gives Rio Tinto mining rights at the border

26th March 2008

LIMA - Peru said on Wednesday it granted mining rights to mining giant Rio Tinto in 18 lots in the southern region of Tacna, less than 30 miles (50 km) from Peru's border with Chile and Bolivia.

Peruvian law prohibits foreign companies from acquiring mines close to the border, but Rio Tinto was given the rights under a "public necessity" exclusion, meant to promote development in frontier areas, said the mining ministry.

"The rights to mine transcend private interest and contribute to the welfare of the community," said the ministry, which did not disclose how much Rio Tinto paid for the rights.

Rio Tinto started exploration drilling at La Granja, its massive copper project in northern Peru, in 2006 and has said it plans to complete a pre-feasibility study in 2010. The company took control of the project in January 2006 after previous owners BHP Billiton withdrew.

Also on Wednesday, Rio Tinto's chief executive said it had rejected BHP's hostile takeover offer on value only.

Peru is the world's second largest copper producer, after Chile, and is the fifth biggest producer of gold. It is the world's largest silver producer.

(Reporting by Jean Luis Arce; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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