Rio Tinto Plans to Invest Billions into Iron Ore and Diamond Projects in India
Mining juggernaut Rio Tinto is continuing its quest to be the leading producer of iron ore. The UK based company announced plans to invest $2.5 billion in two separate mining projects in India, reportedly agreeing to invest $2 billion to set up an iron ore project in Odisha and another $500 million in the Bunder diamond mine project in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
“We have the potential for two projects. An iron ore project in Odisha with a $2 billion investment potential and a half a billion dollar investment in Madhya Pradesh in diamonds,” Sam Walsh, CEO of Rio Tinto told reporters at a conference.
“The diamond project is very important downstream because it will provide 30,000 jobs in diamond cutting,” he added.
Discovered in 2004, the Bunder project is Rio Tinto’s most advanced diamond mining project. The mine, which is currently in the pre-feasibility stage, is expected to place Madhya Pradesh in the top ten diamond producing regions of the world.
Both sides are still awaiting approvals, including environmental clearance, to move ahead
“We are waiting for approvals, forestry and environment approvals, which, I am hopeful, will come through in the near-term. Prime Minister and I have met three times during the past six months, and I talked to him about the two major projects and the opportunities,” Walsh said.
Rio Tinto is also interested in the prospect of uranium. For years Rio Tinto has shown interest in selling Australian uranium to India but it remains to be seen whether the company will still be producing the nuclear fuel in Australia by then. Walsh and Prime Minister Modi have been in talks to discuss the prospects of uranium exports to India as well as coal mining opportunities
"Once all those steps are in place, clearly there is an opportunity for us and Australia here," Walsh said.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.