Unlike BHP, Rio Tinto to Pick and Choose Projects
Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO) is taking a different route than arch rival BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP).
The mining conglomerate is keen on “cherry-picking” the brightest projects and companies the market has to offer. According to Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh, it doesn’t even matter what they’re digging up.
“I am about the best projects—in the best segments, certainly—but am not restricting” the company to certain commodities, said Walsh.
The move is quite different than the strategy of BHP Billiton. The company announced earlier this year it would spin off its production of materials such as aluminium and nickel to focus on its four pillars of business – iron ore, coal, copper, and oil and gas.
“Complexity is compounded when you have too many products,” said Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of BHP Billiton.
With over a dozen projects in a variety of commodities around the world, Rio Tinto is all about the biggest and most profitable projects. Similar to BHP, Rio is interested in expanding its copper business, which includes expansion initiatives its La Granja project in Peru and Resolution project in the U.S.
“I am a believer that you need a portfolio approach to your business,” Walsh said. “That different projects bring different value to the equation for different reasons.”
“Copper is going to be very prospective going forward.”
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.